Be fearless. Have the courage to take risks. Go where there are no guarantees. Get out of your comfort zone even if it means being uncomfortable. The road less traveled is sometimes fraught with barricades bumps and uncharted terrain. But it is on that road where your character is truly tested And have the courage to accept that you’re not perfect nothing is and no one is — and that’s OK. ~Katie Couric
You’ll learn, as you get older, that rules are made to be broken. Be bold enough to live life on your terms, and never, ever apologize for it. Go against the grain, refuse to conform, take the road less traveled instead of the well-beaten path. Laugh in the face of adversity, and leap before you look. Dance as though EVERYBODY is watching. March to the beat of your own drummer. And stubbornly refuse to fit in. ~Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass
A thing about doing our own personal trauma work is that we are doing the work of breaking long standing cycles and patterns, many that have been passed down through generations and generations. We are also helping stop the cycles being passed forward through future generations. It is intense work and the ripples move in all directions.
When we decide to do this work, that is the very first cycle we are breaking. We are going against the status quo of our families of origin and our culture. We are calling out the dysfunction that we were raised within and stating it isn’t okay. We stop keeping secrets. We stop keeping up appearances.
And sometimes, those around us, don’t particularly like it.
Going against the grain is rarely comfortable. And when we begin to break these patterns and cycles those around us become uncomfortable too.
This can show up in a number of ways. From subtle to overt attempts at gaslighting, sabotaging our work, desperate attempts to keep the status quo, including saying what we know happened never did.
Those around us can actually begin to do their own work.
There is a combination of all of the above.
When we begin and continue on the path of our own trauma processing, we can lose people. Friends and or family. This looks different for everyone of course, and isn’t always true; and I’ve seen it happen often enough, that I it is something I always talk with my clients about.
As we do this work, our relationship with our Self shifts and changes and so our relationships with others also shift and morph. The relationships can either grow stronger or they can disintegrate, and often we are surprised by which relationships do what.
These losses, of friendships, of family, are not easy or simple losses. There is intense grief involved. There may be times when we think doing this work isn’t worth the losses. And that is okay. We are where we are in our process, and it is true that sometimes holding on to a relationship, even if ultimately harmful to us, is what we want and need at that time. And so, we stop our work in many ways and perhaps continue it others. Or we stop for a while and then come back to it. Or we work on strengthening the relationship so that it can tolerate our own growth (and the growth of the other person) and then come back to the work.
And. In that last option, the other person has to be willing and able to do some of their own work too. This is something we can’t control or dictate.
I believe there is incredible power in doing our trauma processing work. Breaking the patterns and cycles of inter-generational trauma is no easy feat. And it is also so freeing. Liberating. We learn how to develop deep and vulnerable relationships with ourselves and others. We learn how to feel our emotions and their sensations without going into total overwhelm. We learn resilience. We learn peace. We learn to be generally at home in our bodies.
And often there are losses that come with these incredible gains. Those losses can cut deep. They can be horribly painful. And you are the only one who can ever judge if they are worth it or not.
I will say though, that while I have experienced intense loss because of my own work on setting boundaries and calling out harmful or hurtful behaviors of others, and while I miss some of those people daily, I am so much happier in my life and body now.
We can miss people and also not want them in our lives.
We can heavily grieve these losses and know there is a freedom in the loss too.
The more we are able to embrace this, the more of our own work we are able to do.
This essay was originally written for my weekly(ish) newsletter on August 27, 2019 and has been edited for publication here. To receive my most recent essays (and more!) you can subscribe to my newsletter here.
In Embodied Writing :: Unspoken Grief we will spent some time exploring the loss of relationship that comes with our trauma processing and the grief that comes with it. We begin on Monday September 16 and will journey through this process for seven weeks (ending on November 1). If you would like to learn more you can go here. Partial scholarships are available for those who are called to this work but cannot afford it.