What Is Love & How Do I Know It’s Real?

“Where are the scars?” She asked.

I replied.

“Just because you can’t see them doesn’t make my trauma any less real”

– Catherine Speaks

 

Ooooooo this feels good. This week, I decided to talk about “receiving love” without “receiving abuse” attached. In so many ways, this topic adds on to the conversation of trauma that the world continues to deny having and yet still has.

 

This weekend, I was joined in love and space by a fellow blogger, friend and family member. Kat, who was our Artist of the Week last week came down from Providence to NYC and together, we worked through some serious trauma while also engaging in serious trauma. I am incredibly grateful for this moment and I truly believe that my ancestors send out little maps of synchronicity to where they would like (loudly) for me to go. As I enter adulthood, (am I though?) I am constantly being called to question: Just what is LOVE?

 

I grew up thinking that love meant bullying. I was always seeking someone to love me without conditions. For all of my life, I’ve really just been searching for a deeper love that can only really be found inside. I’m not saying that you can’t be loved until you love yourself, I think that saying is absolutely false. I do believe that there is a certain depth that one acquires when they truly know and love themselves, theres an authenticity. That doesn’t mean that I’m unworthy of love unless I love myself first. Love, in its’ purest form should be reciprocal, should be whole and accepting of various qualities both good and bad. Love is gaining a new understanding. But what does “love” look like, in actuality when we’re used to a narrative of trauma. Just what is LOVE?

 

Moving forward with my life in a truly beautiful and cohesive way looks like me acknowledging but also reckoning with the fact that I don’t really know what love is. I feel it. I taste it. I speak it. I breathe it. But in some way, shape and form. I’m still understanding what love is without some sort of abuse attached and that’s okay. One thing that Kat and I spoke about this weekend is reckoning. How do we each reckon with our trauma, acknowledge the truth, acknowledge the balance of life and then use what we’ve learned from our time of reckoning to fuel our forward moving selves?

 

But maybe that’s too big of a beginning question. Maybe the first question to ask is: what is my trauma? Last year, I watched a lot of physical abuse and myself have been the recipient of much sexual abuse. But the scars are now gone. I should be okay, right? Well, if only life were that simple. You can take as much time to heal as you need. There is no guidebook that says that your healing will be accomplished by this date. For me, I know that I’ll never be in a state of “healed” but in a constant state of “healing”. That’s enough for me. It’s enough that I have the tools to manage my process. But I’m not just managing my own process. There’s a part of Ancestral Remembrance called “blood memory”. It’s the belief that we as humans share our ancestors memories, directly or indirectly, through trauma and joys and inner knowledge. Take time. Remember what ancestry wants to be heard. In many ways, society places value on physical scars and much less value on psychological trauma. Sexual violence, Racism, Sexism, etc can have very real physical scarring, but can also damage the psychological, spiritual and mental realms just as deeply. Let us not forget that. Let us rebel against the idea that only one type of trauma is valid.

 

All experiences have space. Maybe one experience involves more rootwork than another. Rootwork is healing on multiple levels, for me. It’s something that I’ve come to know as my form of a healing practice. I’ll talk more about it as the posts keep coming, but for now, I just want to acknowledge the necessity of experiences having the space and time to breathe life. You are worthy of speaking your truthful experience. We all are.

 

This past weekend, Kat and I spent so much time talking late into the night, wine bottles empty and replaced by steaming mugs of tea. We were connecting, diving deeper into our individual and collective selves. It was work. I suppose I should call it a retreat. The days brought up trauma, searching, seeking, love, and home among so many other thoughts, feelings and ways of existing in the world. Maybe that’s love. I don’t doubt it. I just don’t yet have the courageous and radical language for Family and Wholeness. That’s okay.  Love can be any positive term that you wish it to be. It can be joy, hope, family, self awareness, self care, etc. I’m giving myself the time to figure it out and so should you. Just WHAT is LOVE?