Dear Loved Ones,
I don’t know if you watched any of the inauguration. I caught some of it, and was most thankful to see Amanda Gorman read her poem, ‘The Hill We Climb’. Amanda is a twenty-two year old black woman, and the first person named national youth poet laureate, an honor she received when she was nineteen. And she was a bright beacon of light at the ceremony. The whole poem was powerful with images and truth, but the words that have stayed with me, ringing in my head all night, are these:
“When day comes we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade? The loss we carry, a sea we must wade. We’ve braved the belly of the beast. We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace…..
And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow, we do it. Somehow, we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.”
I feel these words speak to the trauma we have experienced as a nation over the last four years, the waiting in terror to see what new pain would be inflicted on our communities, what new lies would be told, what new ways devised to gaslight and minimize our pain, or to stir up more division and violence, but they also speak loudly to personal trauma and healing.
Most people I work with get to a point where it feels like the trauma has won. The healing is too slow, new memories still come up, new feelings are allowed to have a space in the body, and the overwhelm can feel like it’s never going to get better. After working hard on healing, shouldn’t all this be done? Shouldn’t I feel better? How much more can there be to be uncovered and felt (often actually felt as never before), and talked about? Why aren’t I healed? Will I always be broken?
Where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
And yet, I find these very times of exhaustion and doubt are often a turning point in someone’s healing. The very fact they are asking the questions feel pivotal, as it’s often a time when the light at the end of the tunnel is glimpsed for the first time…. And it seems so far away. But it’s there! It’s as if there is a sudden realization that they deserve to be healed, are worthy of feeling love and peace, that it is a possibility for this pain to be transformed into a gift for the world…. And the fact that the trauma from their past still clouds all this is painful and scary, as, maybe for the first time, the love and hope work their way through the cracks in the defenses and survival mechanisms, break open with the healing.
And so, my dear ones who have braved the belly of the beast, know this.
The dawn is yours.
You are not broken.
You may not be finished, but you are not broken.
Whatever they did to you did not break you. You are beautiful and loved and healing…. And simply unfinished!
So continue to wade through the grief and healing, continue to wade through the lies and pain, continue to wade through the times of despair and sorrow. For now, as an unbroken, unfinished being, you get to help create who you are as a healed, strong, compassionate, brave, kind, loving, light filled person in our world! And what a miracle that is.
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