Spring is a time of renewal. We hear that all the time. Those of you who have enjoyed my nature photography may be surprised to learn that I used to dread the approach of spring. I loved winter. Give me some grey, cold skies, the silence that comes with a blanket of snow. I could relate to this, but spring, with its jubilant nature, its explosion of color and new life, was uncomfortable for me. I could never really put my finger on a reason, nothing specific that happened as the season turned each April or May. Nevertheless, I would literally bear down on my emotions and wait for it to pass.
As some of you are aware, I am a survivor of mother-daughter sexual abuse. I have written about it over the years, mostly for myself, as part of the therapeutic process, and more recently have shared two essays with all who desire to read them. If you wish to access the first one immediately, you can go here, and you can readily find Part Two at the website. https://visionsofsong.com/2013/09/04/on-forgiveness-trust-and-desire-part-one/
A couple of years ago, I learned about an organization called Making Daughters Safe Again. MDSA is led by Dr. Christine Hatchard, Psy.D, a practicing clinical psychologist who also teaches at Monmouth University in New Jersey. From their mission statement: The mission of Making Daughters Safe Again (MDSA) is to support and advocate for survivors of mother-daughter sexual abuse (mdsa), to educate professionals and the general public, and to inspire action, knowledge, healing and hope. You can read much more at the website: http://mdsa-online.org/
I am both thrilled and terrified by the notion that women who have had this experience come together at retreats and workshops to share with and support each other. Last year, I purchased a copy of a DVD that was created with the support of MDSA staff, Who Will Love Me? It’s an incredible effort, with four woman sharing frankly and with a tremendous amount of courage their experiences of mother-daughter sexual abuse. I was aware that though each story was unique, there were some commons threads, themes, and I immediately recognized them. I have a story, too.
In a few weeks, I’ll be attending a special weekend retreat with MDSA. It was no surprise to me that as soon as I was confirmed for attendance, my body started sending me signals. First, there was the harsh thump to my chest, sort of near the upper esophagus, the place where I have historically gotten “choked up” when I am under stress. I worked with that through deep breathing and other techniques. For a long time in my life I would read my body’s pain signals as meaning: AVOID! I know my body well, now, and recognize some of the pain I feel in different parts of it right now as related to the processing of what I am about to embark on, this journey towards greater wellness.
It’s going to be really nerve-wracking and scary. I’m just putting that out there because although I want to do it, and I’m ready to go even though it’s still a few weeks away, I hold that it’s important to be more up front about how I feel. Fear and trust can live together, and knowing this allows me to take steps that would have been impossible at other times in my life.
I think I will have a lot to say about the experience once I’ve returned and processed it. It’s hard to know if I’ll share that right away, or if I’ll sit with it a while. I do look forward to sharing some of my thoughts and feelings about it with you.
Oh, and it’s good to be able to enjoy the days of spring. They really are gifts.