what does healing look like?

Someone recently asked me about if I still have repercussions or trauma difficulties in relationship to my abuse experiences. [If you don’t know my history, I lived through some pretty horrific childhood abuse.] They shared what they were going through and it got me thinking about the process of healing and how we can feel so stuck. This is part of what I replied:

If I understand you correctly, it’s like you’re looking down (visually) on yourself and see yourself going in circles, back to the same old ground that you were sure you had covered and dealt with before. Seeing things that way is extremely discouraging.

Consider another perspective. Instead of looking from above and seeing yourself going in circles, see yourself from the side, climbing a crystal-clear spiral staircase. From above, you are going in circles, but from the side it becomes clear that you are rising above your past, covering that same old ground from a higher place each and every time. That’s what healing from abuse is like.

I wish I could tell you about the secret elevator to the top where you get off and everything is heavenly and perfect, but I’d be a liar. We must climb the staircase, one step at a time, and no one can do it for us. But you know all this. :)

And we do, we do know all of this. But we forget and we need to get quiet again, to still the waters so our inner wisdom can bubble to the surface. When we’re thrashing around like a drowning person, the pond of inner wisdom is chaotic and we are apt to miss our wisest self responding. And I say ‘we’ on purpose—this is my crap too. This is exactly what I try to remind myself of when I’m thrashing around.

It’s human to suffer. The Buddha taught us that as the very first principle: the First Noble Truth. We can’t beat ourselves up for suffering, for being human. Well, actually we can and do, which becomes the source of even more suffering. The work is to recognize when we’re thrashing about, accept where we are (radical acceptance!), and let the storm of emotion wash over and through us. Then, from that place, ask what would be the most effective thing to do. It’s really cool: we always know the answer when we let ourselves.