Deep down I knew that when it came to healing, I still had some work to do. I decided to dust off my copy of Trauma and Recovery by Judith Lewis Herman. Herman explains that the first principle of recovery is empowerment. That others may offer advice, support and care, but not cure. For any intervention, no matter how well-intentioned, that takes away your power is not in fact a healing relationship. So I really wanted to learn a way to heal myself, but I wasn’t quite sure how and where to start. And then, on a beautiful summer’s day in the forest I met a wolf. As I looked into her kind and wise eyes, I immediately felt that she was the one to ask for help. The wolf told me a story about how other animals process trauma. A deer who survives an attack will find a hiding place and start to shiver. This helps to shake out the excess charge in her body. Trembling is a natural response to trauma that some of us have unlearned or forgotten. But by trusting our bodies, we can re-member it again.
I have a confession to make: I have never actually been up in a tree. I am more of a ground squirrel, you see. It is about time that this changed, so I asked a friend – who is excellent with this sort of thing – to help me. “How about tomorrow?” he said. “Well, that seems a bit soon,” I replied, as I tried to think of a valid excuse. “Tomorrow it is then!” So the very next day I found myself at the foot of a beautiful beech tree, feeling weak at the knees. “Did I mention I have a fear of heights?” I stuttered. But I was here now and might as well give it a go. The first two meters or so were difficult, but once I got the hang of it I discovered that I LOVE climbing trees. I learned that sometimes fear is just an illusion that we create ourselves and then get tangled in. When we let go of the illusion, our fears disappear like snow melting in the sun. The experience also taught me that I should really embrace Pippy Longstocking’s motto: I have never tried it before, so I think I should definitely be able to do it.
When you live in paradise, you need never go on holiday. My little house at the beach is everything I could ever dream of. For the first time in over a year, I decided I was longing for a change of scenery and so I went on a little trip to the Veluwe woodlands. There is something about leaving everything behind – if only just for a moment. To discover unfamiliar territory and venture into an unknown world. When I arrived, it was still warm and so I headed out for an evening walk. The world was covered with rhododendrons in every colour of the rainbow. I followed a little stream into the forest and noticed something moving in the first tree I came upon. Lo and behold – it was a tiny red squirrel. I sat down in the grass beneath her. In this moment away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, I let all of my dreams flood over me. It allowed me to zoom out and see the bigger picture – how far I have come and what is still ahead. To dust off my compass and see the direction it’s pointing towards.
Ever since I founded the factory, I’ve always been busy doing something. Over the years there have been ups and downs, but no matter what else has happened in my life, I’ve been squirreling around my workshop. But the past few weeks have been so different. I’ve just been sitting around, watching youtube videos, scrolling through facebook, rearranging entries in my address book, running errands and finding reasons not to be at home. Occasionally I’ve given it another try, but I just end up staring at a blank screen for an indiscriminate amount of time. It feels like all the things I’m passionate about have been stuffed in a pretty little jar on the window sill, the lid screwed on tight. So what do you do, when you ain’t got no flow? I wish I had an easy answer to that question, some magical ingredient that you can sprinkle around like fairy dust and that will transform everything. But there isn’t. You just have to wait until the wind changes. But what if it won’t, you ask? What if it won’t change? That question I can answer. For as the wise Heraclites said, the only thing that is constant is change. So don’t despair, for nothing remains the same.
Seven years. Seven years ago today I fell prey to a hawk, his sharp claws leaving marks on my body. Seven years, they say, it takes for the cells in your body to have been replaced by new ones. This miracle of regeneration means that this body of mine hasn’t been violated. That he hasn’t touched me. And that after all these years of healing, I can begin again: unmarred, unharmed, untouched. It is time to leave the past behind. The scar he left on my soul will always be there, of course. But I’m ok with that. For me it’s a reminder that the world isn’t filled only with butterflies and dandelions. That there’s bad and good, dark and light, yin and yang. That there are dangers lurking in the shadows of the forest. And that you must always trust your intuition when it tells you it isn’t safe. But it also reminds me that there are things that can never be taken away from me. As Maya Angelou said, you are a child of god. So keep your warrior heart soft and follow the guidance of your inner light.