Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about healing. What does transformative healing look like within myself? What does it look like to heal relationships with others?
About a year ago, I twisted my ankle and fell down a few stairs. For whatever reason, my hands didn’t catch the fall and I landed face-first on a rock, busting my lip.
I went to the hospital to make sure I didn’t need stitches on the inside of my mouth. I didn’t. In this instance, healing looked like taking it easy for a few weeks. Resting my ankle and waiting for the swelling in my face to go down.
My swollen & bruised lip as it healed ✨
Physical healing is often tangible, visible. It’s easy to see progress. “It’s getting better,” I tell myself.
But not all healing is like this. Sometimes it’s one step forward, five steps back. Sometimes it’s circular. Or takes the shape of a rollercoaster. And maybe, in some instances, “healing” isn’t entirely possible. Maybe the pain is chronic and there is no cure. In that case, all you can do is learn to manage the pain.
If you can’t tell, I’ve been going to therapy. I’ve been before, but this time feels different. I’m committed. I got lucky and found a therapist that I connect with, one that also takes my insurance.
I’ve often heard people talk about doing this kind of healing. The mental and emotional kind. They refer to it as “slowing down and taking time to address deep wounds” or some flavor of that. They refer to it as “messy.”
I never understood what any of this meant. Until now.
The other day I had a dream about someone I hadn’t thought about in a long time. I woke up feeling annoyed, because I didn’t want to be thinking about this person, someone I cared about but I had hurt nonetheless. I felt shame. Instead of pushing those feelings away, I let myself feel them. I stood in the shower, brushed my teeth, and thought about him and my selfishness and my spite. Looking back, that short-lived relationship seems pivotal in everything that unfolded after. From it grew my desire for men’s attention until it became self-destructive. An unhealthy obsession.
For one morning, for about 45 minutes, I let myself process what it felt like being a teenage girl.
My therapist calls this “getting reacquainted with our past selves.” (She is certain that an even younger version of myself will appear next.)
Miraculously, after this quiet morning, I felt a little more steady. Clear-headed. I knew the exact next step to take. I wrote up an apology to the person who had been on my mind and sent it. Within the hour, he replied with a message that was heartfelt and reassuring. He accepted my apology.
I felt relieved, yes. Like I could finally let go. This might be one of the most transformative human experiences. Forgiveness and healing.
I’m telling you this to show you what healing has looked like for me, at least in one small instance. In other areas, the healing doesn’t produce such clarity or opportunity for closure. To address the messier parts, I meditate. I listen to healing music. I send loving breaths to the people on my mind. I ask the universe to hold me.
I let myself feel raw and open.
If all of this sounds very “woo woo” to you, I understand. Listening to your dreams and meditating sounds weird. It feels weird to me too. I mean, heck, I’m a software engineer! I spend eight hours a day thinking in terms of logical problem-solving and systems architecture.
But I’m not a computer. I’m human. Logically, I understand my emotions, but logic doesn’t help me feel them. At least not in a healthy or sustainable way.
I’m at the point in my life where I am willing to admit that being a self-aware adult involves some form of spiritual practice. Meditation and making art allow me to connect with my most authentic self, with my friends, my community, nature, and the cosmos. And as a result, I’m more patient, less reactive. I’m able to see the big-picture.
For you maybe it’s prayer, writing, walking, collecting crystals, tarot, parenting, coaching. I’m pretty sure anything can be a spiritual practice if it is done with intention and love.
Thank you for joining me on this path of non-linear healing. Healing is a practice, and like most things worth doing, there will be good days and bad. What matters is that we keep showing up.