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Liberating the Victim
For my mother Sheila
On a cold winters morning in December of 1995 my mother was attacked in the parking garage of her work. Her throat was slit, she was raped, and her body was driven out of town to be tossed in an abandoned farmhouse where it was not to be found for 11 days. Our family navigated through completely foreign territory. Waking up each morning, getting ready for Christmas not knowing where she was, if she was alive, dead or in pain? The city grieved with us, people searched the river valley for her body, sold white ribbons to symbolize that violence against woman has got to stop, we saw the beauty of humanity through the unspeakable horror.
I was 20 at the time. Old enough that I could call her on her “stuff’ and young enough that I needed to hear her voice when I was down. She was a powerful teacher for me and I was stuck in what I saw as the contradiction of all that she had ever taught. The idea of “If I believe I am safe, so I am” disintegrated along with midnight walks through river valley and ravines. My faith crumbled. She had always said there’s a reason for everything. How could there be a reason for murder? I was angry, confused, and devastated.
Through extensive media and trial I felt I was turned into a victim. This did not sit right with me. I had been brought up breathing transformational medicine. Participating in communications, life skills workshops as a teen and a young woman. I did not have victim in my vocabulary, It would have been one of the words that I was not allowed to use as a child along with should, never, try, but, etc! Here I was now, a victim of homicide.
My healing processes lead me to marrying my true love and becoming a mother myself. As I learned how to mother I learned how to heal. I used the tools I knew to create my own healing. I visualized, I did voice dialogue, I created ceremonies, all along questioning my mothers voice in my head that said “Remember Sarah, there are no accidents” Your wrong, I thought, you got murdered!
I remember another lesson she had taught me about choice. How we choose everything, our lives, partners, jobs, families etc. I was 8 at the time and angry with her. As I fired away my certainty that she was to blame for my circumstance, She said, ‘don’t blame me, you chose to be born into this family!’ I remember being totally dumbfounded, what do you mean I chose us? Then I grasped in my 8 year old mind the possibilities of this. The Power of it. Through the years the concept of choice has always been close at hand. How could I know this AND know that people can kill you?
My determination to find peace was paying off. I came to see that she had lived a whole 42 years that were not tainted by murder. I began to remember who she was and what the purpose of our relationship had been. In my understanding I was able to find the ‘thread’ of our relationship and realize it had never been severed. I became aware that death does not separate us from spirit. I came to know that how we leave this earth might act as a vehicle for light and healing. I could see through my mothers eyes that she was fine and I knew it to be true.
I still felt stuck. Where my power, freedom, liberation?
I knew I needed to talk to the man who killed her, for him to know me, for me to know him.
I saw that we had a karmic relationship that could be healed. I felt powerful in knowing I could do something. Previously when I had used force to keep his image from my mind it had NOT worked, I was ready to do something new. I prayed for guidance and created ceremony. Journeying in sacred space, through the four directions, I asked the spirit of this man to be present. He had been a stranger and had died in jail so this was the only way I knew how to communicate with him. My plan was to sit with him and tell him how I felt about what happened. For over eight months I did this and I learned many things. Many things I had not expected to know or see. With absolute humbleness I saw that we are not different from each other, we have made different choices. I could be him, he could be me. My heart filled with compassion and understanding. I did not know how to sit with this feeling. How could I feel love for this man? For a murderer?
At this time I felt like I needed some help in understanding what I was learning. Some structure to bring my knowledge into form. I became a student of the Inca Medicine wheel as taught by Denise Kinch. All of a sudden I could see why I had needed to sit with this man in sacred space and how important it was to forgive him. Completely, without any limitations or attachment. I learned that this act freed us both. I saw too that he had been a big teacher for me, and I am thankful for this.
Now I had it, my Power, my freedom, my liberation!
My understanding deepened and I considered again the concept of choice. If we choose everything and there are no accidents then could it be possible that my mother chose to be murdered? There is no such thing as a victim. Those circumstances can provide us with opportunities to evolve. (myself and her) That our fears are really tools for transformation. To truly learn from them we cannot allow ourselves to be bound by our stories. When we see beyond the limitations of this human form, we see the truth of who we are becoming. It is my belief that I am responsible for everything in my life. As a victim, I had no power. I had given it away in the assumption that I must not have any. When I refused to be a victim anymore I found my power and learned how to create the ceremony I needed to heal.
Mom being murdered has been the catalyst of my personal evolution, and yes a gift. I know she is here with me as I write this, delighted at how socially incorrect that statement may seem. That murder can be a gift. As a woman I have been able to find peace and heal what I saw as the defiling of the sacred feminine. As a mother I honor all the time with my children and the gift that they chose me! I know that anything can happen in the present moment so this is where I choose to be. I have learned that we are really all one. Each of us is part of the whole, with as much capacity for light as darkness. We all make choices everyday and are responsible for those choices. I pray that I may wield my own power in recognition of this balance each day. I am very humble in my understanding of this experience and thankful for all the guidance I have received. I am especially grateful for the teachings of the Inca Medicine. It is the vessel that brings who I am into form, and the base for my own medicine.
The affirmation on my mother’s bathroom mirror at the time of her death read
I forgive myself
I forgive everyone
I am Free!
As appeared in Mosaic Mag. summer issue 2008
About the author:
Sarah Salter-Kelly has always known she is a healer, being taught from a young age that our healing potential lies within and is available at any time. She truly put that to the test when her mother was brutally murdered by a stranger. Her determination to heal showed her that she needed to find peace with the man who had killed her mother. That our teachers take many forms. Through this journey she learned she could only free herself from her deepest wounds with forgiveness and compassion. She saw how to release her fears when she was willing to know them. She has found her power in choosing to liberate her personal victim. Sarah has realized she is responsible for her life journey and that by co-creating with spirit, anything is possible!
Sarah teaches the “Healing Power of Fear.” Where we may see our fears as allies, action our intent with ceremony and shift our perspective beyond blame to forgiveness and gratitude. In this way we may liberate ourselves from our personal story. Knowing we are responsible for everything we co-create with spirit each day gives us the power to manifest our destiny. She offers us tools to look into ourselves and see with our own senses what we need to heal so we may know from the inside out.
Sarah is Reiki, trained in the Andean Medicine Tradition, Alchemical Healing, Aromatherapy, and Practical Herbalism. She has a practice on her land near Pigeon Lake Alberta.
Sarah is a facilitator and apprentice of the Andean Medicine tradition as taught by paq’o Denise Kinch