Our core sister Veronica Agard recently wrote a piece that shares her journey as she heals from long-standing trauma. Please read this with care. The original post can be found here

And when there is a promise of a storm, if you want change in your life – walk into it. If you get on the other side, you will be different. And if you want change in your life and you’re avoiding the trouble – you can forget it.  – Sweet Honey in the Rock

It’s been said that when something is hard to write, chances are that’s exactly what you need to write.

If that’s the case, then I should have wrote this years ago, but I’ll start six months ago.

In January, I wrote a love letter to myself on the different healing methods I was exploring. Since then, I stuck with capoeira the longest. A constant test of my limits and comfort zone, prioritizing my health opened up pathways and conversations that otherwise wouldn’t happened.

A few weeks ago, during a freestyle session, a friend challenged me to this, “as reflective as you are, I want you to think about why you’re struggling with just playing.” And I was struggling. Capoeira inherently is taught to throw you off balance and push your limits, but the goal of this particular session was to just be, and to just play. Yet the idea of being completely free stirred up a long standing part of my story that I’d been trying (and failing) to ignore.

This essay is another love letter, but it’s also a response to that question, a testimony, and might get a little messy.

It’s messy because it’s painful and because I’ve known the answer to that challenge for what feels like lifetime.

A lifetime because nothing goes away until we’ve learned the lesson or gained the insight that we were meant to receive.

Displacement of pain is not healing. When we take on someone else’s hurt, or we set the hurt aside and do not confront it and feel it in its fullness and complexity, we do not allow the wound/trauma to truly heal. Healing takes time, and sometimes the process of healing is more painful than the initial hurt itself. Be patient with the process of forgiveness, of growth, of betterment, of rebirth, of re-creation. – Jana Lynne Umipig

When I was eleven, I was molested – and there are people who have known me for decades that have no idea. Family too.

Eleven is such a critical age, but particularly in my case as this was when I had just started puberty. At a time when I should of been getting to know the young woman I was becoming, I did everything in my power to hide. I felt silenced because this was someone in the community, and even though I told my mother, I never reported it. I wanted it to be over and tried to gloss over the pain.

My mother and I saw them one day in the local mall with their daughter and I felt compelled to shed my skin – that’s how badly it was crawling. They smiled and asked how I was doing as if nothing had happened. As if I wasn’t told to “keep it a secret.” As if my mother wasn’t prepared to go to war for me on the spot and cause a scene.

I went from a girl who was unapologetic about the space she held to someone who barely made eye contact when speaking with others. From free flowing and moving through ballet, to not training or doing any movement work until fifteen years had passed.

As it turns out, I was not the only one that been harmed by the same individual, as they were brought up on charges during my junior year of high school. I thought about calling, but thought that my trauma wasn’t “as bad” as the others who they forced into ongoing cycles and years of abuse.

In hindsight, I realize now that the vast majority of the “relationships” I entered in high school were toxic because I was ignoring my trauma. I was struggling to grasp that cycles of abuse run rampant and are systemic. An epidemic.

When I got out, and went to college, I started to understand how deep these cycles are. I gained the language to interpret what I was going through in organizing communities and healing spaces. And what a privilege it was. The transition to get to the discovery that I am not defined by that moment in time may be a conscious effort for the rest of my life.

The Gods decided that I needed a reminder to continue to make that conscious effort.

To continue to be a warrior for my life.

To be comfortable with the fires that I’ve set around me.

To learn more about my shadow, where that unapologetic little girl has been chilling for years, waiting for me to turn around.

To embodied in my power, but check my ego.

To let the love that is expressed to me truly land.

To wade all the way into my truths.

Our friends, loved ones and families often serve as mirrors, and I’m blessed to say that in the past six months, they almost blinded me. The light they gave back to me scared the shit out of me because it made me turn around to find an eleven year old version of myself giving me our trademark side-eye. I am that light. Half way into twenty five, this is my truth.

I couldn’t handle my own glare and the shadow that it cast. Now I’m working on embracing it. This is my litany for survival.