Somewhere in the last few weeks, as if there wasn’t enough going on with me, my body and brain remembered another layer to my trauma. I was in therapy. We were working through all the many emotions coursing through me these days – including my current sleep challenges and the fear that kicks up – and a realization hit me.

Let’s just say that it makes sense that I sometimes have trouble sleeping and that I can be in fear.

It kicked up calmly, and I calmly investigated it. I said to myself (and my therapist), “No wonder I can at times have trouble relaxing enough at night. No wonder I’m afraid.”

To which she replied, “Yes, and it’s okay to relax.”

That’s what I’ve been reminding myself over and over (and over). It’s okay to relax. It might not have been safe when I was a kid. I might not have been safe when I was a kid. But I am safe now, and it’s okay to relax. Even when it feels like it isn’t.

I remind myself of this at night. I remind myself of this during the day. I remind myself of this as often as I need to. I (you know this part) put my hand on my heart, feel my feet on the ground, take a deep breath, notice that right here and right now I am fine and safe, and I let myself relax.

If necessary, I repeat the process and let myself relax again and more.

I know it is a privilege to be safe. I know it is a gift to be fine. Even as I recover from my chemo, and I’m still a bit slow in my body and mind, other than that, I am fine. Even as I feel the fears that I won’t stay fine and I face the way a cancer diagnosis changes your relationship with yourself and life – perhaps forever – I am, right here and right now – fine.

So I remind myself that it’s okay to relax. I don’t have to be on hyperalert. I don’t have to be in fear. I can feel the feelings and let them move through me, and I can relax.

In case you, like me, need to hear this multiple times, really, really, really…it’s okay to relax.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

Photo by Alyssa Sieb on nappy

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