“The ties that bind us are sometimes impossible to explain. They connect us even after it seems that the ties should be broken. Some bonds defy distance and time and logic.” –Meredith Grey (Grey’s Anatomy)

We don’t get through this life unscathed.

Trauma, hurts, abuse, pain, all manner of threatening experiences, all of these things are a part of what it means to experience humanity. The uniqueness of man, to borrow from Pascal, is the great paradox of creation, capable of the highest grandeur and the worst misery. We have the ability to think and reflect, a rationality and the free will to make choices. Our minds are wondrous creations, so it is doubly painful when our rational intellect gets turned against itself. When our memories hold us prisoners, grasping onto the experience, constantly replaying them, and in so doing, rekindling all of the attendant emotions of an event. To truly overcome, first we survive, then we heal, then we live again.

When pain comes, we will survive at any cost. We will do what we have to to protect ourselves. Even if it means that we rush to security in whatever form we can find it in our need to regain power and control. Sometimes we do that at the cost of healing. We slap a plate of armor over a wound rather than gently exposing it, letting it scab up, and wait for the scab to fall off. In the name of protecting ourselves, we deprive ourselves, become afraid to feel, and we can perceive even good things as threats to our security. So, in our rush to protect ourselves, we instead become ruled by fear.

A: i want to have a burning ceremony. i still have cards and stuff from him and i just want to burn it all away
M: you need company for it?

A: i might actually. depending on what mood i’m in, i might try to jump in too
M: i’ll catch you.

We also need to do what we have to do to heal. We don’t appreciate ritual and tradition as a culture. We are prone to social amnesia. The power of ritual is that it renews what you believe. Renews and remembers, which is why symbol is important. Symbols have power. We say “never forget” but without ritual, without the days of remembrance, we’ll do just that. Sometimes we have to go through the motions of a ritual of some sort to bring closure and begin the healing process.

We then need to find a place of belonging, empowerment, security, and survival. A healthy and healing community, a family to restore us. Faith can drive us to deeper pleasures and joy, as it allows us to center ourselves securely in God’s loving hands. There is a healing to be found in the Divine, resting in Him, turning those memories over to Him. And, lastly, we need to experience and practice the power of forgiveness, not just of your abuser, but also for yourself. How often have we not bothered to forgive ourselves, but instead turn that anger, the poison that comes from holding onto the hate, and turning it inward?

Yes, sometimes the key is simply to survive. After a time, you need to get back to living. Don’t let past pain define and control you. It’s easier said than done, but know that there is healing to be had. And friends who will walk through that long journey (and it may be a long journey) alongside you.

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