“If you’re not allowed to feel what you feel, know what you know, your mind cannot integrate what goes on, and you can get stuck.’
Bessel van der Kolk
Through the hurt and loss, you never gave up. Through the times you were searching for comfort and validation, to feel less alone, you held on to hope. You were resilient.
It took all your strength to keep going.
And they called you negative. They said you were pessimistic, a glass half empty type. They told you: ‘you need to toughen up’ and ‘you’re too sensitive’.
So you learned to doubt yourself . You learned not to listen to your gut feelings or ask for help. You told yourself you were overreacting, and pushed all your normal and natural feelings away because they weren’t filled with sunshine.
But you weren’t being negative. All the times you tried to talk about the dark things, you were facing your demons. You were fighting them, because you are a fighter and your life is worth fighting for.
No-one else gets to name your experience, and even if they tried, they would be wrong. You are the definition of resilience. Your light is still burning, and you have kept it shining in the darkness – safe from others, and from yourself.
Know your darkness well enough that you can sit in the dark with others.’
It took years of learning, including a psychology degree, to make sense of my own story, and in the process I was judged and censored by those who thought I was ‘dwelling’ and ‘stuck’. But I kept going. I knew I would only become stuck if I didn’t allow myself to feel what I felt, know what I knew, and find a way to integrate it all in a meaningful way.
As I did this, I put everything I learned into creating a sanctuary for others on the same path. We hold space for each other. We speak the dark, we witness it without turning away, and we write it down.
You don’t find your way out of the dark by pretending it isn’t there. Instead you share space with those who light the way when your own torch burns low. This is the only way you will ever feel free.
Not by hiding from the people who tried to stop you from knowing what you know and feeling what you feel, but among a community of torchbearers ready to support you as you make meaning from all that has happened.
‘There is a light that never goes out.’
If this is something you know you’ve been searching for, there are still spots available starting August 1 when we begin to write down the dark together. Give your losses a name. Let the feelings speak.
Don’t let your light go out. It is so needed.