My Trauma Is Held In Me, Not By Me

I have to be extremely discerning of how and in what manner I share my story because I recognize how heavy it is. For example, the memory I am walking through right now is something that I know cannot be shared here. Despite the vulnerability, the rawness, in which I show up in this space and document these grief-bled words, I understand how the weight of some memories cannot be safely contained here. This conscious external awareness is something I have developed only because it is a twin of a similar awareness that I have developed within me. An inner commitment to past and present. 

It is something of a vow; something that has kept me grounded when I become enraptured by the agony. It is a boundary, a stance that I have come to adopt in my own ideology of individual healing. In such, my inner children have learned that they always are welcome, always be safe to be known, because their story, our collective truth, is held only when I can hold it. This awareness of how, when, and in what ability I can hold my story, pain, inner child, and present self has slowly developed over the past eight years of my privileged self-healing. (*read: I have developed it not because I am resilient or an expert, but because I have had resources.) I can attest that it is something which has permitted me to stand in two worlds (my past and present) without fully neglecting one or being succumbed by the other without an ability to re-enter stabilization.

What that means is this: I am present to my truth, but I refuse to be the only one accountable to it. 

My body, my soul, my mind, know what they know and embody what they embody as truth. However, we are not the only party involved. The weight of silencing, the corrosion of the scape-goating, and the crushing pressure of enormity of this story’s guilt are not just ours. Even if my parents, and the subsequent humans I was sold to, never take ownership of their responsibility. I have come to know, intimately, that I am not responsible for what they cannot hold. I am not the container in which the darkness of my abuse can live forever within. 

My trauma is held in me, but not by me. 

It flows through me, instead of remaining stuck within me like poison in my veins. Corrupting how I exist, see, hear, feel, believe, choose, and identify.

My truth is held in me, for the reclamation of me, because my pain is free and unbound. Felt.

Question from a survivor: What does safety mean to you?

Answer: Safety means that I feel able to be compassionate towards myself far more than I feel concretely “safe”. Safety means that I have the ability to come back to my body and become present again.

I think defining safety is so much more fluid in me than it used to be because it is apart of me, versus something I reach to or for. 

If I am able to be present to my body, mind, and soul sensations without editing them, I feel safe. If I am able to be authentic to those inner sensations and I am not demanded to edit how they may manifest or how I tend to myself in relationship to my external surroundings, then I also feel safe. For example, I exist in a safe space but sometimes respond as if I do not. Allowing my body to walk out what they couldn’t when abuse and harm were normalized. This is critical to my healing work.

I suppose the grounding energy around any form of “safety” lies within the message of permission and the extension of compassion. If there are permission and compassion present both within myself and within the environment around me then I identify that as safe. 

Our ability to believe and feel is a testament to the self-healing we are choosing and have chosen. I feel the weight of these choices in every cell of me. How hard you fight. How powerfully you surrender to the demands of grief. How vulnerable you have to be. Our healing work is our justice and it requires more than we think we have within us. Far more than this world offers us. 

I am both grateful and devastated you know it. 

I hope today there are breaths of assurance, relief, and peace that you can identify without struggling to. That you are met with grace and compassion when you need them the most, even if you’re unable to truly feel concretely safe in receiving them. Because safety is relative and individual and complex. 

Like a human partnership, the partnership we enter into with ourselves is similar. It isn't fixed, controllable, or even comfortable. There are two parts, and each is fighting for their autonomy to be acknowledged; fighting to be heard. However, most often, our inner child doesn't know they have autonomy yet. It is our task as adults who are healing to invite them into it. Once they begin to settle into their voice, having a conversation, building a partnership, becomes more accessible. 

Your self-healing doesn’t have an expiration date. 

The way you are fighting is loud in me, honoured in me, even if it is silenced elsewhere. 

Skyler Weinberg