One of the most difficult aspects of healing is its non-linear nature. It ebbs, flows, eddies, swirls, and dances through our hearts, minds, bodies and spirits.
When we feel lost in dysregulation, addictive habits, or shame, it’s easy to panic or act harshly towards ourselves.
In these moments, we may feel desperate for a formula – where you do these three things, and voila! Healing is done. But when we try and follow a formula and it doesn’t work for us, we can sink into despair.
We may feel that there’s something wrong with us, or something wrong with life – that we’re broken.
I can remember the first time I felt that sense of being broken. It was my sophomore year in college, and I was caught in the chaos of bulimia. I had sunk into a depression that trailed me for the rest of my college years, and I felt damaged and shy.
I tucked myself away inside my shell in self protection – even though I also felt so lonely and alone.
And I was desperate for formulas, for something to fix me – and spent years and years and years searching.
As we journey through life – with its many ruptures and repairs, its joys and sorrows – it helps to remember that we are complex, multifaceted beings. Healing is not linear, and we are not machines.
There is not a formula that ‘works’ for all of us or that ‘works’ every time.
Rather, there is a vast spaciousness that holds each of our journeys, that cradles every breath, every ‘fall,’ and every step.
This spaciousness, this loving awareness, knows what we need. We access it when we get still, and quiet.
We access it when we trust our body, heart and psyche and how they are leading and guiding us. As my mentor Bonnie Badenoch says, “How do we know that something is ready for healing? Because it has arisen, and it’s here.”
It’s showing up in our breath, bodies, thoughts, feelings, and sensations – in a tightness in the body, a craving for food, a wave of fear, or anger of disgust – this is the life that is asking to be held, and that is asking for warm care.
We are glorious beings, with deep wells of capacity and resilience inside, with vast, spacious hearts. The heartbreak of trauma is how it separates us from this sense of ourselves.
It’s been my ongoing journey to reclaim that 18 year old who felt so damaged, to welcome her home, again and again and again. When I soften my belly, I can feel the privilege of this homecoming rather than the story of failure, shame, or punishment that can also arise in my nervous system.
I imagine you can feel both of these stories – wholeness and separation – in your body and heart, in your mind, in your nervous system.
The story of failure and shame is the story of trauma. It is the separation we feel from ourselves, each other, from life, and from Love, from Spirit.
And it is this story that we hold – not alone, but together, with each other – over and over, reclaiming our wholeness, over and over, over and over again.
The more I travel on my own path and witness the journeys of others, the more I understand how the healing journey itself holds us. Even when it looks wonky and sideways, there is a love containing, holding, loving and supporting us.
And the deeper I travel into those abandoned parts in my own being, the more commonality I sense and feel between all of us. We each carry a part of the world’s suffering, as a Sufi teaching says. None of us are immune.
It is so humbling and holy to be a human being. It is also an incredible honor.
The deeper we sink into this humility, the greater our resilience. For our identity does not rest in ‘getting life’ right, in preventing all our sorrow or trauma, but in the ground that holds it all.
And this ground, this is where we rest: not outside of our wholeness, but within it, holding, containing, healing all the furrows and branchings and separations, all the ruptures and repairs, all the guts and glory of our lives.
From that place, I bow to your journey, and to your noble beauty.