It's a true honor to be over at SheLoves Magazine today sharing some vulnerable parts of my own journey:
My vocation as a therapist can make me feel like I’m standing with my client on the edge of an abyss. Engaging in trauma processing can feel like putting my toes up against the ledge of a vast canyon and hoping we don’t fall in. Yet we also know we must put our bodies there. We must hold this sacred space.
Trauma, whether big “T” trauma (e.g. PTSD) or little “t” trauma (e.g. grief) is like that. It requires immense respect and training for the intensity it holds. My supervisor used to say, “Don’t open it up unless you’re sure you can put it back in.” Similarly, one of the main ethical tenants for therapists to learn is this: Do no harm.
The deep healing many of us need can feel tenuous, because it requires risk. It causes everyone who is a part of it to lean into the process rather than the arrival. Understanding this helps us make sense as to why many of us are walking around with gaping disconnects between our bodies, minds, and souls. We’re scared—and understandably so—to let ourselves be integrated. What will we find if we do? And it is hard. Many of us have had to live this way in order to survive. With a nervous system bound tight as a coil, we are stuck wondering why we would ever dare to do this work? Why does it matter?
Again and again, I, too, ask these questions.
I ask because it’s the vocation of my life and the heartbeat of what God has called me to. Not only that, but I’m a survivor of complex trauma, so I’ve experienced enormous growth. I’ve felt terror in my stomach. I’ve lived with the chronic pain of a body so tightly wound it doesn’t know how to calm down. I know what it’s like for grief to swallow me.