The start of a new year is a natural time to work on resolutions. I can’t open my browser without stumbling on somebody’s plan to lose weight, make it through weekdays without television, or eat more kale. (No judgment -- I applaud all of these, even the kale!) But for some of you, you have your sights on something more life-changing. You might be looking in the mirror and wondering if this is the year you finally tackle That Big Thing -- a trauma or personal obstacle that is getting in your way. That Big Thing that you suspect if you just dig in, if you just go deep, might lead you to your best self.
This post is for you.
A little over four years ago, I was in a much different place than I am now. On the surface though, I would say things actually looked a lot like they do now. I was a mom to two (younger) kids, a wife to a very busy husband, and juggling an intellectually and emotionally challenging career. But below the surface -- actually really far below, because at the time I was the Queen of Compartmentalization -- I was being held back because I was holding onto a trauma that was threatening to swallow me whole.
I was a victim of childhood sexual abuse and had told almost nobody about it. And it felt like it was killing me.
Now that I’m on the other side of finally addressing this experience, it seems almost surreal that I was so afraid to even utter the words. But back then, it was this horrible, shameful thing that bubbled deep and poisoned nearly every relationship and efforts at personal growth. I felt guilty and toxic and hurt and angry and scared and ruined -- all because of this thing that was beyond my control and that had happened decades ago.
This is not a post about that abuse. But it is about how I *finally* decided to do something about it and get on with my life -- and how I really think that surrounding yourself with the right resources, you can, too.
Back to four years ago. Three important things happened that changed everything and brought me to the place where I am now: free, resilient, and proud to be a survivor rather than a victim.
I found my support network: Around this time, I found two friends who provided the kind of unconditional support that I needed to feel safe disclosing what had happened to me. (Bonus: one would become my business partner some day!) They were willing to be vulnerable and admit to having flaws, secrets, and struggles -- and I, in turn, felt okay admitting I had the same. Finding my people, the kind of who accepted me not despite my problems or “weird” stuff but because of them, was critical. Feeling secure made me feel less fearful about telling others what had happened to me and when I did, I felt instantly lighter, this dark thing no longer holding any power over me. Going at this alone is hard and unnecessary. If you are thinking about working through something difficult, look to your loved ones and lean on them to help lift you up.
I found my therapist: Once I confided in my friends, they urged me to find a professional. Depending on the trauma or issue you are working through, a therapist might be what you need. Mine specialized in childhood trauma and was exactly what I needed to navigate the trickier issues creating mental blocks including guilt and shame. Spoiler alert: this is not easy work. I am still, after nearly four years, meeting with my therapist every week. There have been plenty of tears, pushes to have awkward conversations, and some of the most difficult self-reflection ever. But the rewards have been substantial. I’ve learned about post-traumatic resilience, how to navigate anxiety, and build a toolbox that has provided closure in a way I never imagined. (If you need help finding a therapist, you can start here. Need some affordable or free options? Start here.)
I found my crystal: I have a small chunk of Malachite that I keep with me almost all the time. My youngest daughter calls it “the crystal that made your heart beat again.” It was given to me as a gift from Luigi (my co-founder at Smudge), some time after I had shared with him That Big Thing. At the time, I knew crystals, but didn’t yet know them. I thought of them as pretty objects that some people thought contained healing energy. When I held the Malachite in my hand for that first time, however, I felt buzzy. (I have tried over the years to find a better descriptor, but that really is the best word!) It felt like an extension of my hand, something that was now firmly and powerfully part of my orbit. I felt strong. When I did some research the next day, I was told that malachite was good for “emotional strength” and helped people address traumatic past sexual experiences -- something Luigi was unaware of when he picked it out for me (!!!). It felt meant-to-be, very much in a wowowowowow, cosmically connected sort of way. From that moment, my Malachite was my energetic sidekick, accompanying me as both a power boost and symbolic reminder that I was not only capable of dealing with my childhood trauma, but that I was literally made for conquering it.
I know that it might not ever feel like the right time to dive into something difficult -- especially if it is something deeply personal and painful. And certainly, I will be the first to tell you that there is no judgment in waiting until you feel ready. But for those thinking about adding That Big Thing to your New Year’s Resolution List?
I see you. I hear you. I am here for you.
The fine print. The contents of the Smudge Wellness website, including this blog post ("content"), are for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your mental health. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on Smudge Wellness.