I would like to kick this off by making it common knowledge that I do not consider myself a perfect product of emotional health & wellness (as if that exists?). Healing isn’t a destination or a finish line, in my opinion, but instead an intense period of time spent getting to know yourself. Life as we know it is a constant rhythm of being broken and being healed. It is my belief that we will never be in a place, so long as we live, where healing is irrelevant. Whether we have to recover from a brief disagreement, a financial mishap or a catastrophic life event, the need for recovery and rejuvenation of our mind and heart from these things will always exist. My hope is this post will give a heaping dose of reality to someone stumbling around in the dark with the idea of being “healed” so let’s get to it, shall we?
1. Don’t take advice on healing from an amateur. Please seek out help from a professional who can properly equip you throughout this process. The stigma around professional counsel on behalf of our mental and emotional health has crippled our society from becoming whole. Don’t let this stigma stop you from pursuing a therapist that is a right fit for your personality & your story. If you belong to a faith community, THE CHURCH SHOULD NOT SERVE AS YOUR SOLE SOURCE OF MENTAL & EMOTIONAL HEALTH. They are not equipped to do so no matter how many airs they put on. I’m looking at you, 12 step programs like “Celebrate Recovery” & “Elevate Awakening”. These group therapy sessions are facilitated by your peers, nothing more. Please please do not rely on these avenues as professional aid in getting you where you’d like to be.
2. Take ownership of your feelings-they teach you what’s important to you. What I mean by that is, my anger and sadness taught me what my soul wasn’t willing to be passive or accepting of. What an amazing teacher! Our built-in response to tragedy has the ability to reveal to us what we value. For me, at the onset of my grief, it was truth & authenticity. When those two things were being perverted in my life it brought out a relentless side of me. What I have realized is how much value I place on those things and I have continued to learn that injustice, racism & manipulation have all earned a place in the category of things I refuse to lay down and take blindly. I am thankful for my emotions & the ability they have to teach & bring empathy into play for myself (yes myself) & others when something we advocate for is being polluted.
3. Grieve how you need to grieve. This experience is unique to you and will be a part of your story, not any one else’s. Make it a story you can live with in harmony. My grief came in the form of going to battle. I needed to fight it out. In order to appease some of my own pain, I had to go to war on behalf of my grief. This isn’t the case for everyone but it was an outlet for me. As a result, & directly related to my comment above, there are certain battles that I have to live with and I am not proud of how I fought all of them but they are a part of my story now. Now I have to live my life in the present being okay with how I chose to deal with my grief. Mindfulness & respect for your future self would be a great value to keep in mind at the climax of your grief.
4. If you hurt others in your process, humbly take inventory, apologize if need be, & repair what you feel has potential to be salvaged. NOTHING IS PERMANENT. I hate the idea that would suggest once something is over it is over for good. I refuse that completely. I have always stood in the space of belief that ANYTHING, & I do mean anything, can be reconciled if two people wish it so. I love to see a good reunion, it overwhelms my heart. It does take two though. If you find yourself compelled to reconcile, do it. If it isn’t reciprocated, you have the complete peace of mind and heart in knowing you performed extraordinarily as a human being & that is a victory.
5. Your grief & healing process is not for anyone else’s entertainment. You owe it to yourself to have solitude. You do not owe anyone any piece of you that falls outside something you feel inclined to offer. What comes to mind with this one is the song by Pink that says, “I’m not here for your entertainment, you don’t really wanna mess with me tonight. Just stop and take a second, I was fine before you walked into my life”. This one is incredibly close to my heart. Hear me. What I went through was extremely public, I felt like I owed every person who reached out to me a response. I spent hours every day (for months) responding to inquiries & facilitating conversations I did not have the capacity mentally or emotionally to be enduring. It prolonged my grief and stole what little energy I had. I wish I could go back and protect and take care of myself more in those moments. We have to understand we have the authority to be silent. We have the authority to dismiss things we don’t feel we have the capacity for. There will be people who insert themselves just for the sake of being involved. Tread lightly with these people, you may very well wind up taking care of them instead of taking care of yourself.
6. NO ONE IS GOING TO HEAL YOU & this one is important. This is something you have to do for yourself & people can serve as a detour or distraction. People have the ability to be extraordinarily generous, kind, & loving. These are all beautiful experiences that can help our hearts come into a place of vulnerability, so when I say no one is going to heal you I do not mean people are not a powerful source of comfort in times of tragedy. What I mean is, don’t dive into other people abandoning ship on yourself & the work you have cut out between you and you alone. We humans have a tendency to fall deeply into other people. Putting all your time and energy into someone else doesn’t exclude you from inevitably coming face to face with yourself & your grief again. Let’s deal with it head on so the relationships we develop going forward can be full of integrity.
7. Forgiveness, forgiveness is a tricky son of a bitch. (Forgive me for my heinous mouth, I considered leaving that verbiage out but it was my initial thought & it stays) Tricky as forgiveness may be, don’t ever EVER lose sight of the fact that forgiveness belongs to you and is to be issued by you when you feel you have arrived at a place to offer it. We will not allow forgiveness to be demanded of us or taken from us. Say this with me, “We will not allow forgiveness to be demanded of or taken from us.” There is a time & place for forgiveness & sometimes it is just not that time or that place & that is OKAY. Is it important to evolve into a place where we can let go of the hold grudges have on us… absolutely, but sometimes that is for a later time. People (Christians in particular) like to try to convince you you’re out of line spiritually and emotionally for not offering forgiveness on their timeline but it’s all bullshit. Don’t buy into it. Please. For the sake of the healing underway in your heart & mind, block those voices out and don’t let them take root. The journey of forgives belongs to you & only you and is to be executed when you feel ready. I personally would rival the demands for immediate and absolute forgiveness with the idea that people like this (those who demand you “walk in forgiveness” & offer an immediate pardon towards someone who has immediately and directly harmed you) should consider how far detached from reality they have become. When I shared with my therapist what was expected of me in Christian circles by way of immediate forgiveness & “believing the best when the worst was displayed,” it was the only moment in our journey together where she was unable to contain her own emotions. Her response revealed to me how severely unhealthy their behavior was in their condemnation of me for not offering up my forgiveness when they expected it.
I know this post is lengthy, & I am grateful for your time, this is important to me. I want to end this post on the topic of forgiveness. I want to drive into your heart how much I understand you & am with you if you do not feel ready to forgive someone of an offense. I am still not in a place where I am ready to forgive because of the sensitivity of time surrounding my hurts. I feel as if offering forgiveness at this time would give the impression that I condone the behaviors executed by the people who hurt me and I can openly confess my rejection of that idea. Again, this is an okay place to be if that is where you are too. My forgiveness belongs to me, just as yours belongs to you. We will get there, & it won’t matter if we shout it from a mountain top or wake up one morning with the quiet internal recognition that we have forgiven those who have harmed us. Not being ready to forgive does not cripple you or deem you as having a deficiency in happiness or good things. It doesn’t make you a monster or disqualify you from experiencing a full life. One of my deepest regrets from this year is found in time lost, time spent condemning myself because of other people’s projections of what my recovery & forgiveness should look like. I carried guilt and shame for far too long (& unnecessarily) & I don’t want this for you. Learn to shed those harmful internal thoughts before you decide to tackle forgiving others, after all, you deserve your own forgiveness friends!
I love y’all, whoever & wherever, I have love for you & I stand with you wherever you find yourself today. Thank you for investing your time into this post.