SOUL | TRAUMA CHOICES + SHAME SHADOWS

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At work, the gals decided to start implementing quarterly "flower play days" to help replenish and nurture our love for flowers and floral design. Our inaugural play day was a few weeks ago, and I brought my camera along to take some photos of everyone at work, including their final products. We all made several pieces and they brought us all a lot of joy; to get outside of our everyday mode of designing and working and just try your hand at something new felt really refreshing. Something outside of the box. Something you've been meaning to try. It felt really good to play uninhibited in this medium, as flowers can be so symbolic and expressive of how one feels. This post will be littered with photos from this day.

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This time of year always leaves me feeling contemplative. The colder days warm up, the sun stays out longer, the blooms start to burst from the ground. I'm welcoming my first Spring as a mother. I wonder often if my boy will like playing outside. Will he enjoy long days in the sun? Will he go on adventures? Maybe he will have allergies, like his mama and daddy do. There's always a lot of hope in this season shift in particular. There is something to inviting about the coming warmth of Spring that calls for much introspection. What do I want out of this year?

I spent the entire year leading up to the birth of my son buried deep in therapy and learning to understand why I am the way I am. While there are no clear answers to that, nor will there really ever be, accepting that I carry a lot of my emotional weight as a result of my experienced trauma was a very large part of that.

If you're like me, it took you years, maybe even decades, to realize you endured abuse or mistreatment. When even an inkling of self-compassion started to creep in, you hurriedly locked it away and said, "That's not for me," thinking no. No, there must be a greater reason I feel this way. It's me. It's my self worth. This is who I am. This is how I will always be.

Then the times comes. It was only when you reached your lowest point that you stopped, released some of those pent up emotions, and finally had a clear look at all of your trauma pieces laid out in front of you after spending days, weeks, months or years trying to unload them all. This is your first clear, unadulterated view in who knows how long, laying out all of these disordered puzzle pieces. Then the realization slowly comes to you. I was abused. I was mistreated. I was beaten down. This is not who I am but a byproduct of my experience and I am here to make amends. I accept that this took place. I accept that this happened to me. It's not who I am, it is what someone tried to make me believe I am. That liberating moment you realized you had locked away your trauma and hidden the key was the moment you felt the most free in your life. It's as if you breathed for the very first time. Everything felt new. Everything. I will remember this moment in my life for as long as I live; the day I realized and accepted my trauma.

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I spent months riding an emotional high after I faced my truth - I was free. I knew I was wronged. All of these bad feelings make sense! I am not crazy. Who wouldn't struggle in my position? I felt that now, since I had finally accepted my trauma, I was released from my burdens of shame and guilt. I knew why I felt so low and had so many terrible coping mechanisms. Someone wronged me! The answer was clear.

But I was wrong. There is so much more. I had not accepted my trauma choices.

When you learn about your trauma and accept your abuse, that feeling is so incredibly freeing. However, this action of acceptance does not stand alone. Accepting your abuse is step one. There is so much more to it. Step two is releasing the shame surrounding our trauma choices. I say trauma choices to describe the choices we made in life (that we must take ownership of) that were very heavily influenced by our low self-worth surrounding our unaccepted trauma. We make so many choices that are dissociative and act as coping mechanisms to our trauma. You lied. You stole. You cheated. You turned your back. You did x, y, and z so you could cope with how low you felt as an individual. These shame shadows will continue to follow you around until you stop, forgive yourself and release the shame around these choices.

What choices have you made that you're still clinging to? What is following you around? Write it down. Any choice you've made that you haven't released the shame of will be your shadow. A shadow translates to emotional weight. Emotional weight will keep us buried beneath our trauma. 

Don't let the fear of forgiving yourself stop you from releasing the shame. It sounds silly, because who wouldn't want to feel better? Yet our past choices are something we struggle with forgiving everyday.

If you can, write out every choice or action you've made that you hold shame around. Then, right next to it, write out why you felt you needed to do it. Understanding your WHY will help you to show yourself compassion around this decision.

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Here is a list of books/journals/meditiations that helped me, many were suggested by friends, and I want to pay it forward and recommend them to you. 

1 / THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE by Bessel van der Kolk
2 / DARING GREATLY by Brene Brown
3 / THE GIFTS OF IMPERFECTION by Brene Brown
4 / #ANOTE2SELF Méditation Journal by Alex Elle
5 / TAKE YOUR SOUL TO WORK by Erica Brown (recommended by Alex Elle)

May the coming warmer, more promising days of Spring call you to get outside, work through those uncomfortable memories, and work on freeing up shame space where love and acceptance should be. It is my goal to be more gentle and accepting of myself and make room for more goodness.