When I began therapy for my childhood trauma, I felt myself descending into the dark forest of memory. Frightening recollections lurked behind the trees, ready to overtake me.
I wanted to get through it all as quickly as possible, so I scheduled as many therapy sessions as I could afford each month. I spent every evening working on my trauma, trying to shake it out of my body. I desperately tried to revisit every painful memory, believing that I could only feel happy when I was 100% healed.
I fell into a classic ego trap of placing my happiness in the future.
Paradoxically, my belief that I needed to heal every dark corner before I could achieve happiness kept me trapped. My dark night of the soul lasted four years, with anxiety, flashbacks and panic overwhelming me every night.
I was only able to emerge from the dark forest when I accepted that healing is an ongoing process, and I did not need to wait for the mythical day when I would be completely healed. Now I see what I was missing: we can cultivate moments of joy even when we are going through life’s dark and painful phases.
In other words, when we are navigating the tangled forest, it is easy to get focused on our fear and pain. But we can train ourselves to look up, to see the rays of sunlight peeking through the trees.
In creating “Sunlight for Survivors,” my intention is to remind everyone to look up more often, to notice the light, nourishment, and love that surround us.
By definition, life must include the darkness and the light, the pain and the beauty. But it doesn’t mean we need to live our lives focused only on the pain.
Look up. Find your light. Let it in.