Healing is hard.
I’m just going to put that out there.
It’s a statement that is as vague as it is clear and as relatable as it is mystifying. It’s a statement that is whatever you need it to be. Although I have silently muttered these words to myself on more occasions than I care to count, I didn’t know what owning it could do until someone said it aloud to me.
Let me tell you one thing I learned the hard way—you can’t really schedule “work through my shit” in your weekly planner. Healing is not task oriented; it’s an experience. And I was quite annoyed by that idea. I like having control. Control means safety. And if I am safe, I must have had control.
Unfortunately for those of us who’ve subscribed to that philosophy for much of our lives, the healing process doesn’t come with a plan. For so long, though, it was easy to allow difficult yet potentially transformative thoughts and feelings to rest just below the surface. That way it is safe. I am safe. I don’t have to deal with that particular thought or feeling until it is convenient for me—whenever that might be.
At the time of writing this, I am four weeks into a healing crisis that has affected many aspects of my life and health, and I see now that this control doesn’t work for me anymore. Trying to control my process in that way is counterproductive; the more I try to bottle it up for convenience, the less control I actually have for when it decides to come out. What I can control is how I respond to the healing process. Here are a few questions that are working for me:
These aren’t questions I have all of the answers to yet. As I begin to explore them though, I am finding safety in them, where once I could only feel safe in the control. I now feel safe in holding myself in a place of compassion. I feel safe when I own parts of who I am, parts of my journey, truths or uncomfortable thoughts or feelings. And I have even felt safety in letting go. I always end up being ok, better, happier or clearer on the other side.
As I learn to let go of control, I am becoming familiar with my own needs. I am learning to trust myself. It’s a work in progress, and it’s still hard, especially because my inquiring mind tries to make sense of it all—do some truths take more convincing or do some beliefs take more undoing? Maybe it’s both, or maybe it’s neither. Maybe it’s outside forces influencing me. Maybe it just is what it is.
The most profound change for me has been in the owning of my story. To “own” a thought, feeling, aspect or idea as part of my experience is to give it truth. It becomes real. It is another piece to my puzzle that allows me to understand my self and my situation so much more clearly. Acknowledging the truth allows me to begin to move through it rather than letting it fester in my subconscious and hopefully get to it later.
That ownership is saying “Yup. That really happened. I don’t like that it happened. That sort of thing doesn’t work for me anymore. Here is how I feel about it. Here are my boundaries with it.”
The best part: owning it then working through it is often followed by the letting go.
Now I view my process as an experience rather than a task. Tasks are monotonous. I want my healing journey to be an experience. Experiences are interesting, ever changing and rewarding—and, might I even say, fun.
Author: Jenny Bork is a licensed massage therapist who specializes in stress management, chronic pain and movement education. She is currently accepting new clients.