Ohana

Updated: Aug 19, 2020

Naming anything -- a baby, a new product, a website, is a process! When creating M*OASIS I knew right away that ASIS would mean Adult Survivors of Incest and Sexual abuse. And I loved the concept, visual, and definition of the word “oasis.” But I stuck on trying to figure out a word for “O”.


I quickly thought of calling it MOASIS, but I was concerned that having the "M" mean Mothers might make people think and feel that this website was just for mothers. So after a few weeks of going back and forth and putting together this site, I had an idea.

The “O” could mean “ohana” — that would be perfect! I'd name the site OASIS! And ohana was so meaningful because I grew up in Hawaii and that word has always been a part of my vocabulary.


While “ohana’ is often translated to mean ‘family’, if you're familiar with Hawaiian culture, you'll know that 'ohana' has such a much broader and deeper meaning. Just as Stitch (Disney’s Lilo and Stitch) said, “Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.”


You see, ‘ohana’ means so much more than just family. It means being there for each other, no matter what. It extends beyond blood lines. It is a concept that means genuine compassion, support, loyalty, and love for each other. And to become a part of someone’s ohana is a great honor. You’ll especially hear young people from Hawaii call older adults “aunty” or “uncle” even though they aren’t related. In fact, for years, I had a babysitter I called Aunty and it wasn’t until I was a little older that I learned we weren’t actually related.


So having the “O” in OASIS mean “ohana” was it!


But even as I said that, there was something about it, for some reason, that left me feeling uncomfortable. What was it? I knew I needed to explore this feeling. So I sat with it.


I loved the idea of tying in my past with my present. But why was I feeling unsettled and uneasy?


I then went to my computer, about to change the template for this website to OASIS. And then I started to weep (more like a sob). There was so much irony in that word. Family.


Just as I write about in the "Making Use of the Mud" post, I acknowledged what I was feeling, then I sought to embrace those feelings. "Hello friend. What is going on here?" I said to myself. And here is what I uncovered:


For the last few years, I've been examining and redefining what family means to me. What being a mother, daughter, and father mean to me - the roles, images, and ideas those labels conjured up. All of that got blown out of the water when I found out that my dad abused my daughter. The man I grew up loving and respecting had betrayed me, my daughter, and my family. I grew up with so many loving memories of this man. He never hurt me. He took care of me. But….


But this person that was part of my family violated my trust. I felt betrayed by his actions and disrespected by his denials. I was in such shock because I could not understand who he was anymore. I grew up putting so much faith and trust in family, never imaging or believing one family member could/would hurt another family member in such a way.


Ohana means no family left behind, but I am leaving him behind. I have chosen to not have a relationship with the person who hurt my daughter, and denies any wrongdoing.


So what does ohana meant to me? Am I not living up to the values I placed on what being a family meant? These are the questions I asked myself that night and I sometimes still ask myself, and struggle with.


I recently heard a talk by Pema Chödrön where she said that you can condemn the acts of a person, but not condemn the person. I think that’s where I am at. I condemn what my father did, but I still feel compassion and love for him in my heart. I would have never thought possible, but I now know that I can hold those two seemingly disparate and opposing truths in my heart.


This is complicated stuff. This is why we have to be compassionate to ourselves and empathetic to another’s journey.

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