In my life I have often found that the thing I most desperately long for in others is the quality I am longing for within myself. I have wanted to feel safe. I have wanted friendships that I could trust. I have wanted friends that I could depend on. I have longed at times to be rescued—rescued from my own inner critic, from my own self-judgment, self-doubt, codependence, or sadness. I have wanted to know that I could experience good people that would “always” be there for me, that I could rely on and lean on. These are all normal, valid, and, one might say, even healthy longings.
The issue that I ran into was that most of these qualities and relational comforts that my soul longed for would be a lost cause if I couldn’t first discover them in God and myself. Rather than looking outward for validation and comfort, what I needed most was to look up and look within.
Everything I desired had always been right there inside of me, but why was I afraid to see it?
Perhaps far too many abuses suffered early on had clouded my own self-perception. Perhaps the scathing voices of abusers filled with loathing and contempt had actually settled into my psyche. Maybe I had become a product of my early environment, believing the negative things that were told to me about myself. Coupled with the absence of good things, nurturing words, and positive affirmations, I felt more like a black hole of some sort. Some “thing” that no light could penetrate and even the well-intended kind words of others could not absorb.
Upon reflecting on these beliefs, I realized that receiving these desired qualities in others would only occur for me once I was able to allow God to show them to me in myself. Until then, the pursuit of happiness and comfort in others would be a lost cause.
So I did. I mustered up the courage to take a look within. I examined my wounded spaces, and I felt the sting of healing salve enter those wounds in the form of prayer, mediation, journaling, and therapy. I knew it would sting for a while, but eventually the wounds of rejection, hurt, trauma, and doubt began to heal for good. While they may feel tender at times, they are no longer be open and infected, seeping into my very own self-perception.
This time, the divine loving energy that I was pouring into myself would not be a lost cause; what God started in me, He had always planned to finish. I learned to trust God, and in learning to trust His highest and best intention for my life, I learned to trust me.
I was no longer waiting on God. He, in fact, had all this time been waiting on me. I had to realize that I hadn’t experienced these traumas because of His absence or the absence of His love for me. Instead, I survived them because of His power, redemption, love, and grace.
The hope of deliverance, redemption, effective therapy, and trauma recovery work is not to wallow in our pain forever. Instead, the hope is that we transcend it, we transform it, we overcome it, and perhaps our story will be a guidebook for someone else along the way to do the same.
Today, my tribe is filled with loving, consistent, dependable, honest, supportive men and women that root me on unconditionally. There is no doubt that I have them because they reflect the unconditional love that I was able to embody for myself first. They are an addition to the goodness in my life rather than being a projection of the goodness I lacked and wished I could have for myself.
The healing journey is almost never linear and rarely easy, but it is always worth it.
Michigan born, Texan at heart, global citizen, Bella J. Rockman enjoys delving into the deep waters of conversations that invite authenticity, healing, and connection. Lover of yoga, nature, libraries, and studying abroad, she embraces each day and new person she meets with wonderment and curiosity. Her passion for facilitating conversations that help humanity heal is expanded through her work as a journalist, media correspondent, neurophychotherapist (LPC), and public policy advocate. While out in nature, she often remembers lessons learned growing up from her Nigerian-Native-Irish American grandmother who would tell her, “Put your feet in the earth’s soil; feel God’s creation. Look to the plants to nourish and find healing for yourself through God’s creation. Quiet your anxious heart, listen to the sound of the wind—hear God’s creation. You are one with Creation; you are one with GOD.”