Pain to Power: Post-Traumatic Growth

By Fatima Lee Garsi
On December 11th, we held the first session in our Deep Health Speaker Series – and wow, what a tremendously rewarding time. It’s not easy convincing people to get together to casually unload their deepest traumas. 
Preparing for this event was perhaps the most challenging thing I have done in years. 
There are the logistics of event planning that always require intense commitment and  planning: establishing meaningful sponsorships, promoting the event, investing in and acquiring equipment, arranging catering, programming a meaningful itinerary, developing original content, research and prep for our guest speaker Hollay and the list goes on…
But despite the intensity of all the background preparation, nothing was as challenging as the deep personal work I had to do in order to get to the nucleus of our event topic. As the “Wellness Expert” I wanted to be honest and genuine – that meant I had to be honest about my deepest wounds and vulnerabilities and how they still continued to have an effect on me. I dedicated time to digging into the root of my own relationship with my body and my identity and that took a toll. It’s deep work and it’s uncomfortable. Acknowledging your trauma and understanding how it impacts you…but after trauma, you can grow…a lot! Post-traumatic growth is real thing.
I am most pleased with the workbook that Shoilee, our wonderful and extremely patient editor, assisted me greatly with. 
This booklet is for people who are interested in personal and community development – those who want to make a meaningful impact through a better understanding of their personal experiences. It can help you align your pain with purpose and use your past traumas as a catalyst for change and healing. 
Here it is FREE for you to view and use. We look forward to you taking the time to reflect on this provocative content. 

Pain to Power Workbook – Click here!

Although the event was a “doozy” on me personally, I have to share that the movement of emotions was priceless. 
Hollay was incredibly candid about her experiences of living with OCD, alcoholism, and eating disorders in a way that made everyone else feel like they too could open up and share things about themselves without feeling like it was too big or too much. It was moving to see attendees share their own experiences with complex family dynamics and trauma. There were meaningful and genuine connections being made. There was an acknowledgment of communal and personal growth. 
The discussions that arose from this event were a catalyst for me. I reached out to my mom – I knew this was something I needed to do to truly confront my pain. She came to visit me and I cried openly with her about things that I would normally repress and probably never share. 
I also sent messages and communicated with other family members. These were people I had felt pain and disappointment with in the past. I needed to express this directly to them. I was so accustomed to repressing these feelings because of culture. It also feels easier to ignore the wound than to move through it.
I’ll be very open and say that I haven’t grieved this much since I was a teenager. I have most definitely calloused my heart over the years – or used other coping mechanisms for the sake of survival.  I experienced post-traumatic growth, but also just a whole bunch of repressed hurt. 
I believe being in a stable place in my life  was essential for me to really let myself sink into to the truth of some deep wounds…and let go of them. 
“Letting go” also comes with the price of managing the way people will feel about some of my wounds, but it’s a necessary step. 
In the heart of my “pain” nucleus was my family. I believe this is very common, particularly for those of us with intersecting identities – especially if you happen to be GAY and are from a conservative culture. 
Although communicating with my mother and my family won’t remove the forever pain, at least I won’t feel numbness and powerlessness as I did before.  Expressing myself openly and honestly with my mother is a step forward to a new and more genuine connection. For that, I’m so grateful for the chaos that I put myself through for this event. 
From Pain to Power – this couldn’t be any more honest.