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I was mugged at 17…
It was November, not too late at night, but here in the North the sun goes down by 5pm. I had just enjoyed coffee with some girl friends in the hopping area of Whyte Avenue and I was walking to my home near the university. I looked rather stylish; one of my roommates worked at ‘Le Chateau” and I was decked top to bottom in her clothes, carry a purse from another roommate with contents belonging to yet another friend… I had just passed a house where a couple of guys I knew lived, when I heard footsteps behind me. My gut told me to turn around, look to see who was there, but I was hoping it would be one of those guys (specifically the one I had a crush on) and that he was planning on surprising me. So I continued sensing the gap between us was closing. When I crossed the street his footsteps picked up speed, and before I knew it I was slammed onto the sidewalk. My purse taken and he ran off. I stood up not knowing what to do (what is one supposed to do when one is mugged?) I yelled “what the *&%# are you doing buddy, there is no money in there, I am probably more poor than you!” I was mostly concerned about loosing what did not belong to me (purse and contents) and angry with myself for not turning around when I knew I should. After what seemed like an eternity of swearing on the sidewalk, I followed him down an alley, in search of the borrowed belongings. Eventually I found most of them discarded on the ground.
Eight months later I was living in Surrey B.C. working at A&B sound in the music department. One summer afternoon, shortly before my shift was over, a man with a bright yellow turban came in. He was paying a lot of attention to me, looking at me in a way that made me very uncomfortable. All girls know this look. I stayed clear of him. On the way home I was walking under the sky train tracks picking wheat and grasses. I heard a car driving slowly coming up behind me. I turn to look and I see this man, clearly defined by his unusual yellow turban. He drives along side of me as I walk. I am cutting through an industrial area and there is no one around. I shout at him to f-off and he drives ahead to the corner and parks. I yell some more and he drives away down the road. I let some time pass, then I turn down the same road he did and make my way two more blocks to my apartment. Right before I cross the street to my place I see him parked in front of my entrance. How could he know where I lived? I considered turning around, or just walking by. But I thought to myself, no way, this is not fair, this is my place, and I won’t be chased away from it. I walked right up to him. I looked him in the eye and said “Who the hell do you think you are, following a 17 year old young woman home from work?” He was protesting and I ignored him. “You are disgusting, what is your license plate number?” I walked to the back and looked, memorized it and said it out loud to him. “ If I ever see you anywhere near me again, I am calling the police, now get out of here.” I stood on the street and waited for him to leave. He left.
And so began my fierce drive to face fear in whatever way it shows up in my life. It doesn’t mean I don’t feel fear, I do, I was scared to death when I approached that man in his car, but if I didn’t I felt that he would win. He would have power over me, and that was out of the question. I did not want to be a victim, and would do all I could to challenge that. I brought that sense of power to many of my actions, doing things that most woman would not do. Edmonton Alberta is home of the North Saskatchewan river and is filled with ravines, ancient forests, many places you can get lost in, and I loved to walk through these places especially at night. I would tune into my ‘animal senses’ exploring with them whether or not the path was safe before my feet tread upon it. Trusting my gut and it always led me in the right direction. I thought that if I believed I was safe I was.
When I was 20 my Mom was murdered in the parkade of her work. She believed she was safe too. She had been parking her truck on the street for over a week, as she had a premonition about not being in the parkade. And then her truck was broken into on the street; so she started to park it back inside.
It was a year before I walked at night again. An act of power to reclaim this freedom… allow for the paradox that I can be safe AND bad guys can kill you all at the same time… To make choices based on power, not on fear. It was terrifying at first. My husband (then boyfriend) and I had moved into a neighborhood about 8 blocks from where my Mother had been killed. One of those older neighborhoods that have a mixture of artsy old houses, and some run down sketchy buildings. I remember that walk well. How long it took me to cross open spaces, searching carefully for the shadows of danger around each corner. Hoping my dog would be as big as her bark if need be. As I walked closer to the off leash dog area, my fear wrapped tightly around my throat as I came closer to the place she was killed with each step. The relief when I got home, that I did it, that I was alive, I survived. And each walk there after became easier… the fear waned, I could breathe.
I had identical twin girls at 24. I used to think that someone might randomly take them. I mean if Mom could be taken (she had gone missing for 10 days before her body was found in a farm house out of town) then so could they. I am not sure how conscious this worry was at first, I just always had the girls right at my side. I remember being at a lake one summer that was really crowded. They were two. One of my girls wanted to explore by herself. I was terrified she would disappear but I also wanted her to feel confidant having her own adventure so I secretly followed her. At one point she saw me and told me to go sit down… I still followed, just a little further back. As they both acquired a greater understanding of language I could see by how they talked about strangers or bad guys that I was projecting my fears of mother loss onto them. So I changed the pattern.
When I was 30 I started to see that I felt bound by the man (Peter) who had killed mom. There was fear I had not acknowledged or been aware of, as I had been grieving the loss of my Mom for 10 years. Peter had killed himself in jail and I had never explored how I felt about him, aside from the fact that he was aboriginal, and burdened by the effects of colonization and residential schools. I knew I needed to talk to him myself and say how I felt about what had happened. I created a ceremony to know him, face him, heal my fear of him, and what he had done in my life. My intentions were to ‘get it all out’ all of the emotion I had not previously expressed. What ended up happening in the duration of this 9-month ceremony is I experienced a sense of compassion and freedom I had never anticipated. In fact I would go so far as to say, I didn’t even realize how shackled I was, until I laid those shackles down. Forgiveness is the golden key of transforming pain.
Last year I went and did some healing work on the reserve where Peter came from. My first time there I was really nervous. A former chief had invited me, yet I was still a white girl sharing my healing story, having no idea how it would be received. Also feeling a full recognition of the full circle story of loss. Some of my ancestors would have been responsible for the creation of the reserves. They came here to farm, and couldn’t do so unless those who lived here first were moved. So even if they were not the ones who created the treaties, or used force, they were still a part of the culture and the time period. And now the repercussions are Mom being murdered. My heart and stomach did flips that first time I was there. I swore a little as I spoke, which later served me a reprimand by an elder… But I moved through some deep fears. The next time was amazing. I wrote an article about it. (Dancing Home… on this blog)
Fears bind us, prevents us from living our lives and creating what we want. We live in a time where our world is permeated with ‘what ifs….’ Power is placed on potential disaster and worst-case scenarios rather than what gift each moment holds. This is a global crisis. We each need to closely examine this, and take the power into our own hands. How do you really want to be living your life? When you are on your deathbed, and you look back in time, what do hope you will see?
As a parent I teach my kids to face their fears, which right now is a zombie between the woodpile and the chicken coop (my 6 year old) or a stranger on a city street (my 11 year olds). My son still feeds the chickens and when my daughters are in the city they walk in pairs. We know that bad stuff can happen. My kids have no grandmother to prove that. They are learning discernment, and to trust in what their instincts are telling them. To walk with freedom rather than fear.
This is how we will change the world.
About the author:
Sarah Salter-Kelly is a Shamanic Healer, Teacher and Spiritual Guide.
She has spent 20 years studying life skills and self-actualization techniques to bring forth inner peace in a way that is practical, effective and tangible. With a deep passion to know the Sacred, Sarah has perused interest in Spirituality, Religion and Consciousness raising modalities her whole life, discovering the secret to Spiritual Awakening lays in delving into the mystery of our own hearts…. Taking the courage to look honestly at who we are; and making a conscious choice to release what does not serve us, and strengthen what does. Sarah shares with us how to cultivate our relationship with the divine from the inside out, in turn healing our personal struggles and suffering. Her gifts lay in illuminating the source of our conflicts and transforming their bondage, through understanding, compassion and ceremony.
“My mother Sheila Salter was violently murdered and raped in the parkade of her work in Edmonton in the winter of 1995. A total stranger; Peter Brighteyes was found guilty of murder and later killed himself in jail in April of 1997”
“This life changing experience is at the root of all my healing work. As I continuously delved deeper into my Soul to find a way to free myself of my pain, I learned first hand the only way out (of pain), was in… This is what has driven me to guide people into the depths of their pain as the ‘key’ for unlocking the chains of grief, trauma, and woundedness that bind them. I do believe we may heal anything.”
“Peter was a product of the Genocide that has faced our Native peoples, and I feel that my mother being murdered demonstrates how ALL of us are affected by this collective wound. I have spent time on the reserve of his birth and in other Native communities simply holding space for the stories of trauma that are in need of voice. Our healing may go full circle. It is my prayer that each and every one of us may set free the shackles that bind us. ~ Blessings Sarah”
(There are more details of this healing story under “Liberating the Victim”, “Transcending the Victim”, and “Dancing home” on Wayward Healer BlogSpot)
Sarah is a strong advocate of healing the earth, through healing ourselves. Her Classes and Sessions incorporate methods to see the mirror of ourselves in the earth around us, understanding that the tools to generate our personal transformation exist here in the present, and are readily available at all times.