Deep down I knew that when it came to healing, I still had some work to do. I decided to dust off my copy of Trauma and Recovery by Judith Lewis Herman. Herman explains that the first principle of recovery is empowerment. That others may offer advice, support and care, but not cure. For any intervention, no matter how well-intentioned, that takes away your power is not in fact a healing relationship. So I really wanted to learn a way to heal myself, but I wasn’t quite sure how and where to start. And then, on a beautiful summer’s day in the forest I met a wolf. As I looked into her kind and wise eyes, I immediately felt that she was the one to ask for help. The wolf told me a story about how other animals process trauma. A deer who survives an attack will find a hiding place and start to shiver. This helps to shake out the excess charge in her body. Trembling is a natural response to trauma that some of us have unlearned or forgotten. But by trusting our bodies, we can re-member it again.
Each new relationship challenges you in ways you weren’t expecting. For me living together with the one I love means being confronted with my vulnerability, all of my imperfections and idiosyncrasies. Basically all of the things I try to hide most of the time. And then there’s the stuff from my past. Coping mechanisms that used to work are failing and unresolved issues are flaring up like wildfires. As Katherine Anne Porter once wrote, the past is never where you think you left it. Old files that I had neatly tucked away in brown paper boxes and labelled as closed are suddenly resurfacing all over the place. My first reaction was to panic and to try to shove them back into the closet and sweep the rest under the carpet, hoping they would not notice. But there’s no way that you can keep that up. Trying to pretend everything is OK is really draining. So I’ve learned that the best way to deal with it is to accept yourself and your past. To own up to it and be honest about it. To bring it into the light.
It is the midst of winter. And no matter how much I love the snow swirling down outside, covering the world with a blanket of quiet whiteness, I also long to feel the warmth of sunrays on my face. I vaguely remember what it was like when life was of an easier, lighter kind. And yet, I understand that this time, slowly gliding along in the darkness, has a purpose. That it allows me to let go of things that no longer serve me and to process all of the changes that have so rapidly succeeded each other. Even positive changes need time adjusting to. Time to familiarise myself with the new colours and shapes of my life, their edges and curves. To be frightened by them and long for the days of old, to retreat into the safety of the familiar, and then to take a step forward again, to welcome and embrace them. To understand that it was me who invited them in, even when it scares me and I question whether I was actually ready for them. To let go of these doubts and let myself be enveloped by them.
I keep thinking that at some point in my life I’m going to have everything figured out. But it never seems to happen. At the beginning of this year my life was on track: I had a good job, a lovely home, sweet friends… the only thing missing was a unicorn. How I longed to meet an unique creature to share my silent dreams with. Now, after the whirlwind of this new relationship, it feels like I have gone through the looking glass. For the first time in my life, I feel embraced by a love that is quiet, reserved and overwhelmingly secure. But right now, I have not a clue what I am supposed to be doing when it comes to work and whether my small home near the sea will have room enough for the two of us and the life we imagine. I feel completely lost, but I cannot help but smile. And that is something I would not trade for all the financial treasure in the world. So, there is nothing to do but to accept this fated change. As I allow love to flow into my life, I must have faith that the rest will follow.
Feeling the warmth of the sunlight on my skin as we walked hand in hand along the river, leaning into each other to whisper the words that are blossoming in our hearts, I noticed my fears subsiding. It was then that I realised that the Hydra that I have been fighting isn’t some big, bad monster attacking me, but that it is merely my own anxiety. Could it be that it was there for a reason? I decided to drop my sword the next time it would show up and invite it in for a cup of tea. “Please sit down,” I said, “now, tell me, why are you here? Where have you come from and what is it that you wish to tell me?” We talked about the experiences we have lived through together and I listened to all of her worries for some distant future, and after a while, I began to understand. I took her in my arms and held her tight. After I let her go, I gently told her that we are going on this grand adventure and I would like very much for her to join me and remind me that I am not to be naive, but strong and confident.