It’s just past Midsummer now. The longest day has been and gone and there was lots of reflection on what has gone and what to bring forth into the remainder of the year. I approached this Solstice with a bit of a spring in my step, I was moving more freely through the sludge and I attribute some of this to something I did for myself earlier in June.
Whilst researching trauma some time ago I came accross a PDF of a booklet called ‘Sky before the storm’ it was an easy to read piece of writing about the effects of trauma and how to navigate it. After I read it I noticed it was published by a charity that existed in Northern Ireland called The Wider Circle and that they specialised in helping to heal trauma. On further investigation I found out that they run a weekend retreat that you can attend and try to start assimilating your trauma story into your life. The retreat is free to attend and includes food and a room for the weekend.
I tentatively telephoned the number to request an application for a place on a retreat that was coming up in Ballycastle in June. I ended up crying at the very nice lady on the other end of the line and kind of realised that yes maybe I REALLY need to try this.
Forms were sent out, filled in and returned and after some time I found that I had secured a place on the retreat. Now this is where the doubts and fears started to rush in. ‘Do I really want to do this?’ What if I can’t handle it?’ ‘Am I too ill for this right now?’ This was something I had to do alone (no safety person allowed!), something that was going to stretch me. But hey, maybe I needed a little stretching!
As time drew closer I was sent a pack with directions, housekeeping type stuff and the itinerary for the weekend, THE ITINERARY FOR THE WEEKEND! This is where my brain, to put it bluntly, crapped itself. The days were long and went beyond my normal bedtime, the time I jealously guarded because it kept me safe from, heaven forbid, feeling tired and being scared about feeling tired. I was starting to doubt the whole endeavour and told myself off for having grandiose ideas about healing.
As I know by now though, healing is tough work. It’s messy, it’s hard, it’s scary and for it to work I have to push myself. So the day arrived and I set off up to the North coast in my trusty car and decided to just go with it.
I won’t go into too much detail about the nuts and bolts of the weekend as it is not my place to discuss the method used by The Wider Circle, I don’t want to send anyone off half cocked into trying it themselves and getting all tangled up. I also will make no mention of any other participants, this is highly private and confidential stuff. Suffice to say though, it seemed to…. well it kind of…. it worked.
There was a brief meltdown on the Saturday due to only getting two hours sleep the previous night and it making the day seem like an extremely long road to go down. This my friends though was where the biggest learning occurred. I attended every last minute of the sessions, even the ones that went past my bedtime, even the ones where I was bog-eyed with fatigue and guess what? I DIDN’T DROP DEAD! There was a time I wanted to run away, the Lauren from eight months ago may have done just that. But I stayed, I tested my very limits and realised that my limits went far above and beyond where I had set them nice and low, in my safe place.
It helped that the setting was beyond glorious. We were right on the coast overlooking Rathlin Island.
Everytime I got nervous, I looked out at that view, took a deep breath and realised that I’m a speck in amongst the vastness and beauty of all that is out there. This made my heart fill with joy to think that my trauma isn’t even remotely the biggest thing in existence. Perspective that I am only just coming to realise and accept.
I came away from this retreat lighter. Something had lifted. It was a simple process but highly effective. I had some integrating of healing to do when I got home but even now three weeks later I’m somehow less consumed by my trauma, I don’t think about it as much, I have a renewed enthusiasm for life and the drops, when they come, which they do, are easier to scale out of. I’m not saying this is an instant cure, do this and you’ll be healed forever. We all know by now recovery doesn’t work that way. I am however uplifted, hopeful, excited and most importantly more at peace. Also ‘tired’ is much less of a threat than it used to be, I think tired has been the place where I needed to stretch and learn.
The Wider Circle are a registered Charity and rely on donations to provide the wonderful work they do. Please take a look at their website here and donate or buy publications if you so require. Also if you are in need of some trauma healing in Northern Ireland please be brave and get in touch with them.