I spent a few years of my life working abroad and while that time held some of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve known, it also contained long phases of loneliness, confusion and an overwhelming doubt about where my path would lead. I became accustomed to the highs and the lows of my day to day, and when I was in the space between – not entirely inspired, not totally lost, I was in a bit of a dull fog. It was during those plateaus in my experience that I would long for then familiarity of home – but where was home? My mind would be restless, unable to fully land in my body – leaving a sense of disconnect from myself and the surrounding environment. Everything and everyone would become strange, and I would begin to feel a rising vulnerability much like a still open wound.
The new world perspective I was catalyzed into after sexual violence, the recovery and re-organization of the pieces of my life afterwards, reminds me of the roller coaster ride of my voyages abroad. Of course, the impact of trauma itself can stir up such a sense of foreignness both with yourself and the world around you – language escapes you, memory is out of order, things are not as they seemed. You sit on life’s periphery looking from the outside in, never finding connection through the images and faces around you and no longer sensing it on your own.
For someone who hasn’t both traveled extensively (or who hasn’t felt themselves a outsider in a world where others seemingly feel at home) and survived sexual violence, my sense that the two experiences are in some ways quite parallel may feel like an exaggeration. Yet, as a survivor, I look to any revelations I gain, however slight – on my yoga mat, in the woods, while playing a keyboard, from my dreams – and seek to weave them into the bigger picture of how I can experience and understand the fullness of my Self. I believe that my daily, seasonal and annual witnessing of the ongoing cycles of love and loss can teach me humility, compassion and strengthen my courage to keep going. When a metaphor for healing emerges, I fully dive in.
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