Have you ever re-visited a place of trauma? This morning I returned to a place where I was pushed, unintentionally I hope, to the very brink, to a place where I had to constantly remind myself that life was worth living and I wasn’t a horrible, toxic, inherently unlikeable person. It was a place which had been overwhelming to me, a place where I felt powerless.
If you’ve ever done this, returned to such a place, you know the heart squeezing panic that sets in. You know how every cell of your body screams “Run!” as you intentionally walk forward. You know how just being there can be an act of courage even if all the people who hurt you are long gone. If you’ve done this you know the dissonance of entering a place where life wasn’t safe and knowing that today it is.
Remember Sarah from the movie Labyrinth? “Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the child that you have stolen. For my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom is as great…You have no power over me.” Her’s was a hero’s journey as is the journey of everyone who overcomes a painful past. Learning to say, “you have no power over me,” and really believing it, knowing it inside of yourself, is a journey. It seems to me that often the child that is stolen is a piece of ourselves. It is hope. It is joy. It is wonder. Reclaiming that, from whatever has stolen it, is always worth the journey.
I went back today, just briefly, and I walked through the doors of a place that had brought incredible pain into my life. I didn’t cry. I started to, but then I felt everything shift as I saw the place from a new perspective. I realized how much smaller it was than I remembered. I saw all the flaws, the disarray, the clutter. I realized that everything had changed because I had changed. I realized that I was stronger and more capable than I had thought possible.
I know that today I am the only one who holds on to these memories. Others have moved on. Even as I hear the Monty Python chorus yelling, “Get on with it!” in my head, I know I still have a little healing to do. I still feel a nauseating adrenaline rush just being there. I still feel vulnerable. I still get scared and I know I have to face my fears, to lean into them and see what they have to teach me. I know that I still need to say the words aloud, “I am a daughter of the King, a beloved child of God, and you have no power over me.” I didn’t say these words today though. Today I just got out of there as fast as I could. Plenty of time for heroics another day.