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.
Last year I had really made up my mind… no more retreats. And then something unexpected happened. I was asked to fill in as a last-minute substitute. No, was of course my answer. Not a chance! Of course, I promised I would sleep on it. As I lay in bed, I thought of Kant, as you do. Kant said: “Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the more often and steadily we reflect upon them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.” So the following morning I said yes – and asked my love to teach it with me. But then the panic started. Am I good enough? What if it’s a total disaster? There was only one solution. I would have to watch Kung Fu Panda. Again. As Shifu was spluttering (“The panda? Master, that panda is not the Dragon Warrior. He wasn’t even meant to be here… it was an accident!”) I was reminded by the old and wise Oogway that there are no accidents. And also, that there is no secret ingredient. You just need to believe!
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.
How quiet the house suddenly was without sweet Minoes. For the first couple of days nothing felt quite right. Flip lost all interest in playing with his toys and desolately moped around the house. But slowly he started to find his way on his own. I kept thinking this would be a temporary solution, but without noticing we fell into a rhythm. At night he curls up in the hollow spaces of my spooning body, only to wake me up gently when the sun rises in the sky, climbs into my lap when it’s time for me to do some work, sniffs around my brushes and water colour tins, and always, always waits patiently in the window sill for me to return home from the city. Somewhere between nuzzling whiskers and soft paws, this little creature stole my heart. My doubts have disappeared and I simply can’t imagine him living anywhere else. To honour this new beginning as well as his past, I have given him the epithet Kizu. Meanwhile, Minoes has found a new home too. And so, everything will be alright in the end.
Things didn’t work out as I had hoped. It’s always difficult to know when to keep going and when to admit defeat. When do you decide that no matter how hard you’ve tried, something simply isn’t meant to be? To listen to that voice within that says: “You are allowed to make mistakes”. Last week I finally admitted that I couldn’t deal with the cats fighting anymore. After seven weeks of three of us sharing a home, something had to change. It was decided that Flip would stay for a while, at least until his wounds had healed, and that Minoes would have to leave. Looking at this beautiful, innocent creature who hasn’t done anything wrong and tell her she couldn’t stay with me anymore, was one of the hardest tings I’ve ever done. And to put her in a basket and bring her back to the shelter. It just broke my heart. I know that I have to trust that she is protected and that she has a good chance of finding a new home, where she’ll be loved. So I held her tight and whispered in her ear: “Reach for the stars!”