‘How to deal with the void inside/ the need to run away’.
My friend crumbled up the note I wrote for our topic meeting today. I held my breath.
The room was small today, the bad weather keeping away everyone but the regulars.
I didn’t mind, I needed to hear from people who had been travelling this road of trauma recovery for longer than I had.
A guy in his late forties to the right of me was first to speak up. He shifted in his seat, uncomfortable at first, then slowly easing into his words as he spoke.
‘It’s hard to accept your flaws if you’re not even aware of them yet. You’re just now coming to terms with your past, looking at your resentments and seeing what part you’ve playing in your own pain… it’s like someone who’s wheelchair bound and not aware of having lost his legs. How is he going to accept and move on if he doesn’t know? It takes time.’
I’m still taking in his insight when the next person speaks up.
‘I’m not sure the void inside ever goes away. Even now, I can still feel it, especially on bad days…’ her voice is weak, trailing off as she ponders her thoughts. A young girl of nearly thirty and sat opposite me, I was struggling to catch her eyesight as she was hiding behind a long mane of brown hair.
‘It’s definitely a process. I’m learning a lot along the way, especially patience and mercy with everyone, most of all with me. I’m not sure this is helpful, but it does get easier.’
She flashes a smile at me, and I smile back. I’ve only known this girl for a month, and already she is family.
More people share one by one, and with each I learn more about the path ahead of me.
Faith in the process, in getting better, in the community… my friend’s advice echo each other. Even the most trivial tip by the oldest member of our group was hopeful.
‘Just do the work‘ he shrugs, ‘the rest will work itself out. Give up the need to control your entire life every day. When you don’t try to force things, the right things will happen by themselves.’
I nod. I might not understand it yet, but it feels right.
The meeting wraps up, and we go for coffee afterwards as usual. I end up spending hours in conversation with a hobby hiker and a therapist, two people I had been admiring for weeks now.
It’s still staggering to me just how much we all have in common: the way we speak about our mothers, how we’re people pleasers, how bad we are at accepting help. Coming from all paths of life, I’m ashamed to say I would have judged them before circumstances forced us all into the same room. How could I not be grateful to my suffering if it allowed me to grow beyond my old, scared self?
The void inside me is already shrinking, and this time I won’t be able to run away.
The love these people have shown for me has grown roots, for me to carry around forever.
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