This is the continuation of my life story, focusing on the relationship aspect of it (part 1 is here). Based, in part, on the instructions from the Storytelling for Changemakers’ guide by the School for Change.
I’ve attended so many healing retreats! They were wonderful communal gatherings where I was (mostly) held with care and where some deep healing happened. And then I came home – into the isolation of my life. Without the support from others, the healed wounds quickly reopened. It turned out to be too challenging to hold onto my sense of self-worth without anybody mirroring it.
It seems that retreats have become a central part of the self-help industry because they tap into something that is powerful: As social beings, we need each other. Yet, because of their temporary nature, the retreats might even do more damage than good: We tasted what is possible only to be thrown back into life as usual, which tends to be more insular in today’s world.
Experiencing this connected me with another woman after one of those retreats. We both articulated our longing for communal healing and our disappointment that the year-long program we were enrolled in did not nurture it. So, she and I started having weekly phone calls. Now we have daily calls and exchange at least one email per day. The daily emails started almost two years ago – and the changes in us are accumulating. Our daily calls are fairly short (less than 30 minutes) and yet often bring profound changes that are deepening as we continue to support each other in our change. Because we live in different states, our contact is not in person, though.
About a year ago, a man came into my life with whom I am building a deep, intimate relationship that includes spending time together in-person. Although I had suspected for a while that physical touch is important to me, I had not realized just how important until this relationship. And it appears to be an important element on my healing journey. A lot can be explored when I am physically held and thus getting a visceral sense of being safe. Together, we are exploring how we can speed up healing from trauma by creating a space that is designed to facilitate healing by doing it in community with empathy and also with challenge. We gently point out areas that might need more attention when we sense the other might be missing those areas, probably because of the trauma. (Update July 2015: Sadly, this relationship turned out not to be what it seemed at first… Here’s a post that is starting to capture that unexpected turn.)
This post is part of the Your Turn Challenge.