As the veteran of years and years of self-help books, therapy, self-improvement workshops, inspirational seminars,feel-good Facebook memes, blogs posts about my challenges and solutions, and soul-baring conversations with friends about difficult times in our lives, at some point I found myself no longer needing to explore my pain.
Like most of us, my path has been a winding one, with lots of criticism, joy, rejection, love, adventures, dark nights of the soul, suffering, rejuvenating, and learning and growing. A recent two years were probably the hardest of all: walking away from an abusive relationship, suffering with severe depression and some symptoms of PTSD as a result, and then losing my professional job of 13 years as a result of that.
How does one heal from losing almost everything in their life that they built?
For at least one solid year, I was embroiled in my hurt, betrayal, self-doubt, self-criticism, and depression. I hated my ex, hated my ex-managers, and what’s worse, hated myself. I woke up every morning with my head filled with rage at those who had wronged me. I had long, angry conversations with myself and with the spirits about how I didn’t deserve to be treated this way, but also: what had I done wrong to deserve to be treated this way?
As a pretty resilient person, eventually, as I rebuilt my life and career and took on new challenges that excited me and filled me with purpose again, I found those rage-filled thoughts fading. Slowly, they quieted from a scream to a whisper.
Percolating in my mind as I went about my day were explorations of how I had contributed to the those challenging moments, and as I understood more about my own part in things, the voices quieted even more.
I’m not going to lie and pretend the voices aren’t there sometimes still, especially when I see any of the people involved in those situations, which I have a few times in the last two years.
But now I spend more of my time building my future than I do contemplating my past. And if I’m not healed completely yet, I’m well on the path to healing.
Part of healing, to me, is making better decisions. So much of our pain revolves around making the same mistakes over and over because we haven’t learned our lessons yet. But once we’ve learned them, than we can make more mindful choices.
Another part of healing is no longer beating up on ourselves for making those mistakes. Considering them in the past; no longer feeling like we’re bad people for having had the reactions we had to our challenges. Forgiving ourselves.
And yet another is having some understanding of why those others may have acted the way they did. This one is complicated for me, because I still feel those others were wrong. But I can also recognize that I acted badly or not as skillfully as I could have in some instances, and I can see where those actions contributed to an unhealthy dynamic.
The ultimate goal in healing is to be free of the weight of the past. However we get there, the freedom is worth the journey. Once we’re free of the past, we can move joyfully into a new future and remake ourselves.
How about you? How do you know if you're healed?
What Is Joy?
Can life really be joyful, even when hard things happen? Maybe not on the surface, but below our pain and fear, below the judgment of ourselves and others, there's a kernel that's an inherent and unstoppable desire to live; to see what happens next. At JATHT, we'll explore life, love, joy, and sorrow and hopefully learn something in the process. Welcome!