Just to warn you before you jump to any conclusions based on the title, this piece is not about the Interregnum period in England and Charles II’s restoration to the throne. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you probably never studied British history or literature, and you’re missing out. I strongly recommend grabbing a book and reading about that period—it’s quite interesting—but for now, let’s move on.
If you’ve survived my ever-sparkling, never-ending love for history, you deserve to know that I want to talk about restoration of our individual lives and how to claim back the things that were supposed to be our own to begin with. I have good reason to bring this topic up at this stage of my life. Turning 24 a few weeks ago and undergoing the annual “look back and see what you’ve done with one year of your life” process, I realized that last year was my year of restoration. It was quite painful at times, but even the glimpses of what has been changing in my life are worth that pain.
In the last three months, I’ve been part of intense counseling with a group of amazing ladies, and we’ve helped each other, through and through, to look back at stories of our childhoods and discover how they affected who we are today and what we believe about ourselves. You know what they say, “Everyone has baggage,” but we decided it was time to unload that baggage and unpack. Have you ever thought, “If only people knew about my past or what kind of a person I really am, they would all run away from me”? That was what was in my mind when we started this group, but to my surprise, it was the exact sentiment of every individual there. Apparently, we all have “secrets” that bring us down, that we hide behind to escape our freedom to be truly unique individuals. Does that sound familiar?
I won’t sugarcoat the process: what we did was hard, sometimes so hard that I simply wanted to hide in my room for a year, without seeing anyone. The first time I shared my story of neglect, abuse, rejection and depression, I felt beaten. Being exposed after so many years and shedding light on the darkest areas of my life woke up all the awful creatures sheltering in those dark places. As I was going home after that session, I was frightened, because experiencing such sorrow is painful—but slowly, my heart came back to life. The group was very gracious to me and breathed truth into my story: they told me that I wasn’t to blame for every horrible bit of my life, they taught me how to be more compassionate toward that little girl. In time, the feeling of exposure started to fade away, and the feeling of being accepted for who I truly am took its place. I finally started to let go of the huge clunking chains I had kept carrying around with me, and I can’t begin to tell you **************** how unbelievably serene that sense of emotional freedom is.
The reason why we did this in a group setting instead of individual counseling sessions is pretty simple: hurts, heartbreaks and disappointments happen in relationships—and so does the healing. Of course, there is individual progress as well, but everyone needs that safe environment that welcomes you as you are, doesn’t judge you for what has happened and/or what you have done in the past, and tells you that you are a precious being who is worth more and deserves better. Isn’t that amazing? Even the conflicts we experienced as a group were resolved in this atmosphere, open-heartedly, kindly and honestly. Seeing how deep relationships can actually be and that I can trust people and be vulnerable with them changed my whole perspective on life and human interactions. Even I, an absolute introvert who needs hours of alone time to recharge after spending a few hours with a group, was outgoing and responded wholeheartedly to the stories of others or expressed my disappointment when it came to that.
Am I a completely new person after only three months? The answer would be both yes and no. I’m renewed in the sense that it’s easier to be myself and to put aside all the other “roles” I’ve been playing, but I know the journey does not stop here. I took the hardest step of all—I reclaimed my childhood and learned how to appreciate myself and trust others. I know there is a long way to go, many more steps to take, more heartbreaks to experience, many life-changing decisions to make—after all, I’m only 24—but I’m not afraid, and that makes all the difference.