It’s amazing how lonely the road to healing can be. It’s incredible how you can be surrounded by family and friends who love you and still feel alone. Even those who may understand more fully what you’re going through, other trauma victims, victim advocates, counselors, etc, cannot enter fully into the healing process with you. That journey, the journey from brokenness to wholeness, and the decision to choose everyday to persevere in taking another step…those are yours alone. Don’t get me wrong, the role we play in each others’ lives is vital. We can be each others’ cheerleaders, encouragers, hand holders, comforters, listeners, “empowerers” and companions. It reminds me of The Lord of the Rings, a series in which I often find applicable imagery. When someone we know has been through something traumatic, they’ve been handed a different life than the one they thought they’d have. They suddenly find themselves thrust, unwilling, on a journey through the darkest depths, with little hope of making it through alive, let alone unscathed. They are forced to battle exterior and interior demons alike, all based on a promise of the light that will follow the darkness, a light they cannot presently see, a light that becomes more difficult to fathom which each passing day. Much like Tolkien’s Frodo. And yet, in the brilliance of his writing, Tolkien did not leave Frodo to make the journey alone, knowing that such a feat would prove both realistically and theoretically impossible. Instead, he gave him Sam, a character who emulates all the qualities one might hope for in a companion for life’s most difficult and darkest journeys. But, Tolkien makes an important distinction, in that, while Sam is vital to Frodo’s surviving the journey, he cannot make the journey FOR Frodo, only WITH him. Sam cannot carry the load or battle the demons, but he can be a necessary source of strength for Frodo. Whatever your journey, I pray you have a Sam by your side. Or if you find yourself someone’s Sam, know that they alone must walk the road to healing, but, by not walking away when it get’s hard, not making them feel guilty for it taking longer than you think it should, having no other agenda than accepting them as they are in that particular moment…simply remaining by their side, wherever they may be and for however long the journey takes, you ease the burden they carry and you make it that much easier for them to take the next step because they know that in fact they are not alone.