I have not written in ages.  The truth is both Poppy and I have had a rough few weeks. Firstly Poppy came into her first season, then she got ill with an awful skin infection and just this last week, she has been spayed.  So, 2 bouts of anaesthesia and 1 round of antibiotics later, my baby girl is still both tender and healing slowly as I write this. And now the whole world seems to be sick and fearful too.

I’ve done some of my own unravelling in the last few weeks too.  My tennis elbow (an old injury) has been playing up again and some of the trauma in my life has had a surprise and unexpected revisit.  It’s left me tender, reeling and feeling exposed all over again.  In truth, a few shitty weeks for the both of us.

But here is what I’ve learnt along the way: that healing is still happening even on our really shitty days. And I think this is how it is with trauma. We don’t always forgive and we don’t forget.

Poppy is certainly not letting me forget that she was left for the 2nd time in just a few weeks at the vet again.  My woof has been howling her protests at me since she got back.

But somehow, we are healing.  In spite of it all, we are healing.  It is not always loud and not always obvious, even to us.  Sometimes, it’s simply Poppy leaning her weight into my body and just sitting close while I cry.

Sometimes, it feels like the tiniest centimetres, when I wish that the progress could be bounding and fast – going 120 on the freeway with the wind rushing through my fingers.

I want to get better immediately, because I hurt so much.  Because on the bad days, it can feel like hell still.  I didn’t know that trauma doesn’t end when the event is over.  It’s been a lesson for me – in its wake, the aftermath – the picking up of smashed pieces from the storm for days, weeks and yes, years afterwards.

Charnell reminded me this week that despite this unravelling, healing is still happening.  For me, it happens in those quiet moments when I feel just a little bit braver and reconnected to myself, my breath, my body, my voice, wants, needs and capacity to be here.  When I tune into my heart space.

For awhile on this jagged path forward from the wreckage, anger still blinds me.  The flames feel hot and comforting, like sheets I can tuck myself into, because rage makes so much sense.  Because my anger is powerful and justified.

I have a right to feel it, to know it, to let it breathe wisdom into me.  And that’s when the tears come.  Sadness, regret, and shame pour down my cheeks, damp like a cold night.  I still wrestle with the demons of confusion, wondering if it was my fault.

It wasn’t, of course.  But I still wonder.  There are many days where I wish so badly that I could reach back and delete those chapters, to let them go once and for all – and just be free.  But even through the fires, gentle sprinkles of ash remain.  I don’t have to avoid the pain.  I can’t anymore.

I can integrate the memories, sensations, and experiences. Walk toward them—one steady step at a time. I can take it all apart and see and feel that trauma does not have to overshadow me for the rest of my life. And I try to explain it to Poppy: “It may always be with us, yes—but it is not bigger than we are

Together, Poppy and I do what once seemed unimaginable—we make sense of it. We take responsibility for our own healing, drop by precious drop. We befriend ourselves in a brand new way. The waters of pain part, just for a moment, and something mysterious occurs. In subtle tones, in whispers, in the neurons that crackle with static electricity, and the certain shifting of something old.

Slowly, we are no longer so haunted. The past hurts, but it’s no longer a graveyard. Wounds fade, scars remain, and heck yeah, they’re tender—but they no longer define us. They no longer shape our days or limit our lives.

Healing happens in the unseen layers beneath our skin, beneath the muscle and fascia, beneath everything.  So it’s not just the thud of rock-bottom and fierce rising up, the often sought-after end result of thriving.

It’s every damn step we take along the way. Every breath, all the hard moments and vulnerability and uncertainty and tears combined with the surprise that we still have the capacity to love, to smile, to feel joy. Yes.

It’s finding safety again. It’s learning to sit with the really hard feelings like a warrior as they wash over us. It’s learning to trust another person again. It’s learning to trust ourselves again. It’s learning to trust life again. It’s knowing that we made it through hell. We made it.

And I won’t let that hell define the rest of my life.

I’ve learnt so much. I would have never wished for this learning. It was dark. It was gritty, the shadows clung to my skin, and danced on my bedroom walls. It was not glamorous at all. This healing is not found in the glaring shouts of the obvious.It lives in small cracks and openings, tiny flickers of light and crescent moons. And this is how it is with trauma. We don’t always forgive and we certainly don’t forget.

But somehow, I heal. We heal. In spite of it all, it happens. The wounds scab over and peel, revealing pink skin underneath that bursts through. A bud that sings of wholeness. Of how damn resilient I am.

And yes, it hurts. It’s not linear. It’s frustrating. It’s unfair. It’s uncomfortable. It’s so messy. There might still be tough days where I get triggered by floods of feelings and it seems like I am failing.

But healing is happening. Now to trust this. Know it.  And breathe it in, even on these shitty uncertain days.