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The Courage To Heal

By Anneke Brinkerink

Imagine you are eleven years old. Your grandfather—the one you love and trust most in life—is with you. He wants to touch you all over. What would you do? I froze. I didn't know I could say, "No!"

Now, more than twenty-five years later, it still takes courage to heal. It's a long and painful thaw. During meditation, little by little, I am able to allow myself to face different parts of this experience. Awareness and understanding about body-mind resistance, hidden anger, losing self-respect, confusion about trust, food addiction, fear of fear, and a part of me that is strong and wise.

Family values are cast in another light. My grandfather and father were both ministers—fathers of the community. Due to this active Christian background, the incestual secret created a barrier between me and loved ones. I was ashamed—until I realized it wasn't my fault, until I realized that the only essential forgiveness was and is for myself. I look at the Third Precept over and over again. I imagine my grandfather as an eleven-year-old child.

Healing happens in a context. The support of the sangha makes it possible to be with this part of my history on all the different levels. My feeling of connection with my global family is growing, and compassion begins at home.

Anneke Brinkerink, True Compassionate Nature, is an illustrator living in Dorpsweg, Holland.

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Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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