What We Carry

Have you ever considered what you carry? I am not talking about your handbag or the backpack that is ready to respond at a moment’s notice to all manner of unforeseen encounters. I am talking about what you carry invisibly in your heart. Yours can be virtually anything; a happy achievement, the memory of someone you loved, distant family friction, a devastating event, or an act of kindness. As a society, we carry the devastating loss of the more than two-and-one-half million people who have lost their lives due to COVID-19. This list of what we carry can be long. Have you ever stopped to think about how you carry these things, particularly the not so joyous ones?

This question has captivated me since I started reading, My Blindfold’s Eyes, by missionary Dianna Ortiz. The work chronicles how Dianna, an Ursuline nun, silently carried a difficult truth and how her life changed markedly for the better as she found a way to reframe her relationship with that truth.

Dianna died in February 2021 of cancer after a life dedicated to human rights advocacy. Her ministry emerged after a traumatic experience; she was kidnapped and tortured in Guatemala in 1989 while doing humanitarian work. Her kidnapping was horrific; Dianna was gang raped and repeatedly brutalized by her captors who, come to find out, were funded by the U.S. Government.

The book tells two stories in parallel; her search for justice for herself and the hundreds of thousands of others who have been tortured by corrupt regimes; and the shame she held for so long following the event, a ‘carry’ that left her prone to reliving the torture. Dianna’s shame stemmed from the conflict between her Catholic beliefs and the physical torture she endured. Its influence was relentless. It led to horrendous flash backs and debilitating physical and emotional pain.

While I hope that you never walk anywhere close to Dianna’s traumatic experiences, I wonder about the influence of what each of us may be carrying.

Her story helped me rethink some of my own carry. Not too long ago, I worked for a very powerful boss. My role at the time was – in essence – to make him successful. During  a particularly challenging period, I thought about quitting on and off for months. One day as I sat in his office, I up and quit. I had not rehearsed that day as ‘the day’, but something pushed me over the edge.  I remember relating the news to my spouse that evening. He cheered. ‘When is your last day?’ he asked optimistically.

I did not have one. My surprise announcement caught my boss off guard. He asked for time. We agreed to reconvene at a later date to discuss details.

It took three weeks for that meeting to occur. Once there, he pretended as if my earlier resignation never happened. He wanted to control the story of my departure. I was speechless. One thing was very clear; my dedication to his success would exact one more toll. He asked me to forfeit my voice in return for a hefty severance package.

The shame I carry is different from Dianna’s. It does not have to do with the details of his story; it rests on my complicity in silencing my voice.

Like Dianna, I could not see the price of my forfeiture. For a long time I wondered why I didn’t walk out at the sheer mention of his plan and deny his rendering of the truth. His truth, you see, undermined something I fought to establish my entire career, my voice.

While my story is no where near the tragedy of Dianne’s experience, we share an important understanding. What we carry – regardless of its origin – influences our truth, our light.

In the initial years following Dianna’s abduction, she could not get her balance. Her flashbacks were severe, triggered by small things like the smell of cigarettes or a uniformed police officer.  In the space between these occurrences, shame emerged, took shape, and rooted itself in her persona. The beauty in reading Dianna’s story is that shame was not the through line. She learned to release it. Her story was about hope and forgiveness and possibility. This expanded story more than filled the void once created by what her captors took from her.

My wish for you today is that you consider the influence of whatever you carry and, instead of adopting its heaviness or heartache, welcome the possibility that may reside in changing your relationship to it.

RIP Dianna. Thank you for what you carried for us all!

Linda Rossetti email me

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If you have another minute, listen to my latest podcast, Emotions, Vulnerability and Expanding Possibilities. I talk with Esther Crawford, CEO of Squad, a recent purchase by Twitter, about the emotional toll of life’s pivots and the beauty that emerges from them. A great 12 minute investment! Listen NOW.

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Copyright © 2021 Linda Rossetti & NovoFemina.com. All rights reserved. No content on this site may be reused in any fashion without written permission from NovoFemina.com.

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