By Joy Redstone, Director of Naropa Community Counseling
Maybe you think that trauma has broken you. Perhaps you think you will never be the same again.
You will not be the same, but you will be more. You are increased. Every place of injury is, in fact, knit stronger.
Look inside; has this happened to you?
My senses are sharper, I sense the deer on the ridge at unimaginable distances, just for the mere whisper of noticing that says there was a variation in landscape, a motion more purposeful than not. When I walk, the ground sings of the rocks, flowers and our steps and the air hums with a million warbling insects and the passage of air over every pine needle. The folds of the mountains rumble of the passage of water and wind.
Courage fills me and swells my heart every morning. Then, I throw my arms open to the morning and look to the dawn sky. I choose to walk in and towards the sunlight and I allow the fire to move through me. The tendrils of darkness still want me and they wrap themselves around my ankles and send barbed explorations humming along every vein.
That is when I summon my courage back. I call it and I remember that this terror is old and not my own. I remember that I know how to slip through the fragments of terror like a fish leaping, twisting and lunging, as I move towards freedom. I remember that I am the milkweed seed, drifting just above and that I am the answer to someone’s wish. I remember that every time I have walked towards my fear, eyes up, chin forward, hands open, that the thing I feared dissolved before me like a mirage. I know that you can survive the unthinkable and that you walk out the other side (maybe not quite the same person but one that has touched the center.)
This journey calls for strength: the strength that draws you off your knees or the floor until you stand up straight and the strength that lifts your eyes to the horizon and steadies your footsteps until you pace towards the dawn. Strength lifts your feet from the path even when you are very tired. Strength sends your voice in song and allows you to reach out your hand to another when you sense their steps are faltering.
Trauma lies. Trauma tells us that we are alone. Trauma tells us that we must not speak and that if we do, we will not be believed. Trauma says we deserved it, and that if only we had not been as stupid, or as bad, or as angry, or as unlucky, or as pretty or as sexual that it would not have happened. Trauma says that we will always be alone and that no one could love us if they knew the extent of the damage.
The truth is that the fragments become whole. The darkness fades to light. As you lift your eyes, beauty enters. Lift your heart to the dawn. Lift your heart to the altar of others.
I am calling you to speak. Trauma’s lies flourish in isolation. These truths flourish when shared, and the act of speaking is the first step of recovery.
Claim your victory. Sing your song. If you can bring love to any part of yourself, you have made the irreparable alchemy rather than destruction.
Joy Redstone, LCSW, CAC III
Joy Redstone is a licensed clinical social worker and addiction counselor (CAC III), as well as being adjunct faculty at Naropa and University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work. Joy received her Master’s degree in Social Work from Boston College in 1995 and completed post graduate certificates in addiction counseling and clinical supervision. She is a writer and artist, and contributes regularly to the Daily Camera. She began her career in Boston, MA and worked at Pine St. Inn and New England Medical Center.
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