"I remember having joy as a small child, shrieking with laughter as I swung higher and higher until I felt myself rise up off the swing at the very top, before gliding back down, hair blown forward into my face. I don’t remember losing my joy. I just remember looking into the empty space where it had been, wracking my brain to remember what it felt like. I remember the day it came back, wrapping me in it’s arms like an old friend.
That was three years ago, almost.
I was sitting in a music therapy class in a treatment center in Memphis, listening to the music therapist sing, and I swear I felt a warm and fuzzy feeling wash over me. I always rolled my eyes when someone described a feeling that way until I had it myself. I sat up a little straighter in my chair and closed my eyes to listen to the lyrics. When the class was over, I went back to my room and sat down and wrote a song. I sang it the next day for the music therapist, who helped me put it to music.
I had not created in years. I had stopped writing. I had stopped painting. I had stopped singing. But something in me clicked that day. I realized my joy had begun to come back.
Over the next three years, I would start a blog. I would write a memoir about my life. I would replace my paint sets that had all dried up. I keep a notebook of song lyrics that I have written. I worship in church and genuinely enjoy listening to music. I’m able to express myself again, even in the bad days, when joy feels far away. It’s still there, distant, not disappeared.
I lived most of my life without joy. I can’t remember ever feeling it past the days of shrieking with laughter on the swing set in my backyard. And that was almost 20 years ago. Without joy, a light in me had gone out. Being trafficked had stolen a very basic emotion from me, joy. Even the smallest of children feel joy, and I had lost mine.
Beginning to heal has helped me reignite that fire, and I owe that to treatment that helped me know healing was possible for me. All across the world, men, women, and children are relearning what it is like to feel joy. For me, joy is in creating. For others, it can be countless other things.
In the upcoming series, Joy Comes in the Morning, survivors talk about rediscovering joy, about the things that bring it to them, and what it means to them to feel it. Join us in experiencing our joy!" - HD