Healing in a Kayak
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Dare to Dream

My daughter dreams big. She dreams not only of getting tickets to a Taylor Swift concert, but actually meeting the superstar and hanging out making cookies with her. She dreams of travelling abroad and meeting interesting people. She hopes to one day change the world so that no one is living without safe shelter. I feel honoured that she shares these things with me.

The other night she was doing just this when she suddenly asked me what I dreamt of as a kid. Before my brain caught up to my mouth I said , “You don’t dream when you live in survival mode.”

Never in my entire life had I ever really registered this consciously, so I was rather surprised at my own words. Like, who said that?? My calm statement just spontaneously emerged from the place of authenticity where I now live most of my life.

I know I don’t remember a lot of my childhood as a result of severe trauma, so I had to take a few moments to think about whether it was accurate. Perhaps I did have dreams but I just wasn’t remembering them. I didn’t contemplate for long though before I knew in my heart that what I’d said was absolutely true.

I didn’t dream as a kid. I didn’t fantasize about being the best ringette player in the world or being able to buy anything I wanted. I never wondered what life would be like in a different country or who my future spouse would be. I never thought about the future.

I was too busy trying to survive in an environment where nothing was safe. When a physical or emotional attack could be around every corner one does not have a lot of bandwidth left for fantasy. Our creativity cannot be unleashed when we are in constant fight or flight mode, and that is where I lived my entire childhood.

The enormity of all of this hit me hard between the eyes as I sat perched awkwardly on the side of my daughter’s bed. When I looked up, my daughter was looking at me with such empathy that I felt bad I had caused her pain with my no-filter mouth.

“That’s really sad Mommy,” she said. Yeah, it is kid. But painful as it is to realize how much was robbed from me in my childhood, the new emotionally mature(ing) me chose not to dwell in anger about it. Instead, my heart lightened as I realized the implications of my daughter being able to dream big. It means that I am a cycle breaker. If she has the safety she needs to let her mind run free about anything and everything then I figure I must be doing something right. And that matters a lot more to me than ruminating on a past I can’t change.

So I will celebrate my children’s dreams for as long as they are willing to share them with me. I will let myself process the sadness that comes with this particular revelation but I know it can’t hurt me anymore. I am truly free.

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