I first wrote this back when I was on vacation in Sedona with my family. It was a much needed getaway for us and certainly represents the “light” side of healing – lots of relaxation, hiking, time spent in nature, good food, etc. I’m grateful for this. But there’s another side to healing that no one talks about.
Consider this line from a new movie coming out this summer titled Beatriz at Dinner starring Selma Hayak and John Lithgow. Selma is a Hispanic massage therapist and Reiki master and John Lithgow is playing the role of a filthy rich white man who is showing off pictures of his most recent exotic hunting expedition. Selma sees the picture of the slain animal, throws the phone at him and yells…
“You think killing is hard? Try healing. You can break something in two seconds and it can take forever to heal.”
Obviously, this movie is on my must see list.
This quote moved me because healing is so misunderstood.
The technical definition of healing is “the process of making or becoming sound or healthy again.”
That’s not easy. You aren’t a car that can get fixed at the body shop and come out all new and shiny. You can’t pop a pharmaceutical pill, make the symptom go away and just carry on with your life like everything is great.
Healing is the work of the soul. It involves giving up things you once loved. Maybe things that once defined you. It involves appropriate anger, anxiety, and sadness. It involves embracing days when you just don’t think you can get out of bed to brush your teeth.
When many people think of healing, they envision happy, tan, skinny, young people. Pretty people drinking green drinks in between yoga class and massage, and laughing with their friends. Nothing wrong with smoothies and self-care, but these things do not depict the ugly reality of dealing with yourself and trusting your process.
Healing asks that you cry. Even sob, on a regular basis.
Healing asks that you go in to a fit of rage every now and then.
Healing asks that you sleep. Sleep. And sleep some more. Because healing is exhausting.
Healing asks that you find new friends.
Healing might ask you to find a new job or even career.
Healing asks that you eat new and different foods that may not be readily available.
Healing asks you to be assertive in restaurants. You may be the only person at the table who asks the waiter questions about the menu, like, “Do you have blue corn tortillas? Because those aren’t genetically modified, you know.”
Healing asks you to get help. Here’s the paradox: no one gets anywhere on their own and yet, you’re the only one who can do the work. It’s not about setting the appointment with your holistic health practitioner; it’s actually about showing up for the appointment and going home and doing what he/she told you to do.
Healing asks that you set limits on yourself. Our culture tells us that you can be and do anything. It’s all such bullshit. At the expense of what? Your health? And your relationships? No one can have it all with out paying a serious price.
Healing asks that you grab the bull by the horns and let go – simultaneously. Yep, that’s healing – the ultimate conundrum.
Healing asks that you spend a lot of time in the water – as much as you can. The water has a way of washing things away. Healing knows that.
Healing asks you to forgive yourself. We are always doing the best we can with what we’ve got. Healing knows that, too.
Healing asks you to forgo the drugs in our food supply. No more sugar, caffeine or alcohol for you. These coping mechanisms just won’t work anymore. You know you’re on the right track when pain of suppression becomes more significant than the pain of expression.
Healing asks that you do a thousand inconvenient things. Healing doesn’t care what you think or what you had planned for the day. Healing is ruthless and asks you to be the same way in return.
Healing asks you to embrace the pain of a fever when your bones, skin, and hair ache and you’re wondering how that’s even possible, and you think, “Am I dying?” And you are. Healing asks you to die symbolic deaths and that you don’t eliminate the pain with Tylenol or Ibuprofen.
Healing asks you to like (or at least get over) the nasty, nasty taste of an herb.
Healing asks you to stop acting like you have everything figured out. Healing is here to tell us over and over and over again that we don’t know shit.
Healing asks you to say fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Motherfucker. FUCK! Because healing is hard and saying fuck helps.
Healing asks you to be confident AND humble.
Healing asks that you believe in the unseen. You don’t know who you are becoming or where you are going.
Healing asks that you embrace uncertainty. You must have faith…because sometimes miracles occur in an instant, and at other times a person does everything just the right way and absolutely nothing happens.
So why do it? Why heal? Why take the chance?
Because even in all the pain and sacrifice, healing is worth it. Healing gives life meaning and that’s what we yearn for. Healing connects us to Spirit in ways that few things can.
And of course, there are intermittent breaks when you feel really, really good. Early on in the healing process, when this happens, you want to hit the pause button: can’t I just live here? Forever? But then you realize you can’t, this level of joy isn’t sustainable. It’s just something you get the privilege to touch. And you don’t know how long it will last before your body decides that you’re ready to dive down into another layer because it has a strength it never had before.
Healing isn’t a straight line. It’s a spiral. And climbing that spiral staircase, while stepping sideways and backwards, takes some serious fortitude and faith.
And I’m sharing these thoughts with you because I believe that you can do it.
Heal in peace, my friends.
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