They say one of the best ways to heal is to accept a gift when there’s no expectation of something in return. We receive gifts just because, not because we earned them. But when I was contacted about receiving a We Love You! elder care package from the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, (NABS), I have to admit I was overwhelmed. I didn’t understand why anyone would show this kind of love. Yes, I’m a boarding school survivor, but there are thousands of others who also survived boarding school. Some had it even harder than I did, including many of my own relatives and friends. A lot of them haven’t been able to open up about their boarding school experience – about how it has affected them and the people who love them.
It took me a long time to talk about it, too. I had to recognize and accept the hidden wounds that were never talked about. Only now, these many years later, am I finally able to share some of my experiences with my wife, whom I trust. Attending NABS conferences over the years has also helped. I’ve been able to meet other boarding school survivors who helped me feel safe in my feelings.
One of the hidden wounds I can talk about now is wondering if I really deserve anything. In my boarding school days, one of the lessons I learned was not to expect anything from anybody. If I needed or wanted something, I convinced myself that I had to get it myself. Gifts like the We Love You! elder care package represent something that boarding school survivors are not used to – an expression of love for no other reason than you are thought of and you deserve this.
Learning to receive a gift just because is part of our collective healing process as boarding school survivors, and I’d like to say weblahon (thank you to all) for this healing gesture. To my fellow boarding school survivors, please accept this well-deserved gift of recognition from NABS and their partners in this effort. Let it symbolize the many gifts we didn’t receive when we were children. May you feel the love and healing to your spirit.
George McCauley (Omaha)
Boarding School Survivor
Flandreau Indian School
Flandreau, South Dakota