I've been doing a lot of pondering around the subject of healing over the last few months. In the beginning, things were scribbled all over my journal pages, like: helpful rehab tips, ingredients I need to add to my smoothies, motivational quotes, modifications for yoga poses, how many times a week I should go to the sauna, reminders to give my scar some love, and the things I want to know about the person who used to take care of my new ligament. Basically I was in "don't worry, I've freaking got this covered, stay strong" mode.
Fast forward a month or so, and my scribbles started to change... there were just endless questions, like: What does healing really mean? How does it transpire? Where does it truly take place inside of us? Does physical healing run parallel or adjacent to emotional/mental healing? Can you really have one without the other? How do we uncover the places inside us that need healing? My started to shift to "am I going about this all wrong?, uncertainty, learning new things is freaking scary" mode.
Let me tell you, one of these modes tends to sit a lot better with the general public. Can you guess which one that is? When someone knows you've had surgery, and they ask how things are going, and you tell them "shit hurts, and it's scary," they start to get squeamish. They do their best of course, but the conversation usually comes to an end quickly. After some testing out of different ways to answer people, and sometimes trying to make them squeamish on purpose (if you are one of the people that saw me on a day I was choosing to be brutally honest, I apologize if I made you want to runaway, but thank you for being my ginnea pig!), I came to find that people really dig on the whole self-empowerment stuff. "I'm kicking this rehab thing's butt!" gets way more follow up banter from folks.
After my week of experimental responding with family/friends and strangers alike, it really started to bring up my biggest healing question so far:
Who is going to hold space for me while I go through this healing process?
Which brings me to my point of this collection of thoughts. Healing is made possible by connection. We are hardwired social beings; we have an innate drive toward companionship. I read somewhere that willingness to empathize with each other's emotions is what relieves our burdens. In other words, heals. In my experience it actually is a bit deeper than that... Healing occurs in emphatic moments, yes. However its not just because someone is empathizing with you; it is when you allow yourself to be seen, choose to put yourself out there in raw form, and you get that reflected back to you in the eyes of another. That is connection that heals.
Fun Fact: happiness research shows that the connection with close friends is the single most determinant of peace of mind.
So, if you are hardwired for companionship and you know how good real connection feels, how is that you get stuck in a pattern of suffering? Any painful experiences, in all sizes, shapes, and forms, of abuse, rejection, abandonment, and/or shaming leaves wounds that can last. These things create an understandable notion that it would be better to numb your emotional pain rather than risk making new connections. If you take an honest look at yourself, does this relate to you? If it does, my next question is this... How's that working out for you?
Brene Brown said, "when you numb your pain, you also numb your joy." That, my dear, is a cost that is too high to pay. You are worthy of connection and support. You are worthy and capable of deep healing. Step out from behind the walls you've built and show yourself to your loved ones; from there the world awaits.
I see you.
ps - In case you were curious, I did find my people. The ones that held, and continue to hold, space for my healing process. They provide me a loving space for me to dig, mend, and learn. The days when "shit hurts and it's scary" are fleeting.
Also, I can't begin to share my overwhelming gratitude for you. All of you, for your kind emails, cheering me on in social media with hearts and likes of support, and your sassy neediness to get me back to teaching. I cherish each of you that has crossed my path over the last two years of my teaching journey. Thank you.