When we break a bone, what we feel initially isn’t pain—it’s shock.
A moment in time changes something that was once one way into another way of being, and it takes a minute for our psyche to catch up. The moment we notice the difference, the pain begins. From there on, pain isn’t caused from the break, but from the healing process the break must go through in order for restoration to happen.
Emotional, mental, and spiritual healing work in the same way. True healing hurts and it’s not a hurt we can run from if we want restoration.
Outsiders think the healing journey is supposed to be something that immediately makes us “feel better.” Those of us who’ve walked the road of healing know it must get worse before it gets better, and impatience is not a virtue in this process.
The truth is, most of us will live a “half alive” life and then die, unhealed. Many of us erect walls around our hearts to protect ourselves from the pain of being alive. Many of us will breathe our last breath defending the walls we think are our safety, but truly are the prison that prevents us from tasting freedom.
To heal is to be brave; not because you’re stepping into action—but because you demonstrate surrender.
Healing happens when we get out of the way of it. It’s most certainly not a controllable force. To attempt to control it, means being in a state of resistance to it, and anyone whose healed anything knows healing only happens in a surrendered state.
This is the premise for why healing hurts. We seek control. Inevitably, the walls we’ve erected in pain will cause the same amount of pain as the reason for their erection, plus the confounded pain of living a life we’ve built around protecting that wall.
When you’re triggered, something is bumping into your wall. What we do is protect the wall by diverting the trigger, rather than demolishing the wall.
Healing is about surrendering to the demolition.
We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge and accept. Yet, most of us reject where we are, what we feel, who we are, and refuse to address the things we don’t know about ourselves. The work of healing is hard. It’s messy, dirty, often dark, and will provoke a ton of resistance from someone who wants to feel better now, more than they want a true long-term healing.
Here, at the crossroads, is where people quit.
Every single thing our mind, body, and heart has ever experienced—even the things that we pay no attention to—is processed and stored in every one of our trillion cells. Essentially, we’re a warehouse for past and present experiences that stay stuck inside of us until we reach a point in our evolution where our consciousness feels it is safe to integrate what our bodies already know.
Like bubbles under water, what’s been unconscious will surface to the top and be made conscious.
We’ll be asked to stare at our greatest fears, our most aggressive perpetrators, and our own perceptions right in the face without anywhere to hide. The things we’ve suppressed and attempted to hide will no longer be “asking” for our attention, they’ll be undeniably there, forcing us to answer to them.
In graduate school, the saying “the wounded healer, heals best” was like a badge of honor to my own unhealed parts at the time. Years later, as someone who’s graduated from a system where I watch unhealed person after unhealed person try to put together another unhealed person with their own broken parts, I disagree.
To be a healer is to heal thyself. Healing doesn’t come from any “body,” but from an opening that a good healer will pry open in her clients to give healing enough room without any walls, to fill.
But the bare-bones truth is: healing is grimy, messy, dirty, and any healer who tries to take away the grimy, messy, dirty, sh*tty parts of healing from us, who substitutes rainbows and unicorns where images of our dark parts present themselves, isn’t assisting in true healing. They’re denying the unhealed parts within themselves.
So no, it won’t feel better when your therapist, your partner, your Reiki practitioner, or surgeon is stirring up pain in you by poking at your walls, holding space for you to acknowledge that they’re there.
It won’t feel better when you take a sledgehammer to everything you’ve constructed to protect who you’ve been.
Like a snow globe, when you commit to healing, you’ll be shaken up in your entirety and it will feel uneasy, like everything that once kept you together is now falling apart. You’ll want to control where and when all of your pieces land. But healing happens when we step back far enough away to notice the beauty of the snow globe that’s shaken up, rather than identifying so much with each individual flake.
Someone on her journey said to me today, “No wonder my husband doesn’t do this work. It’s so hard.”
Yes, love, the work is hard to face, it’s hard to look at, it brings up things we’d rather keep hidden. And, it brings up things most people find unimportant. But we’ll come to recognize the simplicity and profundity of its importance.
So why would anyone partake in healing?
Well, while we can function with a broken bone for the rest of our lives, and build lives around tending to a new way of living because of the break, we can also notice the break, love the bone enough to want it back together, and withstand the pain for six weeks of healing, rather than avoiding the pain for a lifetime. That only brings about new and different versions of a deeper kind of pain—the pain of believing the bone wasn’t worthy or capable of healing in the first place.
You’re the bone. Your restoration depends on your deepening commitment to facing your pain head on for as long as it takes to get through it, because as much as you’re “over” it, the truth is, until you face it for real, you’re “under” it.
The other side of healing is a road far too few people will walk in this lifetime because to get there takes real work. Work to surrender, work to stop working, work to stop believing your thoughts, and work to stop erecting your walls.
It takes work to recognise you’re operating from fear, and it takes work to be brave enough to surrender. But, it’s the only work on the planet, in my opinion, that has a reward that doesn’t come with a cost greater than the time, money, and energy put into it.
On the other side of healing lies freedom.
Bonus: 5 Mindful Things to Do Each Morning.
Author: Stacey Hoch
Image: Tareck Raffoul
Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron