What does healing mean to me?

It means having the bravery to choose myself and my well-being over anything else, again and again and again. In a society that socialises women to see ourselves first as extensions of others (daughter of ___, wife of ___, representative of the Muslim community etc) and second as individuals, it is so difficult to prioritise our own needs. To do so required me to unlearn internalised sexism, shed unhealthy relationships, re-define my worth. It's an intensely personal journey but also one that is aided by the realisation that so many women are on similar journeys. In Penawar, I met amazing women who have been so generous in sharing their honest experiences. Our struggles, though not identical, had the same echoes of frustration and injustice, of despair doing daily battle with hope. It is odd to feel so safe among strangers, when I usually have to feel guarded with many family members and friends. The feeling of safety stemmed from the knowledge that everyone in the sharing circle came with the intent of validating each other. What a relief it is to not have to prove that your pain is real. To say "I am hurting" and have others believe you instantly and completely. It is powerful. I had no idea how powerful until I was part of Penawar.

"You are not alone" was an abstract concept to me until I was face-to-face with women who proved the adage to be true.

To me, healing is choosing myself and surrounding myself with people who assure me that yes, I am worth it.