Thoughts From This Therapist: Taking Back Holidays Through Spirituality
NOTE: The works in this series will always be the opinion of the writer (me, Rebecca). Therapy and healing is not a one-size-fits-all box, so keep that in mind when reading. Everything in this series will come from my experiences both as a therapist and patient. I hope it gives you insight into different perspectives, and gives me a place to share thoughts on topics I feel are important. Enjoy!
NOTE: This post mentions and briefly talks about childhood abuse and trauma. Although it doesn’t go into very much detail and is overall positive, these topics can still be difficult or triggering, so don’t read it if that feels like too much for you.
Today I would like to speak on how spirituality has helped me heal from some of my own traumas and allowed me to take back control, not only of activities that I enjoy, but also of days I used to love. I think one of the things we do not talk about enough is how our traumatic experiences can take the joy out of things we truly love, because it causes us too much pain due to the associations created with and by trauma.
As a child I loved Halloween because it was a day where I finally got to feel like I could be myself. I could be weird and different and Goth and no one questioned my weirdness. Yet, I also dreaded it because it meant more time with an abusive parent and seeing abusive relatives, while the other abusive parent was always absent (work was always more important). So as an adult, there has always been this conflict inside of me as to whether I loved or hated Halloween.
But then I found my spirituality and I began studying Paganism. Something I’ve long known about but kept on the back burner because spirituality, too, was hard for me due to my past. Yet this time I didn’t let it stay on the back burner. As part of my healing, I jumped in headfirst and have not looked back. Samhain (pronunciation: sah-win) has been reclaimed as my favorite holiday. Samhain starts the evening of October 31st, the same day as Halloween, and ends the evening of November 1st. I am so thankful that I can take the power of this holiday back.
Through my spirituality (and therapy) I have been able not only to find healing but also a purpose again. In American culture, Halloween is a day to dress up and be something/someone else and get candy or party. Sounds great, right? Sure, but Samhain is about the cycle of life and death. It is believed to be the day that the veil between the realms is the thinnest. And beyond that it is a day where we honor and celebrate those who have passed on (much like the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos), and we celebrate and recognize the wonderful gift that life is.
Samhain to me is a great reminder that all life matters and should be celebrated. I also love the food and find that cooking on the holidays brings me so much joy. I enjoy learning about the history as well, along with all the rituals that are available. The best part for me is that there is no right or wrong way to celebrate; it is very personal but you can also make it social by joining other Pagans (or just friends) in rituals and celebrations.
For me, being able to find spirituality again has allowed me to feel the joy that I remember feeling as a small child. I can enjoy the holiday because I am not focusing on the trauma and negative memories of the past. Rather, I get to focus on the new memories that I am creating and being able to just be present in the moment.
I’ve also found that I am able to help others shift their perspective of holidays as well to focus on their now and not their past. I am able to have conversations with others, sharing my story and helping them work through their own feelings of the holidays. And the best part is that we get to brainstorm together ways in which we can find enjoyment and create new memories that replace the old ones.
Do you have more questions about Samhain, or holidays in general? Suggestions for yummy recipes? We’d love to hear from you! Let us know by leaving a comment below or tagging us on social media (@llctherapeutic on Twitter and @therapeutichealingjourney on Instagram.)