WriteTogether Reflection: Week 11

The first week of the year seemed to drag on for about ten thousand years. Maybe it was because it was a short week after such an intense few months, or because we were on day eleventy-seven of sick child, this week just seemed to last forever. The prompts were a welcome break from it all and I kind of wished I had more days of prompts because of that.

My upbringing and the trauma I experienced throughout my childhood and young adulthood reinforced to me that I wasn’t a person. Just being able to sit with a question like “if all the money, time, and support were available to me with no strings attached, what would I do or work on for myself this year?” without immediately flipping the question or writing about what I want for everyone else this year was an intense realization. I have done so much internal work to get myself to a space where I can consider what I want for me without the guilt and shame that used to envelope me, so much work to recognize myself as a person too. There was a bit of overwhelming relief that washed over me when I noticed I had spent my writing time literally dreaming about what I wanted for me this year and it had felt great. A little twinge of that guilt, a tiny little whisper “you’re not worthy of this imagining,” and I was able to simply acknowledge those misgivings and allow them to move out of my body and mind.

I didn’t stay in them, or let them take over. And I didn’t feel like I needed to.

That may not seem like a big deal to most, but as I glance back at what we’ve been writing about in this journey, and the patterns of existence that were shaped into me by my upbringing, society, and the other traumas I have experienced… it is a massively validating moment.

If you have followed me for long, you know that I use the months of December and January to reflect on the past year and envision where I am going in the next. I set my intentions for the year at the beginning of February, once I’ve cleared out and wrapped up the work from the previous year and really taken some time to notice what is emerging. I have been really intentional these last few years to take that “extra” time to notice what threads need to be cut, and what ones need to be pulled through from year to year. It allows me time to really check my values and realign myself to them. And it has served me, and those I serve, well. It also allows me to hold space for myself and others to get through January without losing our marbles.

You see, January can be a tough month in my field for those of us who have experienced trafficking and exploitation.

I used to spend the month running ragged trying to educate people, trying to get people to understand where they were getting it wrong and begging people to get it right. I used to scrap and fight and try my damndest to be seen as a human being, to prove I was not what everyone imagined me to be. I used to accept every invitation to speak, every request for an interview, and every single invitation to attend an event…not anymore.

Now I spend time focusing on breathing through it. Navigating overexposure to sensationalized information about what happened to me as a child and highly salacious stories being told in the name of raising awareness can take a lot of energy. I used to ignore how much it was taking from me, pretend I had more to spare and save nothing for myself or my family. Now I hold space for myself and for other survivors, and I spend energy protecting those I hold dear, including myself. And I let the rest of it go.

I worked intensely to survive.
I am doing the work to heal and return to my full self.
I am powerful.
I am worthy.
I don’t have anything to prove.
I can dream about what I want for myself.

See what I did there? Back next week.