My birthday is tomorrow. I am turning 41. When I turned 40 I was shocked at everything I had accomplished in my previous trip around the sun. And here I am, once again flabbergasted.
And that is my mindset when an Instagram post from Brene Brown, researcher, professor and storyteller, caught my eye. She is posed in front of a billboard with her picture on it on Broadway, advertising her Netflix special. She wrote, “It’s clear that the days of ‘engineering smallness and playing it safe to avoid criticism’ are over.” That caption knocked me over.
I had been “engineering smallness and playing it safe” until I was 39. Now at 41 I have experienced a tremendous amount of growth.
I think there is a misconception that healing from trauma is a return to where we once were. Healing is not time travel to “the before time.” Healing is putting each trauma in its place on your timeline, and securing it in the past where it belongs.
You can say,“that sucked.” You can also say with conviction, “It is over.” And then you move forward.
Simultaneously you are changed by your experiences. You don’t just go back to the way things were. And healing isn’t all unicorns, rainbows, and kittens in baskets. Change, and it is a change, can be deeply uncomfortable. It is just that you can tolerate the discomfort better than before. As part of my own healing came great change. I stopped engineering smallness and began to seek fulfillment.
Unfortunately, not everyone, is going to be thrilled with your change. Even you. I don’t like change for me all the time. Right now, I am squirming in discomfort. But, I accept change as inevitable - I don’t accept it with ease and grace. I am resigned to it and have found my own slow way of moving through transitions. Generally, during great transitions I feel sick to my stomach and vaguely ill at ease.
Some folks however, are going to be thrilled for you! Keep them close. They are going to post words of encouragement on your social media and tell their friends about you. They are rooting for you and are able to keep your best interests at heart. Others, those who have benefitted from your previous lack of boundaries, or your comfort in being unseen and unheard, or those who always thought you were too much - missing the truth that they were not enough - are going to be put out by what you put down when you are healed.
And what of the people in the middle? Keep them the closest. They are oftentimes among some of your closest people, that knew you one way, and are now a little confused or disappointed that things didn’t go back the way they were. But they learn to shift with you. They love you unconditionally. They love all the yous. And even though change is terribly inconvenient they are rooting for you. As part of their unconditional love for you want only the best for you. They want you to find fulfillment. Keep these lovely humans tucked away in your heart.