We’ve been talking about lots of heavy stuff the past few days and I think it’s time to lighten the mood. I’d like to home in on what it looks like to be ‘healed’. This is an incredibly subjective concept. For me, healed has meant more good days than bad; more stable moments than chaotic; a busier, livelier life.
It all kind of snuck up on me. I was so focused on feelings of overwhelm, drowning in emotions, just trudging along one step at a time, one day at a time. At some point, I lifted my head, opened my eyes and saw a new world. Colors were richer, birds were louder, I was smiling. Where am I?
It felt like driving somewhere on auto pilot. You park the car and as you’re taking the key out, you think, ‘Wait a minute…how did I get here?’ Only this time, my destination was way cooler than the grocery store.
While this doesn’t mean I’m never triggered, what it does mean is that I am not triggered nearly as easily or as often; that I recognize I am being triggered and choose to remove myself from the situation and have the tools to calm myself. As I read those words, it’s shocking, even still, just how difficult something like that used to be. I feel the aftereffects of that time; like a lingering ghost of a headache from the day before.
I think it’s important to maintain reasonable expectations on what it means to be healed. It doesn’t erase difficult memories. It doesn’t return to us, parts that were stolen.
I have a scar on my forehead from when I was three. Friends and I (at my behest) were jumping on the bed. Karma knocked me off the bed and I gashed my forehead on the metal frame. I remember jumping. Then laying on my back, partly under the bed and wondering how I got there and why everyone was screaming. Then sitting on my Grandma’s lap in the kitchen of her friends we were visiting. When I tried to lift my head, I was instantly nauseous and fainted. That’s it. In perfect trauma fashion, I remember snapshots devoid of narrative.
Even though it healed well, I’ve always had a visible scar to remind me to never jump on beds. Sometimes it hurts a little for seemingly no reason. Sometimes it itches, which is weird. What in the world makes scars itch? BUT it does not send me reeling back into that awful moment of being sick and fainting. I still have the snapshot memories for the most part. Grandma talking to me afterwards helped fill in a little narration. The thought of the entire ordeal makes me cringe a little but that’s nothing compared to the fear I had of getting out of the bed every morning for a while afterwards. I was so nervous that I might fall and hit my head again.
That’s how being healed is now. I have the memories, mostly snapshots with a little narration filling in here and there. There are many unpleasant memories. But I can think about them and talk about them without being overcome with emotion. Without filling with rage. Without dissociation. Not that I ever would have chosen those events, but I can now see how they’ve helped me grow stronger, helped me become the person I am. Sure, I’d love to have gotten here on an easier path. But I’m here now and for that I am grateful. And that is how I know I am healed.