Using Anniversaries to Heal and Grow

Using Anniversaries to Heal and Grow

It fills me with gratitude to realize that this July marks 13 years that we’ve been relaxing, healing, and uplifting people at The Dragontree. Anniversaries are a thing I’ve given increasing attention to in the last decade or so – and not just because I’ve been married to someone who likes it when I remember ours.

Anniversaries come up with surprising frequency in my treatment room. Patients often tell me that the anniversary of an injury or other trauma brings a return of certain bodily sensations or a change in consciousness. They report that they can perceive the approaching anniversary of a loved one’s death because subtle environmental cues – the angle of the sun, the smell of the lilacs, the quiet of snowfall – trigger feelings and memories.

For me and Briana, this time of year brings memories of the crazy stress we went through before the opening of our Boulder store. In the fall of 2012, we were “preapproved” by our bank for a commercial loan to build a spa in our beloved mountain town. But due to many personnel changes at the bank and lots of mishandling of the loan process, we ended up on a rollercoaster that involved finding a building and constructing the spa, spending every dime we had (and many borrowed dimes, too), and finally, eight months into it, being notified by the bank that they weren’t going to fund it after all.  

The bank pulled out exactly three years ago. In the summer of 2013, while desperately seeking a way to prevent this fiasco from taking down The Dragontree completely, we routinely brought our daughter to drama camp and watched her performances of Cinderella and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. We hoped to maintain a sense of normalcy in our family life even as we wondered if we’d still be able to afford our house payments if this project fell through. There were times when I was watching adorable children fixing their costumes and fumbling their lines, but instead of feeling lighthearted about what was happening in front of me, I was freaking out about what was happening with our business.

As a consequence, that camp is linked to an experience of stress that cut a deep groove in my mind and body. My daughter still goes there, and a few weeks ago, when Briana and I were taking our seats for a rousing performance of The Sneetches, I realized it was the anniversary of that ordeal. The sights, smells, and sounds of that place were triggering a jittery feeling in my body. I mentioned it to my wife. “Me too,” she replied.

That anniversary was a good reminder to gauge how I’ve changed and healed since then, and to continue the healing process. A friend was telling me recently about the great relationship she has with her father, who happens to be deceased. She explained that she sees each anniversary of his death as a chance to revisit the terms of their relationship. I like that.

On the anniversary of our loan ordeal, I choose to continually rewrite the story – reminding myself that ultimately we came out of it unscathed – and to be grateful for all the good people and resources that helped us make it through. And on the anniversary of The Dragontree as a company, I’m choosing to recommit. We work well together.

I encourage you to try bringing more attention to the various anniversaries in your life – of anything that made a deep groove, whether positive, negative, or mixed – and in doing so, to notice how you’ve processed and integrated this experience over the years. There’s an opportunity to redefine the way you relate to this event, to renew your commitment, to learn, to be grateful, and to rewrite your story about what happened.

Thanks for sharing the past 13 years with us.

Be so well,

Dr. Peter Borten


1 Comment
  • jessamina
    Posted at 19:37h, 08 August Reply

    This is such a wise observation. In the realm of psychology and spiritual growth, it is necessary to check in when feeling unusual feelings of dread or anxiety. Is it an Anniversary? Brilliant.

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