At a time when the whole world is high and intoxicated on Christmas trees and tinsel, I take a moment to reflect on a large part of our community, that for this time of year feel only grief, pain, and isolation. I know we have all been in the grips of pain at some point in our life but imagine that torment and anguish continuing as you struggle to make sense of and heal from the traumatic events that you’ve experienced. For our community, they don’t have to imagine because they are living with those feelings every day which can be heightened at Christmas, by watching the world celebrate without them.
For many, the mere thought of celebration feels like an impossible feat and something they may never again get to experience. For others, they are still in the midst of their trauma and fighting every day just to survive, let alone celebrate. And while I cannot speak to anyone else’s journey, I can draw on my own lived experience of what has worked for me in hopes that I may give someone a little hope and healing this Holiday season.
Where do you start when the pain feels so overwhelming and the hole you find yourself in is so deep, you can’t even see the light above?
You start with you. The one constant throughout your life journey and the only person who can truly heal your wounds and scars.” What do you mean me?” I can hear you saying, “how do I do that and how do I trust myself when I haven’t kept myself safe so far?” and the big one I used to ruminate on “who is going to fix me because if I could do it myself, I would have done it already?”
These are all valid concerns, and you are not alone in these feelings. While I can’t take away your pain or fix your gaping wounds, I can offer a few ways to start or help you on your healing journey of discovering that you are enough, to not only heal but find your own peace and happiness whatever that may look like for you.
1. Belonging to you
We look outwards to belong and while community and friends are an important part of our social well-being, can you ever truly belong when you don’t accept yourself? Take some time to get to know yourself and find the gifts you have to give.
2. Seek Your Wisdom
From the moment we are born we are taught to self-doubt and look outside for validation and guidance. The truth is, we are all born with our own extremely intelligent guidance system and that is the best place to start. Sit with yourself and ask your questions and then trust that you are the expert in your life and no one is more qualified to live it than you.
3. The gift of giving
We are not alone in this world, no matter how isolated you may feel, and nothing warms the heart as much as being able to help another despite how you’re feeling. It can be as simple as a passing smile or an open door. There is healing in knowing that everyone on earth is sharing this journey and we can offer the gift of comfort to each other in our own special way.
4. Tell your story
For centuries humans have passed down stories of adventure, tragedy, and sorrow. These stories offer not only entertainment but demonstrate to us ways in which others before us have conquered their fears, overcome their challenges, and celebrated life’s gifts. There is healing power in stories, and by sharing yours, you may give that gift to someone else while helping your own heart to heal.
5. Nature’s wonderland
There is no better place to help you heal than the magic of mother nature. Listen to the sounds of the wind, birds, or ocean. Feel the warmth on your face. Nature connects, grounds, and heals, putting you in touch with the miracles of life that you are a part of.
6. Nourish yourself
Take time to give to yourself, and listen to what your body and soul need. Every small step counts in finding your way back to you. A shower, walk, or nice warm relaxing bath, whatever you find comforting is a great place to start. Every small step towards loving yourself is a step further along your healing journey. You deserve to be nourished and loved, and this is a gift that you can start to give to yourself today.
7. Allow yourself time to feel
This is a big one because so many of us run away from our feelings because they feel so big, painful, and overwhelming. I find writing my thoughts and feelings down really helps me to make sense of them and gives me some relief and clarity. The only way to heal is to feel and as hard as that seems no one else can do it for us. We can, however, surround ourselves with people who hold the space, supporting us to feel with no judgment or opinions, just listening.
8. Meaningful connection with others
You are not alone in this world although sometimes it can really feel that way. How can anyone truly understand what you are going through, how can you relate to others after what you’ve been through? These are all valid questions that we ask ourselves, but you don’t need to experience someone’s pain to sit with them and offer comfort. You don’t need to have lived someone’s trauma to offer empathy and compassion. Meaningful connection is understanding that we are all on our own separate journeys and we can’t know the other’s happiness, pain, or trauma, only be a witness and share in their experience by listening.
9. No more shame and Blame
We are good at feeling shame and blaming ourselves when things go wrong, or traumatic events happen in our lives. The truth is you are not to blame and no matter what has happened to you, there is no reason to feel shame. Everyone will experience things they feel they have to run and hide from but truly understanding and accepting that you are no less than anybody else in this world no matter what your story, will help you find the courage to share because shame comes from feeling too embarrassed to let others see your truth. We don’t have to feel ashamed. We can find comfort in each other.
10. Shifting Your language
Words have power. Notice the difference between” I will never feel loved, safe or happy” to “I am finding it difficult to feel love, safety, and happiness right now”, While at a quick glance they may appear the same, the second version is sprinkled with optimism and possibility rather than being a finite never. How we speak to ourselves matters and leaving room for hope is a small but necessary step toward healing and change.
11. Choose to be curious
When we embark on our healing journey it can feel overwhelming and hopeless, we often don’t know where to begin. The first step that I found useful was to be curious. When we ask ourselves questions and remain curious about the answers without judgment or expectation, we can often find new ways to view things that can help us move forward one step at a time.
12. The gifts of imperfection
This time of year often makes us look inward and there we can find judgment and conditional love towards ourselves. We can hold high expectations, but it is ok to be exactly where you are. There is no perfect that exists, only the beauty of imperfection, as we all strive to learn, love, and heal in this world together. Once we embrace our own and each other’s imperfections for the opportunities of love and connection that they are, we can start to truly live and enjoy the gift of every moment.
I hope that one day, you can find it within your heart to celebrate along with the rest of the world, not necessarily Christmas but the magic of life and the true miracle you really are with all your wounds and scars, in fact, they make up the most beautiful parts of you.