Last night I ran into a bunch of friends at my husband’s restaurant. It was one of those evenings when my extroverted self was quietly craving for some human interaction but my introverted self did not make much effort to make it happen. Fortunately, the universe took over and there were lots of familiar faces milling around and I was able to feed my need to be social.
I sat down at a table with a group of close friends and one of them began sharing with me her thoughts and feelings about my blog. It is always a strange experience to have people tell me (1) they read my blog; (2) they like my blog; (3) they relate to my experience. Writing is mostly a solitary exercise but putting it out into the ether socializes it and creates the possibility of it smashing right into someone who needs to read your words at the very moment it reaches them. Knowing that this phenomenon takes place makes me happy and very satisfied because, while the writing is part of my journey, what people get from my writing is absolutely part of their journey. I sincerely want to help people along their pathways.
My friend said something to me that struck me and really settled into my head. She referred to my journey that I am sharing as healing. She is certainly right but I never really think of this as a healing process. Now, even as I write those words, I recognize how ridiculous they sound. The wounds of my lifetime need to heal and I need to be able to stop picking at the scabs and let them be. My friend shared with me many similarities in our experiences and residual behaviors and feelings that she struggles with in her life. And, she acknowledged how powerful it is to know there is someone else out there who has lived this kind of life and can find some healing.
Healing is a remarkably confusing concept for me to process. If I heal, then I likely do not feel the pain anymore. If I heal properly, there might not even be any scars to remind me of the wounds. Is that actually a possibility in my life? I’ve never actually imagined a reality that would allow me to live in a “healed” way that I would not continually struggle to fight my demons.
By definition, to heal is to make healthy, whole, or to finally to free from evil, cleanse or purify. All of those meanings resonate because they reflect the underlying goals in my life. I would like to be emotionally healthy to the point that I am not facing down the burdens of my past on a regular basis. I’d like to cleanse my soul and rid myself of the years of impurities that have tainted my life. But, is that really possible?
As a child of my parents, both of which struggled with their own demons and needed to be healed, I grew up without a compass. I never had a north. I never had a sense of where to go, who to be, how to behave. The only truth that was crystal clear was that I did not want to be living the life I was in. I could have become an alcoholic – it ran in my family. I could have recklessly experimented with drugs. I could have engaged in a series of abusive and destructive relationships. I could have commit suicide to get away from the pain. I never did any of those things. Instead, I got an education, carved out a career for myself, fell in love, started a family and somewhat consciously (but also unknowingly) set out to change my course. Without a map, without a compass, without a north to guide me. Unwittingly, I had no other options because I knew, every single day of my life, that I had to move far away from a world of abuse that diminished me, tortured me and made me feel like I was not worthy of anything. What I never believed was that I would ever wake up one day and feel peaceful and cleansed. That has never been a possibility or a seeming reality. I presumed that I would trudge through, make this life for myself but forever live with a black spot inside me where I kept the remnants of all the tragedies of my life.
I know that my friend did not intend this but she unlocked a new possibility for me. By mere suggestion she provoked me to action in a way that I never anticipated. It is what I love about the human experience. No matter how dark the days, how bleak the horizon might look, there is the extraordinary opportunity that one person will sit next to you and say or do something that will make you feel differently, see things differently, behave differently. They will move you and it will inspire you or change you. I feel it is my journey to do that for others but I am always surprised when others do it for me. It is priceless, it is precious, it is powerful and it is needed and welcomed.
The other day another friend said I have an amazing ability to move others to action. That was an extremely flattering comment that really touched me because, to be able to do that is a very special privilege. One that I try to manage carefully because if you are moving people to action, you better be moving them towards positive action. It makes me feel special and it makes me feel like I am doing something right in my life. If my blog is touching the hearts of people and moving them to take positive actions in their lives, then mission accomplished. But, I want my friend who last night touched me with one simple word to know that we all have that power and she just paid it forward. Thanks.