A Letter for when Times are Hard

I started doing EMDR again with my therapist yesterday and it left me with a night of fitful sleep and hypnogogic hallucinations. At four a.m. I decided to give up and get out of bed. The birds are just beginning to sing and the night sky is becoming lighter in the East. The feeling of shakiness in my body is all too familiar, though I haven’t experienced it in quite this way since I last participated in EMDR. I’ve decided to write a letter to myself for future me to read when trauma is arising and I’m feeling unstable.

Dear Future Self Feeling Hard Stuff,

I see that you are in a difficult place again, feeling uncertain and shaky and ready to run away. Know this: you survived terrible horrors, saw the effects tear apart you life again and again, and have come to this island in the storm before. You were strong enough to endure through years of abuse in childhood and then again in your early adult years. You kept your head above the churning waters of trauma. You never once shied from doing the work of healing. And though you often fell to the bottom of that sea of horror, you rose up to breathe again.

It’s possible you could have abandoned this holy work of healing years ago. Maybe lived your life in some half-ghost state of walking through life as a shell of yourself. Instead, you looked always to what could sustain you in your struggle and guide you to places where you could own the darkness. There you stood strong in yourself and in the work before you. You looked deep, found the wounded places and tended them with diligence and loving care, even when it felt doing so would most certainly kill you.

You have emerged from the depths so many times, I have lost count. You would arise, hold onto to the safety you created and revel in life without immediate danger, whether from yourself or another. And when you felt rested from the work, your ever so clever mind/body sent you back to face the past still living in your cells and heart.

You have an abiding ability to delve into your own depths, despite your fear and the knowledge you will once again shake with the damage done to you so long ago. You know who your allies are, for you have seen over the years who can stand by you and witness the darkness and who cannot. Your tool-belt is familiar and well used and will serve well through another round of healing and repair.

You can trust yourself to know where the wounds are, how to touch them gently and apply the right medicine. You are the light in your own darkness. The light of all lights.

With loving grace and witness,
Your past self