Today has been COMPOST DAY.
Finally, I got to a job that has been waiting for a while. Today the various planets aligned:- the weather was dry; my energy level and inclination were primed and yesterday’s computer-heavy day required an outside day today; AND the bees that had taken up residence have finally moved on!
So, I moved compost from my (‘dalek’) bins into the blue broken paddling pool that I bought years ago for my dog. He hated it, he was all about real water – lakes, streams, sea, ponds… not small plastic apple-shaped ridiculousness. Well, I love a good recycle. It makes for the best compost turning container.
And as is my way, amid the physical effort of turning the layers with my gardening fork, watching and chatting to the worms, picking out the sticks that would take the next decade to decompose, there was a lot of awe and wonder.
Awe + Wonder
I am in awe that the ‘rubbish’, the left overs, the peelings and clippings and cuttings of life can, given the right environment and balance, evolve into black gold…
That the very bits that could so easily be thrown out to fill up landfill, can so easily be kept and save me oodles of ££ not needing to buy compost each year.
And my other ponderings were around the metaphor of it all.
I pondered about the importance of composting the things of life we would otherwise wish to just throw away. The experiences we wish we could discard, disown, distance our very selves from.
All those things stay with us, and whether we like it or not, they affect us. Especially if we think we have put them behind us, got over them, and are OK now… the chances are, if we haven’t allowed them to settle, to be turned over gently, respectfully, to allow the mess and the impact of it to spill out into a safe container of someone else’s presence… then we are most likely not as ‘over it’ as we thought.
The tough stuff of life impacts our nervous system. It’s no surprise – the thing that we were created with to help us keep ourselves safe, and respond accordingly when we are not, never turned off. It has been witness to it all. All of it. And the surprise comes often to those who don’t realise that our incredible nervous system can get stuck. If we never completed the full process with an event, we never did our composting, then our nervous system is still holding on to it somewhere in our muscles, our breathing, our behaviour, and yes, deep in our subconscious. However old we are, our survival response can so easily become our normal… if we try to by-pass the composting part.
The Most Important Work of All
If you are a parent or work 1:1 with a child in any capacity, then this is really important.
- If you are a school staff member this is really important.
- If you are SLT, or a Head this is super important.
- If you are a therapist working with children this is requisite.
- If you are a Children’s Guardian this is really important.
- If you are a social worker around children, this is fundamentally important.
It can be really nice to hide ourselves away in the business of children’s lives when all along we are still running away from the reality and impact of our own. Avoidance. Denial.
So my invitation is to get composting. Get a quality container… a sound, trauma recovery equipped therapist. Get with a trained and qualified professional who truly understands how your brain has changed. Work together with someone who is trained and knowledgeable on how your body has been impacted all these years and what it will take to allow your nervous system to get ‘unstuck’. Get, or maybe…prioritize… Make time to make it happen.
Because when we have taken the time, made the effort (and my body right now, knows the composting work that went on today absolutely was effort!) and turned the decomposing, smelly, I’d-rather-not-have-to-go-near-that-again’ off-cuts of our life into beautiful black gold, they don’t smell any more. They are not icky to touch. We can hold them. Own them. Integrate them. The pain doesn’t crumple us like before. Instead of running away from, distancing ourselves from the memories of it, we now find our selves resourced in a whole new way.
A store of good compost is the gardener’s richest treasure. If we want to do anything, grow anything in our life, doing it with our own, well-processed compost, sets us up well for future events. Our healed experiences become part of our wisdom. Our processing in the presence of another equips us for safer relationships to come. Our courage and commitment to our recovery strengthens us. Our body actually becomes stronger when the things that caused stored stress are re-processed, re-formatted and flow is restored again to our system. We become a more stable, grounded, resourced, understanding and insightful part of the future. And if we are around children… they are way more likely to sense us as safe to them. If we choose to be around hurting children, then the amount of our own composting we have done/continue to do, means our very body and our essence is a beacon of authentic hope to theirs. A promise. We can become a light in the darkness…