A Knitter’s Guide to Decolonizing

We are all colonized

My healing journey began when I recognized that everyone and everything—all the people on this planet, the planet itself, and the systems we live and work within—are colonized. Once I knew that, I also realized that healing would happen by my working towards living a de-colonized life.

Core wound

The next step towards healing was truly seeing and understanding what I was healing from—what my core wound was. Though there have been several abusers and traumatic instances in my life, I wanted to know why particular personalities and events seemed to recur. To understand why “these bad things always happen to me” was to recognize that something bad had happened to me at some point and how I consciously and unconsciously sought both relief for the bad feelings and, thanks to the abuse, a repeat of the the bad actions and feelings themselves. 

Protective self

After suffering a core wound, we create protective selves in order to not feel the pain of that wound. As Jackson MacKenzie explains in his book Whole Again

When our true selves are rejected, betrayed, or abused by a trusted loved one (usually parent or partner) and we don’t yet have the emotional tools to heal, it’s common for a protective self to form. The protective self sees itself as separate from others. It becomes more of an observer of the world, rather than an authentic participant. The protective self is usually seeking external validation for proof of its worthiness. To save or be saved. To fill a void it cannot express, to meet an old unmet need. It is largely based around control…Since the inner world is damaged, the protective self keeps itself alive through external measures of worth.

Recognizing the habits I’d formed as part of my protective self was actually easier to do than confronting my core wound. It was easier to see, for example, that I’m an avoidant who piles new projects on top of new projects in an effort to keep busy and feel good.

Letting go of my habits and masks started to reveal my core wound. Recognizing the protective selves I created and working, with mindfulness, to kick those habits kick-started my de-colonizing.

My authentic self

As I got deeper into my healing journey, I kept coming back to this question: Who am I?

All humans are born with the capacity to love, given, as the Mi’kmaq believe, unique gifts from The Creator. It is the job of parents to love and nurture their children in order to help them self-actualize and discover their truth.

According to Justice Murray Sinclair and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada,

…for any society to function properly and to its full capacity, it must raise and educate its children so that they can answer what philosophers and Elders call ‘the great questions of life.’ Those questions are: 
Where do I come from? 
Where am I going? 
Why am I here?
Who am I?

These four question guide me on my healing journey. Knitting helps me answer these questions.

Abuse erases our true selves; abuse stunts our growth. Though I’ve always had some sense of who I was, it wasn’t until I started my healing journey that I was able to separate my true self from my protective self. I am now working towards knowing who I am—my truth—and not what my abusers tried to make me become.

Active healing

Healing can be difficult without action. Particular actions—from gardening and growing food to raising livestock to cleaning my house to quitting jobs and projects to going no contact with abusers—have helped me actively heal.

Knitting is healing in action.

Healing is an awakening.