Yesterday marked 5 months of FREEDOM for Josh, Shane, Sarah and all of us who love them and devoted every cell of our beings to fight for their FREEDOM. I have held to my vow to only write the word 'FREEDOM' in capital letters to better represent its critical importance to life. It is an indescribable feeling to be marking months of FREEDOM rather than months of captivity. I wish we could have global celebrations to mark each of those months, as we had vigils, rallies and protests to mark the months and years of captivity. But I know that people around the world are celebrating each day of FREEDOM with us. And most importantly, I can celebrate those markers WITH Sarah, Shane and Josh. I'm still absorbing that - yesterday I texted Josh a 'Happy FREEDOM Anniversary' message. It took me the entire day to remember that I could do that. The FREEDOM to text, to communicate, is something I will never take for granted again.
The transition to FREEDOM is not an easy journey. We are all processing so much, feeling so much that we had to hold back in order to direct our focus and energy to our fight. One of the most frightening feelings I had after Sarah, Shane and Josh were freed was the uncertainty of what the next days, months and years would bring. The fear was partly due to growing accustomed to living with daily and hourly uncertainty for the 2 years and 2 months of their captivity. It was partly due to the dramatic shift in my identity that I anticipated - from a FREEDOM fighter to...I wasn't sure what. I longed to get back to parts of my life and myself that I had to neglect while fighting for Sarah, Shane and Josh's lives but I knew that I had been transformed. I knew that I needed to somehow integrate my traumatic and transforming experience into my life's journey, but I didn't know how best to do that.
Fortunately, my journey is unfolding organically with some hard work thrown in. The way in which I spent the 5 month anniversary is a good illustration of that. I spent the morning advising two political prisoner campaigns on organizing coordinated global actions, based on my Free the Hikers experience. I then went to a conference focused on addressing access to care for individuals living in Canada without health insurance. I brought a guest, who I met through the Free the Hikers campaign, to help expand his networks. It was wonderful to introduce him to long-time colleagues and friends as I reconnected with them post-Free the Hikers.
My worlds are colliding and merging into one land mass. There are still fissures and fractures in that land mass that I hope will mend in time to provide me with the solid ground I need to be my strongest self. I left the conference early for my weekly trauma therapy session, where I confronted and expressed some of the ongoing pain associated with Sarah, Shane and Josh's hostage-taking. While running some errands afterwards, a bright butterfly-covered scarf caught my eye. I wear it today to honour my ongoing transformation and to remind me that Spring is coming and with it hope for new growth sprouting from the merging ground of my former and transformed self.