Dancers moved in bare feet around the fire, pulling their energy from the hypnotic drumming of the circle. Like minded individuals who gain strength and centering, through nature, gathered to drum, dance, spin, and regroup in this quiet wooded spot on the west coast of Florida. This is where I am grounded. This is where I find peace and solace in a world that is oftentimes stressful and uncertain. Here, I can be the person I have always wanted to be without judgment or a need to impress anyone. I can absorb all that nature has to offer and refocus on my continuous healing. Here, I am free.
Earlier in this series, I shared that it took multiple steps to come from the woman in the “Just me” photo, to a woman who was determined to reinvent her outlook on life. It took therapy, strong friendships, and the physical outlet of biking to get me moving in the right direction. But something was missing. There was always a part of me that felt I didn’t belong. I was still trying very hard to be the person I believed I was supposed to be, and I was not complete. I was a free spirit and my soul was not getting the love it needed to thrive.
Now, as I sit and write, the sun is peaking through the Florida pines as a cool breeze blows through the camp. Around me, tents dot this small wooded area that serves as my home this weekend. My boyfriend plays guitar while a long-time festival friend plays one of his hand-made flutes. I am at peace. This is something I didn’t used to have in my life. This connection with nature and “hippidome” were buried deep beneath a belief that this sort of life was frowned upon. It simply was not an acceptable way for me to live my life.
My husband found my free spirit childish and quickly put an end to it. There was no room for such irresponsible behavior. There was too much to do in the home, and in our life, to be wasting time listening to music, camping, or simply being carefree. My love of nature, camping, travel, and music were not something we had time for. My long skirts, dislike of makeup, and unkempt hair were more items to be corrected than something to be celebrated. As these things were suffocated, so was my true self. I was placed in a box that signified who I was supposed to be and not who I was.
As part of my healing—on my journey to coming back to me—I have learned to appreciate these aspects of myself that he discarded. It took some time for me to be comfortable in my own skin, as his voice was always in my head telling me that who I was, as a person, was not acceptable. It took several years of slowly integrating pieces of myself back into my life. As I allowed myself to move more towards who I am drawn to be, I met others whose beliefs and interests aligned with my own. This led to more growth, more comfort with myself, and much more happiness.
I have found this to be one of the most important aspects of my healing. When you are happy with who you are, you are free. Maybe you love music or nature, as I do, or perhaps you are into sports or travel. Maybe you simply want to read more, volunteer, teach, or be free to watch you favorite movie. Whatever it is that makes you tick, that provides you with that sense of belonging and peace, that is what you should be focused on. Finding your true self, in my opinion, is the pinnacle of experiencing your personal freedom. It may not come right away, but I believe it should be a goal for anyone healing from domestic violence.
It is a very important part of the journey to finding your “me.”