Who You are makes a difference.
Literally and abstractly, this title was one of the poignant flashes that forever changed my life. The kind of instance that one graciously acknowledges, in a moment absent of foresight, that carries impact and influence over the rest of our journey.
The statement was received, but unbeknownst to me, the declaration was about to simultaneously stir and caress my soul, bringing forward an image of who I used to be and validating what I perceived as inadequacies. When I acknowledged who I currently was, a river of feeling sad became the waters of my baptism, but for the first time in my life I had a sense of accepting myself with vulnerability.
The catalyst was a short story from the original Chicken Soup for the Soul. There I lied, reading in bed some winter evening in 1993. With self-doubting bravery in my twenty-fifth year to keep me cloaked, humbled as I recalled many aspects of my life I thought I had healed, there in one-and-a-half pages was a very loving tap which cracked my armor… once again.
Trauma is a very personalized experience. I can share stories, but most cannot possibly understand or relate without some relevant circumstance or experience within their own lives. And even with some seemingly similar occurrence to draw comparison or compassion, it likely will never fully be understood on a body and soul level.
Empathy is a highly valuable and generous quality that enables us to connect with another soul in a deeply spiritual manner, but empathy is not the same as truly living the trauma. For those whom have survived any significant trauma, it can seem like an augmented reality; one foot in what we know and the other in what we attempt to operate within. It can be a bizarre experience. For me it was a life filled with wanting to be understood – loved for having been vulnerable, romantic, strong, and playful – but not trusting most people enough to really be loved from fear of being reduced and rejected again.
Therein lies the very root of repeating the patterns. Whether traumatic or just simply not serving ourselves well, without the breakthrough of seeing our patterns with self-love, it can be very difficult to evolve beyond them.
Ultimately the source of love will need to come from within ourselves, but I have found that the enormously generous gift of another’s intention to truly see me, create a safe space, encourage and support new ways of behaving, is an undeniable force that shifts trajectories. This is the kind of love that we are meant to be, and I intend to be towards others.
It took a long time in my walk through life to realize who I am makes a difference… and who you are makes a difference too.
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