A friend of mine told me that after her recent uterine cancer diagnosis, many other women “came out” to her about having the same health issue. She could tell how urgently they needed to be heard. They felt they finally found someone who would get it; someone who was safe to share with because she was in the same place they had been.

She told me “there’s compassion and there’s knowing.”

They trusted her because they knew she would understand the particular way their lives had been disrupted and their safety threatened. They were aware of how unimaginable their situation had been before the diagnosis.

For them it wasn’t enough for someone to have faced a serious illness, or even had cancer. For them to feel fully received it had to be more specific and personal.

When you are facing serious life changes and even survival, the need for the other person to be able to know you is often more important than how close you are or how loving and comforting they can be.

Most of the time, if you’ve gone to war, or lost a child, or been terrorized by a parent, there is a distance between you and those who try to sympathize and support you. They mean well, but you can feel the ways in which they can’t really understand, and it can’t be explained.

They don’t know.

Healing requires compassion. It requires a place for the energy to go. And usually that means someone will have to “hold space” for you to have some place to send it.

That can’t be just anyone.

It has to be someone you feel safe being seen by; someone who won’t judge you or pity you or be alarmed by your damage.

This can also be true for the receiver. If you’ve experienced the death of a loved one, you know how weird and avoidant others often get. On some level they can feel their inability to be with your pain or truly understand what you’re going through.

We have all gone through a great series of traumas lately, with more to come. And even though it may feel like we’re all facing roughly the same circumstances, we are all having highly individualized versions and responses.

As we each attempt to process our specific trauma constellation, it’s particularly important that we honor the truth of our experience, that we find and connect with people who we feel can know us, and that we also offer to hold space for those whose predicament is known to us.

If your spirit is prompting you to have a conversation about finding the safety to process your trauma, I encourage you to consider working with me.

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