I recently attended The Bridge Retreat hosted by Donna Lancaster and Gabi Krueger. At some point earlier in the year, and after hearing others talk about retreats, I had the urge to attend one myself. Apart from anything else this year has been a revealing one, one that has added another layer to the difficulties that I’ve been experiencing over the past 6+ years. From unsuccessfully trying to start a family with my husband, the breakdown of my marriage to constantly being called a bully at work which then lead me to having an identify crisis in 2018. During these times I was grateful for the good stuff in my life as these were the things that I could cling on to, like my connection and work for Gateway Women, that gave me so my joy and kept my grounded however I still found myself feeling more and more misunderstood. I was getting lost in other people’s opinions of me and found myself wondering, “who am I?” I’d hear the attributes that others would attach to ‘someone being a nice person’, ones that they didn’t necessarily attach to me (especially as a female manager or even a black female manager) and I found myself having to cling on to the truth, for myself, that I am a nice person no matter what others said knowing that I was just a different version of myself depending on the person I was around or the situation I was in – which I guess lead me to feel misunderstood, lost and confused.
On Christmas Eve I turn 50 and felt like this was the time for me to get back in touch with me. Pre Covid I had planned to be on my own on a beach somewhere exotic, that then changed to signing up for the residential Bridge Retreat in December, yep after looking into it and talking to Gabi, I felt that The Bridge would be what I was looking for. It was what I needed to get back to me and reconcile these feelings that I was battling with. Covid again changed those plans and the residential retreat moved on-line and instead of December I did it this month.
So November the 20th to 22nd became my 6 days of healing.
I entered into therapy 3 years ago at the breakdown of my marriage, which helped me to process a lot of my anger and grief I had at the time. Being on The Bridge I realised that all the work I had done over the years was through my head. I could already see how much I feel my way through situations and how empathic I’ve become however as much as I was feeling through my body I was processing through my head, from the neck up as Donna would say. I was disconnected. The Bridge helped me to reconcile my head with my body, to listen to my body and to process through my body – body shaking is such a wonderful tool.
The retreat gave me a place to switch off from my life, to stop and to hear. It gave me a place to be seen, heard and accepted. I had the honour of being witnessed and had the honour of being a witnessing others. I went on The Bridge feeling confused, misunderstood and unaccepted. I crossed the Bridge realising that I already know who I am I was just too afraid to be her because of other people’s opinions. For the first time I held my wounded child and gave her the love that she’d been longing for all this time. For the first time I could truly accept and love me. The Bridge gives us the opportunity to see and face the deficiencies that hold us back and in Donna’s words “The Bridge loves people into their healing” and “gives us our life force back”. I can’t say what tomorrow will being, what turning 50 or even what 2021 will bring for me but what I do know is that, thanks to Donna and Gabi, The Bridge has given me the gift of wanting to live the best version of me.