This Spring I have been more present to the exhausting war with my inner child than I have any other year in the past.
In the morning, the racing beat of my heart is the first sound I hear. It wakes me up like an alarm clock playing songs that send messages about not belonging, feeling unsafe, and not being enough.
Anxiety steals the first 10 minutes of my morning as I pray that my heartbeat slows.
If I am successful, I will breathe myself into gratitude and wake myself up enough to look out the window and remind myself where I am at. If trauma wins, then I will have a video that plays in my head with each song, transporting me back and fourth from anger about the past to fear of an unknown future.
I use the analogy of allergies to talk about the trauma that may show up in the Spring because it’s onset is similarly sudden: just when we are admiring the beauty of the earth’s rebirth, smelling the flowers and waking up ourselves, our bodies start having an allergic reaction.
Trauma does that to me, too; I feel like I cant stop the itching and burning sensation that the past has over me only to feel depleted after the prayers, tears and breathing give me some relief. Nobody loves me is the name of the documentary that will eventually play in my head revealing all my past failures and faults.
If all the healing tools I have fail to stop the spiraling my body goes through, then I begin to suffocate from the tears that start forming in my throat.
For many trauma survivors, that’s what the Spring feels like—especially in a world that doesn’t see the worth and value of women and girls. The return of light after Winters darkness may leave us feeling vulnerable and open us up to anxiety and shame as we remember who and what broke our hearts.
Our bodies may relive abandonment, poverty and violence that we may have experienced as little girls.
Anxiety creeps into my mornings and nights when the world sleeps and the weight of my inner child’s guilt and shame starts weighing on my shoulders. Afraid to live and afraid to die, with no breath, choices become hard to make and creativity dies. With only the identity of my past I feel lost.
Eventually, if I hold on long enough, if I stop fighting long enough to feel, If I can get myself out of bed and into my garden, if my dogs come to lick my face to tell me they are hungry and happy to see me, If i can move to get close enough to my partner and feel her heart then I can remember none of it is real.
I can exhale and breathe again and enjoy the beautiful world I have created for myself in spite of and despite the circumstances of my past.
And when my voice comes back I can tell my inner child, that we are safe, that we are loved, that we belong. Being present to this journey and going through the process of healing is the only way I can be a sister to someone else. I can only take you where I have been. I can only hold you because I have fallen. And I can only be a bridge because I have take every broken piece of my life and have created one.
Whether we are aware of it or not, our minds, bodies and spirits will feel the Spring as it will invite us to awaken, be active and in participation with our lives.
This Spring, I invite you to use these seven self-love practices as we open up our hearts to the unconditional love we had before the violence happened.
7. Take the time to grieve.
People forget that self-love also requires us to mourn the loss of pieces of ourselves—people, places and things that no longer serve a purpose in our lives. Take the time to grieve.
We cannot birth our new selves if we don’t transition out of who we were.
6. We have choice.
Trauma shapes our identity, the way we act, what we expect from ourselves and others and shapes our ways of being—but it is not who we are.
Don’t ask what should we be doing next—instead, ask who this season is calling on us to be.
5. Don’t rationalize the pain.
There is no explanation for what happened. Violence doesn’t make sense. While we may understand the circumstances of the people who violated us, it doesn’t make what happened right and we deserve a life free from our past.
4. Awareness doesn’t mean we have to do something about it.
People think that when one becomes aware of something we automatically have do something about it. However, the first step after awareness is just watching it, stalking it, feeling its impact and identifying its every move in our lives. It’s okay if that’s all we can do in a given moment.
3. Validate the story.
No matter how we tell the story—even if the dates are wrong or we miss something—it’s still our story to tell. Trauma stories come back to us in pieces, at their own time, when we are ready. It’s okay to not remember it all.
2. We are enough.
Being enough doesn’t mean that now we have the capacity to take care of everyone else. Sometimes all we have the capacity to do is take care of ourselves. This does not make us selfish or depressed—it just means that we are finally becoming enough for ourselves.
1. There is nothing to compare.
Remember this season is temporary but necessary for who we are about to become. We will get what we get from it and it’s exactly what we needed to get.
No two people, regardless of whether they have experienced the same thing, will get the same results.
Author: Dayanara Marte
Editor: Renée Picard