2017: A Year in Review

The Metaphor of the Storm

“Reflections while driving in The Golden Sparrow”

As the norm, I am driving in the Golden Sparrow and the song on my playlist begins to play “Healing Begins” by Tenth Avenue North.  I like all kinds of music, especially singer songwriters.  As I listen, I reflect on 2017, and all that has occurred in my life.  What it has meant to me and what I have learned about who I am.  Reflections for many of us may not bring the sweet nostalgia that is usually felt at the end of a year for 2017 will be remembered for Hurricane Harvey -the year of the big storm.  The year we all came together to overcome and heal a shared trauma.  As you reflect on 2017, you may feel the tinge of pain that the storm inflicted upon you. The memories may not be so bitter sweet – it is the reality of trauma. But the storm is as symbolic as it was real. It serves as a metaphor and may represent what is needed to be washed away in each of us so that space is made available for the newness that is to be.

“What did the Big Storm of 2017 Wash Away?”

As I reflected and drove, I thought about what my clients had shared with me about their own reflection of the year, I listened to feelings of newly felt and expressed hope as well as a new ability and understanding of forgiveness.  I heard about new understandings and challenges taken, about fears overcome and I heard about gratitude.  I had heard about new growth and changes in perspectives, and new abilities learned in awareness and mentalization (the ability to see how others interpret you). As one of my clients stated, “The work I’ve been doing in individual and group therapy has helped me see more clearly that it was my own belief and expectations, that is, the story I was telling myself about what others intentions were that was making me suffer, not them at all.  They weren’t intentionally being malicious, they were only doing the same thing I was, believing the story they were telling themselves.  I have come to understand that people are not out to hurt me but rather protecting themselves just like me.  It has been a game changer in my understanding of relationships.  I feel more empowered and confident.” With renewed clarity, my client was able to let go of the resentments she was carrying, create more appropriate boundaries rather than react out of fear and let go of inappropriate guilt.

One of my favorite quotes is “Until you see fear as an opportunity for growth, you won’t grow beyond your current self.”  Moving from a victim stance to owning your own story and seeing life’s experiences as opportunities to help guide you to better understand who you are and what is important to you is indeed a game changer.  Everything, even a trauma like Hurricane Harvey, becomes a mirror to your unique life’s reason and purpose as well as an opportunity to experience your gifts given to you by life. We are not only survivors of things that happen to us, leaving us to find and make meaning from them, but events are symbols of who we are offering reflection of the things we need to free ourselves from.  Hurricane Harvey, just like any traumatic event, and even the entirety of 2017 itself, has come and gone and in the ruins of what it left behind may you also be intimately aware and changed by what it has also washed and cleansed you from – the stories you were believing about what was indeed false reality. What has been washed away in your life and left you with a renewed sense of clarity for what newness will bring in 2018?

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