La Cultura Cura

National Comadres Newsletter #24 (May 2022)

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Reflections from Comadre Lauren Padilla-Valverde,
The National Comadres Committee Member since 2013

My Dreams Metabolize My Ancestor’s Pain:

Buen Dia, Ba’ax ka wa’alik Comadres far & wide – I want to tell you a story.  It is a story about a “presentimiento” a sense or feeling about something imminent that I have been carrying for many years and it comes in the form of my dreams.  Since I can remember, I have experienced very disturbing dreams; dreams where a relative or I experience horrific pain, suffering and sadness. I awake from them paralyzed from the fear.  I feel traumatized; the horrifying feeling lingers, and I have to sit up and go drink water.  I don’t want to go back to sleep because the dream sometimes persists.

A few years ago, my daughter began sharing her dreams with me; they are the same dreams; full of horrific pain, fear and trauma.  Her dreams like mine are of loved ones, elders, great grandparents and heavy spirits. I remember watching my mother standing over the kitchen sink drinking water telling me about these same horrifying dreams she was having. I would see her panting, scared. It turned out her mother and her grandmother recounted similar dreams with the same level of intensity and darkness.

I have come to understand what these dreams are about.  They are the embodied remnants of the trauma my people have endured; the colonization forced subjugation and near erasure of my native indigenous and African ancestors from hundreds of years ago.  They are the genetic messages of the more contemporary forced migration including that of my parents who fled Guatemala’s repressive government, thanks in great part to US hegemonic interests.  I have come to understand these dreams are metabolizing generations of trauma. I don’t have to fear it and am learning to be with it.  One simple practice I have learned that helps me move through this fear is humming.  Humming settles the nervous system and allows you to have more ease.  This is one simple exercise I have learned from Resmaa Menakem, a specialist in trauma and author of My Grandmother’s Hands.  The beautiful lesson here is that we do have the capacity to heal for our ancestors and our children and this healing exists within our bodies.

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