Adverse Childhood Experiences and the path towards healing. You are not alone.
I share my trials, my victories, and my stories with you in hopes that if any of you were ever touched by childhood abuse or neglect, as I was, you will see yourselves in my experiences and feel strengthened to voice what you had not been able to before. I hope we can learn together why we respond to life through a particular lens, and that there are ways to climb out of this prison of pain, silence, and shame.
My name is Bess Hilpert

Friends, Connection

See the Person your Friends see in you…

This past week, I have been thinking about connection. About how important connection is and the gift of long-lasting connection. This past weekend was my fiftieth high school reunion. Can you imagine? Where I could not attend in person, I was blessed with connection to some of these beautiful women who knew me in what seems another lifetime. Yet, the years dissolved as we shared who we are now and how we got here. The strings of connection held me.

I have shared shame researcher and author Brene Brown’s description of connection as “the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement; and they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”

This is how I felt as the years melted in the glow of rekindled relationships. Fifty years was but a heartbeat between friends.

I also thought about connection considering what I wrote last week: “I share this victory with you to illustrate the depth of disconnectedness trauma wounds cause. I want you to understand that when our sense of connection with the world is extinguished, sometimes it is very hard to see through the darkness. One’s sense of self no longer exists. Learning to become aware of when we are in these states of disconnectedness is a victory.” But somehow despite our becoming aware of being stuck in our trauma wound, we sometimes choose to cling to that state of disconnectedness.

Even though I am fully aware I am responding to the world from my trauma wound, I have often found myself not wanting to face going through the trial. Not wanting to feel all that I will need to feel to get to the other side. I think that if I choose not to face my trial (drive on the interstate, go swim, face an angry work colleague, go to that party, ask a much-needed question), I believe I am safe. Safe because I do not have to go through the black sea of unknowingness or navigate deep scary emotions. But am I really safer?

What I really am is the same scared little girl of old, lost in a mountain of false beliefs about myself and others. Trauma Bess is stuck in time.

I can’t do this alone!

Human connection is the sense of closeness and belongingness a person experiences when having supportive relationships with those around us. They help us feel the depths of ourselves without judgement and lead us to the safety on the other side. They can see the shore when we cannot.

This human connection is called friendship. Others might call them angels, or Jesus, or grace.

A friend guides our path, picks us up off the bathroom floor, sees the soul we cannot see, and holds us tight when we cannot move. They encourage us to go, to move, to try, to explore, to ask, to trust. They sit with you on the ledge as you jump, and they hold you when you land.

These friends are everywhere in my life. They are everywhere in your life.

They walk with me. They ask how I am. They tell me “Good job.” They accept me and all my messiness. They bring me handmade soap. They pray for me. They support my children. They ask about my husband. They were there for me as my mother lay dying. They do not judge if I drink one extra glass of wine. They bake me fresh homemade Easter bread. They share books with me. They encourage me when I cannot see what is in front of me. They patiently look into my eyes. They help me remember to smile. They sew with my grandchild. They call me. They hold me up. They knit scarves for me to keep me warm. They save my life. They have been there from childhood. They walked with me through my high school years. They were there with me as I flew in a plane chasing a dream. They are part of my history, a part of me, and they love me.

And there are people there for you who love you without judgement, without expectations. They are there loving you fully. They show up for you in unexpected ways and all ways.

I am grateful for all of those in my life who have held me and continue to hold me. Those from fifty years ago and those from yesterday.

This week, when we find ourselves on the scary precipice of unknowing, let us extend our hand out, ask for help, acknowledge our fears and trust in the love of the hand that reaches back. I challenge you to see the person your friends see in you.

Let us add “friends” to our ever-expanding toolbox. 😊

Until next time friends.

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