I have always been on a journey towards peace and spaciousness. Peace of mind and the space to feel, breathe, and simply be. And so, I ended up in Bonaire. Here, peace and spaciousness abound.
You might think the story ends here, that I found the place and achieved my goal. I had hoped that moving to such a location would grant me the tranquility I had longed for. But it didn’t. It wasn’t the place; it was me. No matter where you go, you carry yourself, and that which needs to be heard and felt will not disappear until you allow it.
Now I understand what my body was telling me when I first set foot on this island. I now know that this is the place where I must heal. Surrender to the wind, scream your lungs out, dive into the sea naked. Do whatever it takes to shed the burdens you carry.
And that’s what I am doing. I am healing. Helen heals. In Dutch, Helen means healing.
I was named after Helen Shapiro. My mother always said that if she had a daughter, she would name her Helen. Yet, it was not her first daughter, but her second, who received that name. It was the child she didn’t really want, the one she struggled to accept and didn’t like to be seen with. The child with the birthmark.
I don’t blame her; I have come to understand her story and know that she never intended to harm me. She, too, was a victim. However, that start had a tremendous impact on my life. I never felt welcomed or safe as a child, and I began adapting and compensating at a very young age. “If I do well and behave, maybe Mom will be proud,” “If I have surgery, Mom will be happy,” “If I don’t complain, it will be easier for Mom.” Love was conditional, and I had to do something to earn it.
I started working with hand puppets to reach children like my younger self, to engage with them on a different level, and to provide them with a friend who gives them hope and helps them find anchors to navigate until they can stand on their own. This led to my “babble method” and the “PuppetCoachApproach.”
My trauma still impacts my life, especially because standing up for myself, setting healthy boundaries, and looking at myself with compassion and unconditional love were not ingrained in me. Along the way to peace and spaciousness, I encountered myself, Helen, who still had some healing to do.
In the past few months, while cycling or walking in the early morning, a seed began to sprout. I know I have something precious in my hands, and my approach can make a significant difference for many children currently in distress. I want to do something. If there is enough interest, after the summer break, I will start a short Zoom course for therapists and professionals who are seeking ways to strengthen their bond with a child and help the child express themselves more. And, of course, a hand puppet will be the tool. If you are interested, please let me know, and I will send you more information.
Till the next blog.