Staying When Things Get Hard

July 17, 2019

“Eyes up, eyes open.”

It’s something I’ve said to myself many times during my healing journey, especially when my trauma was triggered and my nervous system became totally overwhelmed.

“Eyes up, eyes open.”

For most of my life, looking down, away, or closing my eyes completely is how I stayed safe. It was the only option when I couldn’t leave a situation, when someone was being verbally or physically abusive, or I was being restrained from moving freely.

All I could do was dissociate.⁣
Leave my body to leave the experience.

There are still times when it’s hard for me to make eye contact, let alone keep my eyes open. It’s a common response when I don’t want to do something or I don’t want to be somewhere. When things are scary and hard. When I’m pushing my edges to heal. And so I repeat this mantra to myself… sometime silently, sometimes out loud (much to the confusion of those around me):

“Eyes up, eyes open.”

Which really just means…

Stay here.⁣
Stay present.⁣
Stay engaged.⁣
Stay in your body.⁣
Stay with your breath.⁣
Stay with the experience.⁣
Stay connected to yourself.⁣
Stay steady in your truth.


Staying isn’t about tolerating the intolerable, not even close. It’s about learning to stand up for yourself and to have your own back. To speak your truth and take up more space. To feel your feelings, even when they’re difficult and especially when you think they might consume you. To be fully engaged with everything life throws your way, even if it’s heartbreakingly hard. Even if you need to physically remove yourself, stay present to it all.

Eyes up, eyes open my friend.

You are strong enough to be here for all of life’s experiences. The good and the bad, the beautiful and the tragic, the losses and the wins, the magic and the madness.


I’m sharing more about how this is showing up in my life and relationships right now over in in the private Call of the Void™ group, along with some questions to dig deeper into what it means to stay, and what that looks like for you right now. Join us!

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