Healing is personal.
Unfortunately, we approach it the way we have been taught to approach everything else by society.
As children, we were told that there is a destination out there, and reaching it is our ultimate goal. We have heard that this journey, as well as our growth, is linear.
So, as we grow up, we assume that we are at Point A, a place that’s imperfect; and if we work hard, we will reach Point B, a place that’s perfect. Wish life worked this way!
In reality, there are no straight lines in the long run. If our goal is to be healthy, our journey doesn’t end once we are successful at this. We don’t get to eat junk food every day and be sedentary just because we have now achieved our goal—and we all know what will happen if we start doing this. We have to do what we did to become healthy, day in and day out. In other words, everything is a journey, a life-long process, including healing.
As someone who was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder and depression, I can never say that I have achieved my goal of “conquering” these two demons and healed completely. Yes, I am better equipped to deal with them, thanks to therapy and a lot of inner work. However, my healing is not a straight line. It’s a host of messy lines.
Ask anyone struggling with mental health issues and they may have the same story. Taking care of our mental health is a life-long process. There is no destination. Sometimes, we feel that we are back to square one. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t made progress, it just means that we are telling ourselves society’s stories of linearity and destinations. Similarly, if we are a feminist, our journey is not a straight line. In fact, it is a coming together of many lines that cannot be plotted in linear ways—intersectionality, anyone?
A better way of depicting healing and everything else is a circle. A circle beautifully shows that we are always back to the same point—no matter how much we have achieved.
Written three novels? You still have to stare at a blank page or screen and write a new one. Exercised for three hours, today? Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean you won’t have to exercise in the future—you are back to the same point. A circle captures the repetition in life. No amount of healing changes the fact that we still have to face the old triggers and rise up to the new challenges that will require us to heal, once again. To say that a journey of healing is complete is incorrect because it assumes that you will never be vulnerable or hurt again.
As long as we are living, pain will be an integral part of life; and as long as there is pain, there will be healing.
And to heal, we cannot follow the same stories that society taught us—which requires courage because it’s not a straight line. There is no destination.