Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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Circles of Hope — We must share

Photography by Mary Hone

It is 2am and I can’t sleep.

I don’t know if I’m still buzzed from the amazingness that was Circles of Hope yesterday, or if I’m just so emotionally exhausted even sleep can’t find space to turn up.

It was an amazing day.

Full house.

Incredible speakers and a team that made the entire thing look flawless and effortless.

Beyond the day however, is the emotional space created in sharing this journey with my eldest daughter. Of sitting with her and talking about the story of the past, our fears and sorrows and how to tell the story so that it not only inspires but reminds people that they are not alone.

Last night, I received an email from one of the attendees. They hadn’t planned on coming to the event, but a change in their schedule gave them some free time.

Being a parent myself and going through some personal challenges, I was incredibly moved. I left feeling a healing sensation after hearing you two speak. I knew I needed to attend, if only for a portion, today and the words of you and your daughter were that reason.
Their words reaffirm my belief in why it is so important to share our stories. They remind us that this journey we’re on is our collective human story. We are not alone, we are part of our shared human condition.
Being alone is a silent place. For me, believing I was alone in my fear kept me silent. My silence kept me trapped.
Yesterday, as Alexis and I stood at the front of the room and shared the words we’d worked so hard to create together to tell this story that is both so ugly and beautiful, I felt encompassed by something greater than just the two of us telling a story to the audience. I felt safe.
It was stunning moment — to feel safe in our vulnerability. To feel safe in our exposing of the wounds that once cut so deep I didn’t want to live.
To heal, to move beyond the trauma of the past, we must share our stories.
Yesterday, my eldest daughter and I shared our story. It is not the story of our lives. It is a story about a time in our lives when we were lost.
But as Alexis said in her closing remarks,

I too want to give my son the world. And though it may be a world in which I won’t always be able to protect him –  from others, from my mistakes, or from himself, I will teach him, as my mother has taught me, that together we can stand in the circle, no matter how broken, and know that love is the home we can always come back to.

______________________
And I want to give a shout out to the amazing Mary Hone and her photography and beautiful heart. On Monday, after reading my blog, she emailed to ask if she could the final phrase of my part of our presentation in a photograph.
What she sent me is stunning. It not only captures the sentiment of the words, its beauty creates a sense of wonder and awe, peace and hope.
Thank you Mary.  What a beautiful gift to have my words resonate within you so strongly you create something beautiful in their expression through your art in a way that says so much more than just the words.
My heart is overflowing with gratitude — and you are one of its many blessings.

______________________

(and yes, I did schedule this to post at a more decent, and humane, hour of the morning!  And as always happens when I write it out, I can now go to bed and go to sleep)

Namaste

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Daily Intention: The space between our hearts

As my eldest daughter and I work on our presentation for Circles of Hope on Wednesday, I am constantly in awe of her courage, her insight and wisdom.

Sometimes, her insights and mine differ.

In those times especially, I must remember to breathe deeply into the space between our hearts so that I can see the beauty in her truth and honour its presence.

Sometimes, rather than take a breath, I want to defend against.

Defending against creates opposition. It widens the gap.

My intention is to always move closer into intimacy. To do that, I must let go of defending against and step into being present without fear that our different perspectives are greater than the love that binds us.

I am grateful for my daughters courage and honesty. Through her wisdom, I am able to heal those broken places that were not visible until I felt myself wanting to defend my position and hold onto my view of the past.

As I say in my part of the presentation, we cannot change the past, but through love, we can heal the future.

Namaste.

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If you are in Calgary and are interested in joining us at Circles of Hope on Wednesday, November 8th –  there are still some tickets available — Circles of Hope


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Me Too. Take Two.

 

I had a note from someone who read my Me Too post on Wednesday. She wrote to tell me that what I had written had brought her to her knees. “I cried and cried,” they wrote. “And when the tears were done, I realized I was so done with dragging myself through the pain of what he’d done. I didn’t need to carry the shame and blame another inch. They were bringing me down. I needed to set myself free so I could get up.”

Someone else wrote to ask me when was I going to stop writing about that journey.  “Why do women keep having to dredge up how badly men treated them?” they asked.

My eldest daughter and I are working on our presentation for Circles of Hope on November 8. We are presenting the mother/daughter journey of our experience of having gone through an abusive relationship, of having lost everything, only to find ourselves on the other side of shame, blame, fear, anger, sadness, sorrow, bitterness and regret. On the other side is only Love.

As we talk and write together about ‘those days’, about the immediate aftermath and the journey through healing, I am constantly reminding myself to breathe.

That was then. This is now.

There is no part of that story that can hurt me today, because the only place that story lives is within memory. And memories can’t hurt me, unless I hold onto them and claim their shadow as my truth. Yet, when I hear my daughter speak of her experiences during those dark days, there are moments when I want to hide from the truth. To defend against what happened. At times, I can feel like such a victim of my own past, I want to hold up a sign for all the world to see and know the truth, “I am a Bad Mother. I am a Bad. Bad. Mother.”

And I breathe. That was then. This is now.

Telling that story, together, is not easy. When I tell the story on my own, I control the narrative. I can paint the picture of my brokenness how I want it to appear.

Yet, telling this story together is so powerful. Freeing. Loving.

I cannot change my daughters’ journey through those dark days. I can change how I respond to her telling of those events.

I can let go of blaming and shaming myself and hold space for her voice to be heard, to be known and claimed. Her story is not my story, and though we went through that journey together, we went through it from different angles. And in those angles, the light broke and refracted differently for each of us.

Telling the story together allows ‘the whole’ of what happened to come into view so that we can share, not just the journey into darkness, but our shared experiences of growing through it in to Love today.

Years ago, I fell into the arms of an abuser. It almost killed me.

It also hurt my daughters. It broke their hearts. Caused them enormous pain and angst.

In telling this story together, we are standing for truth. For hope. For love.

When I step out from the shadow of wanting to take away her experience and replace it with something more palatable, less harsh, I know and see and live in the truth. I am not a Bad Mother. I am a mother doing her best to be real, to be strong, to live her life with integrity, grace, kindness and above all, in Love.

When I look at the amazing women both my daughters have grown into being, I know that, regardless of and because of, what happened then, in the now today, we are very blessed.

As I said to my daughter the other night as we talked about our presentation, “The gift is that we are as strong as we are today, because of what we went through together.”

Why is it important we tell our stories, again and again, from every angle?

Because our stories are real, and in their reality and our sharing, together we grow stronger.

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