It’s been two weeks since I uncovered some deep childhood trauma during a routine therapy session. I didn’t even know it was there until my god-sent-angel therapist dug it out of me (thank goodness for therapists, am I right?). It brought forth difficult emotions and uncomfortable memories (that I remembered more clearly than I realized). But it also brought forth a new level of clarity, self-realization and self-compassion. So, although I am still struggling with processing these emotions, it has been a pivotal moment in my healing journey.
I know I’m not the only one out there who has a complicated relationship with healing. And I know I’m not the only one out there who is working on healing. Realistically, each of us has something we need to heal from; whether it be physical, mental and/or emotional. My hope for you is that you’re actively working on healing from whatever it is that has hurt you. And I hope that the following words – which are real, true thoughts that have been clouding my mind – will provide you with comfort in knowing you are not the only one who has had these thoughts or experienced these emotions.
I say “working on healing” as if it’s something you just add to your “To-Do” list to check off later. The truth is that healing is hard work. It takes dedication. It takes vulnerability and endless amounts of self-reflection. It requires us to acknowledge dark, difficult emotions that we may have buried or ignored. It also requires us to re-train our brains on how to process emotions and triggers.
Our brains are hard workers, constantly working overtime – even when we don’t want them to. Our brains work so hard that they manage to convince us of things that aren’t even true. Throughout my healing journey, the one thing my brain has continued to get stuck on is this concept of “progress.” I constantly compare my journey to others’ or set unrealistic goals for myself, getting disappointed when I don’t reach them. I’ve convinced myself that having a bad day meant I was going backwards. And I’ve expected myself to get to a place where I was suddenly healed. In other words, my brain has been working overtime. And it needs a break. Through self-reflection, journaling and therapy, I’ve found clarity in a lot of things that I now know to be true.
First off, healing is not linear. There is no start date and end date to healing. You do not cross a finish line. You do not pass “Go” and collect $200. You will not wake up one day and be “healed.” And, although this sounds like a negative thing, it isn’t. It means we are constantly growing and evolving. As we grow, we are able to view our trauma from new angles. We learn new lessons. We find new levels of closure. The healing becomes deeper and more sustaining. We are continuously releasing layers upon layers of trauma and negativity, which opens us to light and love the deeper we go. And if that doesn’t make you want to say “sign me up,” I don’t know what will.
Throughout your journey, know that these two things can be true at the same time: you can be healed and you can still be healing. It’s easy to think that “Ok, if there’s no end date to healing then it means I’ll never be healed.” I felt this for years (and still need this reminder, which is why I’m writing it now). It felt like I was constantly doing the work of healing, but for what? To never get to the place where I’d be healed? But that’s not how it works. The truth is, we can be healed and still continue to work on healing in deeper, more sustaining ways. Yes, it’s a constant process, but it’s a process that becomes more valuable the farther you go. It’s an act of self-love to dedicate yourself to this process. You are doing it for you.
Even when you have bad days, you won’t go backwards. On my bad days, my brain has managed to convince me that I’ve failed. That all the progress I’ve made is lost. But that’s the craziest thing about healing – you have to have the bad days in order to heal. The bad days propel us even further forward. Alex Elle said it best; “Healing might hurt more than the thing you’re healing from.”
You know what helps on the bad days? It helps – actually, it’s crucial – to acknowledge the progress you’ve made. In letting my brain focus on the negatives, I’ve ignored all the progress I’ve made. Because the truth is, you’ve made progress. Even if you’re not quite where you want to be. Even if you’re having a bad day. Even if it might not feel like it, there is still progress.
And here’s the best, most mind-blowing thing about the whole thing: If you’re dedicated to your healing, it’s impossible to go backwards. If you’re dedicated to your healing, that is progress in itself. That is the first step. That is the most important step. That is the one and only thing you need to focus on in order to give yourself what you need.
I hope these truths resonate with you. I hope they propel you to move forward in your own journey. I hope you know you are not alone and I hope you know you are worth it.