A Lesson Learned: Inquiries Into Healing

Despite the relatively quiet nature of our recent online presence, the growth of this project is breathtaking. In recent weeks, we’ve found support from Metro Magazine, begun the incredible process of planning our first gallery opening (it’s October 1st–save the date!), and received some tremendous kudos from some unbelievable sources. By and large, it’s been a period of overwhelming growth, and we’re as proud as ever to be working on this project.

We’ve also learned a thing or two about what we don’t know. For example, in a recent post elli wrote:

to whatever extent we do or don’t admit it, and forgive me for opening up an ages old and epic debate – men have an impact on how we feel about our own beauty and strength.”

And boy, did it ever open up an ages old and epic debate. One of the people who chimed in was a reader who wrote:

I sent my friend [name omitted] your web page before I even looked at it…. We’re both lesbians, and men don’t, in fact, have any impact on how we feel about our beauty and strength. Not our brothers or fathers, not the men who want to co-opt our sexuality for their pleasure, not the men who over and over say, “You’re not even a little attracted to me?” Your statement is true only for straight and some omnisexual women. Not us. We also both are a bit taken aback that the photos seem to be decapitated, without heads and faces. Are they all like that?”

It was a comment that caused both elli and I to pause for a bit. We’d certainly never meant to exclude anyone. It was simply that no lesbian women (or bisexual or transgendered, for that matter) had come forward to share their experiences with us. We cannot tell that story until someone helps us to do that. And though we assured our reader that the images on our site aren’t the final product (in fact, some of our models requested that we not share their faces online), she wasn’t able to find common ground with our project as a “lesbian living in a heteronormative patriarchal world”.

Our reader had a point. For all the common ground that survivors share, the healing process is as unique as the individual doing the healing. I began to wonder what we didn’t know about what it means to survive breast cancer, or any trauma for that matter. And to make sure we don’t limit the answers with our own filters, we’d like to open this forum up to you. In just one minute…

In my own life, nature has always directed me toward my most profound moments of healing. As a shutterbug, I tend to capture snapshots for future reference. Here are a few of my favorite lessons:

In a lush evergreen forest, a tiny shoot grew from a long-fallen log, and I learned that we all have the power to nourish the world that will live beyond us. At that moment, I promised I would live with this truth in mind.

On a rugged Pacific beach, I stumbled upon this informal work of art. On that gray day, I remembered how delicious it is to create; to harness one’s playfulness and use it to find magic. In my heart, I  thanked the anonymous artist, and vowed to pass their gift on to others.

As the storm rolled in, my instinct was to look to the clouds, dark and churning. The man who I love gasped. “Look at the way the sunlight catches the waves.” I learned that day that even on life’s most turbulent waters, a light is always shining. But to see it, one must look.

It was just last year, staring in to the depths of the Royal Gardens at Keukenhof, that I realized I was different from most, but not alone. For the first time, I felt beautiful.

And now it’s your turn. What does healing look like to you? Who helps you to heal? Does it come from within, or do you find it around you? Post your comment, or shoot us an email. Send us photos, or drawings, or writing that illustrates your process. Who or what helps you to find who you are in your purest form?

What is your process? How have you healed?

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