A little while ago, a wonderfully insightful friend stated that one thing they know for certain is that healing is hard.
I feel the need today to revisit that, in part because in all of the writing I’ve been doing about shifts and resourcing and perspective, I think that every once in a while it’s important to remember that this is hard. Maybe not all the time, but certainly sometimes. So today, selfishly, I’m going to take this opportunity to remind myself of all of the pieces of healing that need some reaffirming sometimes.
Healing is hard. It’s messy. It does not go as planned. It takes time, and patience, lots and lots of time and patience. It’s never really done. It involves revisiting old patterns – sometimes even reengaging in old patterns. It means asking for help – and then learning to accept help when it’s offered. It takes being kind to ourselves and gentle, and often that only comes after hearing the hurtful judgments we hurl at ourselves. Healing means sitting with things that are uncomfortable, sitting for as long as we can stand it to allow those uncomfortable pieces to be heard and seen. It often requires a shift in perspective that sometimes takes us being slammed over the head with before we learn to accept it.
It takes courage. It takes courage to sit quietly with oneself, to sit with those wounds we wish would heal. It takes courage to be introspective. It takes courage to be present with all of those parts of ourselves we wish we different. It takes courage to accept oneself exactly as you are – a piece that I feel is absolutely fundamental to healing. It takes courage to let go of behavior or thought patterns that feel so entrenched in who we are, yet are no longer serving us. It takes courage to sit with that empty space that is there in the moments after we let go, before the newness of who we are evolving into comes in.
It takes permission: to be messy, to check out, to check in, to connect, to take time, to take space, to ignore, to change your mind, to mend, to make repair, to give yourself a voice, to make mistake after mistake after mistake, to change your mind, again.
And at some point it comes to making peace with the fact that the work of healing is never really done. It is a process and as such, does not have an end point per se. Or perhaps I should say that the process of being human is never really done. It is entirely possible to heal old wounds and to have their presence in your life be through feeling the tensile strength that comes from scars, and learning to wear those scars, giving you an awareness of your own resilience. But perhaps the end result of wounds closing up is not really the point. The point is the versions of ourselves that we get to meet along the way.
Here’s the addendum to that statement, though. Healing is hard, but it happens. It does. It might not look the way your envisioned it, and it certainly might not happen has quickly as you want – but it does happen. Sometimes the healing is subtle: one day you move in a way that used to be painful and you realize that it’s not anymore (and maybe it hasn’t been for a while), and not only that but you don’t need to guard against that old pain, so your body begins to reorganize and you learn a new way of carrying yourself. Or things that used to trigger you suddenly don’t send you into a tailspin like they used to. And sometimes it’s not so subtle and you get to be fully present and embody your healing as it’s happening. And through that you get to feel just how capable you are, just how resilient and just how intelligent your system really is.
Healing an old physical wound often results in a greater range of motion, or more strength. Healing an emotional wound can bring us to depths of compassion and empathy, for ourselves and others, that we may not have previously accessed. Regardless of the wound, in healing, our capacity grows. It is hard, yes, but it happens. It’s happening all the time.