Over the years I have had a chance to deal with significant, overpowering trauma many, many times. I volunteered as a suicide and crisis hotline worker for almost 5 years. I volunteered as a rape crisis counselor longer than that. And, there is significant trauma in my own background.
Most recently of course, there was my own suicide attempt. The suicide attempt followed a trauma perpetrated by someone so deeply trusted I could never in my worst nightmares have thought it would happen. It was betrayal of the highest, most deliberate and completely knowing order. And in knowing how deeply I got hurt, it took cruelty to a level that still shakes my foundation. Watching me unravel, crushed under the weight of cruelty, the person, who claimed to love me, betrayed me, showed me clearly and loudly that I had no value as a human being – and he turned away completely aware that he had taken actions to crush my spirit. He was ok with hurting me like that. Knowing someone so trusted was ok with hurting me still haunts me deeply. There was nothing accidental about this betrayal.
And as I walk and talk with people I hear many stories of trauma – trauma, heart break, poverty and fear - I hear those stories a lot, and my heart expands in empathy, gratitude for the share, and sadness that these stories are so prevalent.
My walk is in such sharp juxtaposition to those stories – I meet so much generosity of spirit, kindness, excitement, love and beauty.
And I think back to that first suicide attempt, when I broke into a million pieces and I was convinced I would never recover; I didnt even want to try, as I returned from the hospital, clinging on to my kitties for just the smallest amount of humanity.
And as I was reduced to rubble myself, it took almost superhuman strength to plan and start this walk. It took a shift in focus – away from the horror and on to something amazing. And it was a huge effort, still sometimes is an effort, but I am learning how powerful the walk is to touch others with hope and strength. How powerful the walk is to show me the beauty, my own strength, hope and a restoration of faith. An ability to Love completely. And an ability to Love even the one who hurt me to the core – Love, Yes, Forgive, that too – but not excuse or condone the cruelty.
And in the process of shifting my focus away from the trauma and the pain and on to something beautiful that I am capable of creating, a powerful lesson emerges. Because when I keep fighting against the things I don’t want, those are all the things I can see. I become the fight, the fight so consumes me that all I see is the horror. But when I stop the fight and start to build something beautiful the beauty grows; and the beauty has the ability to heal the horror.
I often think about trust – because trust is something I have struggled with most of my adult life and this walk requires an awful lot of trust. This is trust that I show following an incredible betrayal. As I accept the help of road angels, stay with strangers or even have trust that when I need it, help will appear. Even deeper is my trust because right now my heart is so open, so vulnerable – probably more vulnerable than I have ever been before – and I show trust that this vulnerability will not be misused – knowing that at some point, it probably will be.
In fact the trust has been misused already a few times on this walk. When the woman I had entrusted my cats to all of a sudden was willing to put my babies in a kill shelter, that was a betrayal of trust. Or, when the guy I fell inlove with chose to have two women at the same time and then let me know on facebook that he was in a relationship – that too was a betrayal of trust, and I got deeply hurt both times.
Truth is, I have lived through too much. I know I might get hurt on the trail – actually, I almost expect there will be various hurts along the way. Yet, I still choose to Trust over and over again. And so far, I have seen so much beauty come from that trust. So, I trust, not because people always deserve it, but because when I trust, I make room for the good things. I open up my heart and my being to all the good life has to offer. Fully knowing I will see some of the horror as well. I will get my very open heart trampled exactly because I am so open. It is my job to be strong enough to handle those hurts, because if I close my heart, stop the empathy, start to fight then all I am left with – is the fight; the trauma and the horror.