Sometimes when my husband comes home from work, I cry.
Sounds awful, I know, but it’s always been that way. Every morning the calendar lists out what’s expected of me, all the work and all the responsibility and all the caring for the little ones. Mothers always end up being the keepers-of-all-the-things, don’t they? The appointments, the hurt feelings, the aches of growing up too fast and not fast enough, the secret hopes and fears- mothers hold them all.
Even those of us who aren’t mothers find ourselves caring deeply for our people. We look for ways to serve them and help them grow, to care for them in struggle- we seek to share the weight of their lives through connection and love.
And sometimes the weight of the day presses down hard and it touches the truly tender places leaving them rubbed raw and we suddenly realize we aren’t just carrying the weight of the day anymore- we’re also carrying the weight of past traumas and hurts that haven’t yet been heard. Steeling ourselves against feeling all the ways the not-enough has engulfed us. Not enough love or attention or presence when we’ve needed it to heal. Because how can we be enough and do enough when we just haven’t had enough?
My current read is The Heart of Trauma by Bonnie Badenoch. It’s a fascinating look at the power we have as people to heal one another through the simple act of presence. Loving, mindful, intentional, connective presence. Research shows that if we don’t have enough support to process a trauma when it occurs, our system becomes overwhelmed and the trauma embeds. Many things can become embedded trauma, even things that don’t necessarily appear to meet the news-worthy definition of a traumatic event. Ongoing lack of connection, not feeling accepted and loved during childhood, emotional neglect, and of course all types of abuse.
The fascinating thing about embedded trauma is that it’s just waiting for the right time and the right conditions, always peeking out from behind the curtains to see if it’s safe to come out yet. And safety is embodied in the presence of another person who’s willing to just be there. When a safe person arrives, our past hurts finally feel like they can come forth because they know they will be welcomed with love and care.
All the mysterious neurobiology of the universe that makes up the human mind says just as much about it’s Creator as it does about the created. A caring Designer who equipped His children to face a fallen world by drawing together and drawing on the strength He pours into each one- a strength that is limitless, boundless, and continuously recycling grace into glory.
And so sometimes when my husband walks in the door, I walk into his arms.Tears fall as I realize I don’t have to do it all alone because he is home and home is where I can heal. My system releases all that it’s been carrying because it’s safe now. The safety provided by the relationship enfolds me as he holds me and what’s not-enough quiets down as my needs are met.
Slowly taking back ground day by day, layering in love over loss and pain as dinner simmers on the stove and kids run around our legs. We all need a person who can embody the love of God for us. The kind, radically loving and accepting presence we can rest in.
We embody the body of Christ for the people we love. We reflect His love to those He loves. And we get to feel His love flowing into us through each other. He has designed us well.