Learning how to tune in, and not check out, is vital to healing. Whether it be a loss, trauma, a negative experience or just a bad day, your own willingness to heal, learn and evolve is the most potent drug on the market.
I still have a lot to learn on this journey of healing, but I’ve learned a lot along the way. I have to remind myself often that “Every tool is a weapon, if you hold it right”. So for my sake and for those on this journey to heal with me, I’m going to put my own arsenal on display, as a reminder to myself how far I’ve come, and in hopes of helping others on the path they too are walking.
Our minds come with dead bolts, that can only be unlocked once we feel safe. This is grace, but it doesn’t always feel that way. On a day when you feel “put together”, you can fall apart. At unexplainable times of simple happiness, darkness can flood from your pores. It’s frustrating, but no accident. It is not a sign that you are broken or weak. It’s confirmation that you are stronger than you were yesterday. Only when the mind feels you can handle what is behind the locked door, will it allow you to experience it.
Distraction from ourselves is the false art of healing. But it is what so many of us use as a defense mechanism. Whether it be with work, kids, chores, substances or taking on the responsibility of solving everyone else’s problems. We are conditioned to use any and everything to keep our inner most truths and triggers on mute. There is power and control in coasting, but there is liberation in awareness. It just hurts more. It’s hard to be quiet and sometimes impossible to be still. Many crave both, but once gifted with it, will shut down as if allergic to it. There is protection in busyness, because a quiet mind leaves one vulnerable to self reflection. By tuning out what we are really feeling, we are denying the opportunity to heal. Tune In!
Stigma is a powerful defense against self care. It’s the hand that feeds shame. No one is immune to it’s crushing depth, even those trained to combat it. The stigma (others seeing you as living in the past, wanting attention, not strong enough, etc) that keeps us from speaking up and reaching out, is one more hurdle to fight. The good news is there is a powerful tool one can use to fight this fight. It’s your voice. You may have to go searching for it, and it may shake a little (or a lot) at first. When you first begin to speak your truths, the stigma you feel will sting like dirt on an open wound. It’s worth it. The more you speak about what was done to you, empowerment will begin to override the pain. You will find strength in your vulnerability, if you work at sharpening the tool you already own.
There is a specific alley of healing that most walk down. I call it check-out alley. To some, myself included, intoxication is key to checking out. It’s a way to create a different version of yourself. A version where the “real” you leads, and the “broken” you gets to take the back seat for once. At the tale end of a buzz, greed and despair become one. Self medicating leaves one with a vacancy of pain. A temporary relief disguised as bliss. The ease of life and laughter flowing through my viens when I check out is a survivors false paradise. But false is exactly what it is. If we don’t figure out a way to get to that state of mind, without first walking through check-out alley, healing will never be an option. Knowing this is the easy part, avoiding that avenue is something I am still working on.
Triggers are the windows to the pieces of us that still need healing. A trigger can be a smell, song, touch, scene in a movie, hearing a certain name…really anything that your mind associates with personal experiences. When we are triggered, our brains go into “loop” mode. Our body re-experiences the feelings, both emotionally and physically, of a moment in our past. These are moments worth inspecting. The only way to deactivate the trigger is to ask ourselves, why did that moment make me feel like I want to cry, punch something, run away, freeze, etc? Healing begins when we are able to recognize those moments and answer they whys.
Healing is a mind and body experience. I’ve worked in the field of mental health for almost ten years. In the trenches, always hands on with the population I am serving. I read countless charts, observe a vast array of dysfunctional behaviors and thought processes, empathically experience peoples stories and see many highs and lows on the path of recovery. I have witnessed the body as the mind’s canvas. People wear their stories and traumas. I observe, both personally and in my line of work, how making the connection to patterns of behaviors and thoughts can lead to physical healing. If we don’t accept that what happened to us affects the way we act and feel, the negative energies we harvest will manifest as illness. Often times unexplainably. There are consequences when we ignore the signs. No differently than having “just one more drink”, when we are having a good time. If we ignore that little voice and our already unsteady feet, we will get sick. It’s that simple, but never easy.
Reaching out, will lift you up. As much as we want to “do it on our own”, and prove to ourselves that we are stronger than what is holding us down, we can’t. I’ve fallen face first on the pavement many times trying to convince myself that I can succeed on this journey alone. There needs to be equal parts insight and willingness to learn from others. Find your tribe and use them. The people in your life, whether it be professionals, family, friends or someone you just met, all have something unique to offer you on your journey. Connection to those that share your experience, or are vested in seeing you smile are vital pieces to getting through the maze. Use them.
We are all faced with unfortunate experiences in our lives, whether they are horrific acts against us, unfortunate events that happen to us or because of poor decisions we or someone else makes. Regardless of the root of the pain, we need to be able to use the tools we all possess to move forward. It’s not a matter of living in the past, but rather being vulnerable enough to investigate our past, to improve our future.
15 thoughts on “What I Know for Sure About the Healing Journey.”
Excellent post. You make a lot of very valid points. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks, Vic. This took a long time to write because I really had to look deep in to what I know…just forget during the day to day struggle to get through. I’m so glad to hear others appreciate the effort. 😉
I also find myself, when I am writing a post about mental health, constantly referring back to reference material or re-researching things that I “know.” There is just so much misinformation out there that I try to take the time to be accurate. That is obvious when you do your posts too!
I have so many things to say, but as I sit here trying to sum it all up, I’m realizing that it all boils down to two things. Thank you and I love you!
You are part of my tribe Jessica. Thank YOU!
What a wonderful post.
Dawn, this is so well thought out and filled with love and truth. I’m going to bookmark this for myself and I have friends I’m going to share it with. This wisdom was hard won and I’m so grateful you shared it. ❤
Thank you so much, Karen. You’re right, it has been “hard won”, but I’m grateful for all it. I feel blessed to have the knowledge I have at the age I am. It’s unfortunate that I do but at the same time, it’s going to further and further on this journey. I have hope that I will have solid peace in my heart one day.
Thanks for sharing , Dawn. You have a remarkable gift to share that I’m sure can help another person in need of information, education and finding purpose. Thank you for liking my blog.
Thanks for the kind words. Greatly appreciated. 😉
This REALLY hit home for me (I found it on Elephant Journal) . . . as I’m dealing w/the trauma of a very verbally abusive marriage where I self medicated for several years before I finally got a divorce, I’m now paying the price for that habit of self medicating or “checking out” . . . struggling to get these bad habits back in check now. Thank you for this insightful and deeply personal article. It’s just what I needed today.
Getting “back in check” feels like such an on going process! It’s exhausting and quite irritating at times, but worth it. Somehow when I fall down, I always manage to stumble my ass back up. Ya gotta, right?! Thanks for reading and taking the time to respond.
I love this post. And I like your blog. I nominated you for the Liebster Award. Please see the details here: https://pattyspathtohealing.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/liebster-award-from-q/
Thank you, Patty. That’s very kind of you.