Recently, someone told me that I don’t write about my healing. After I picked my jaw up off of the table, I decided to explore this a bit so I read all of my posts. Again. And I asked a few of my friends, those who have bravely (and VERY patiently) stood by my side through my journey, what they thought about this person’s statement. What I came up with is this – healing looks and sounds different to everyone. It’s a relative process. To see how far one has traveled, it is necessary to see where one began.
Author Sheri Green said, “Your truth may not look like mine, but that is not what matters. What matters is this: You can look at a scar and see hurt, or you can look at a scar and see healing.” It comes down to a matter of pure perspective. A choice between seeing one thing versus another. A reframe, us therapists might say.
My scars are visible. I know this. I don’t try to hide them. They are part of who I am . I’ve become one with my scars, big and small. Some run deep and others sit just at the surface, almost superficial. Each one tells a little piece of my story, a brushstroke on the canvas of my life.
I have publicly exposed my scars week after week this summer. Hitting that “publish” button each time, sending my inner thoughts, feelings, and experiences out to anyone who decides to read them, is terrifying stuff. It gives me anxiety. It makes me wonder who might be judging me. I am exposing myself to my family, my friends, students, their parents, coworkers, old acquaintances…a diverse collection of people. Understand my fear?
Each week I explain my scars with a thoughtful blending of words and feelings. I genuinely write about what is on my mind, but also my heart. It’s not censored. Or contrived. And it’s not a way for me to say “oh poor me.” Yes, my scars each tell a bit of my story. A painful story. But it’s not the pain that the scars represent; it’s the healing. I know because I am telling my story. I am sharing my scars with you.
Remember when I said that I believe that healing is a relative process and to see how far one has traveled, it is necessary to see where one began? For a long time after P left, I would go to bed at night and think “if I don’t wake up tomorrow I will be okay with that.” And then each morning, when I did wake up, I would begin the day crying followed by spending a long time talking myself into putting two feet on the floor. I went through the motions, but hated nearly every moment of every day. I was trying desperately to hide what was happening from nearly everyone while inside I was fighting to hold on. Call it selfish. Or pitiful. Or self-centered. I don’t care. I’m being honest. I was in a personal hell. My worst nightmare. I don’t expect everyone to understand. Honestly, it’s my sincere hope that you don’t ever really understand. I hated my life and I hated myself. I wanted to disconnect from everyone and everything. If you looked at my scars then, you would have seen hurt.
But my scars have changed. They no longer radiate a constant pain. The redness has diminished and they aren’t as raised. They have started to blend into the rest of me. We are becoming one – my scars and me. I sometimes find myself absentmindedly running my hand along one and then, instead of focusing on how I was wounded, I think about how I have healed.
Last week, I received one of the most beautiful letters I have ever been given. I have read it over and over and each time I am overcome with emotions. If there was ever proof that I am healing, it was in these words – “if I am half the person, mother, teacher, and inspiration that you are, then I’ll call it a success.” The person who wrote this letter likely had/has no idea what those words would symbolize. In 19 words, that person made me realize that I am nearly whole again and that my life, the very life that less than a year ago I would have been okay with ending, impacts others in a ways I can’t even imagine. It is a gift that I will treasure forever.
See, here’s the real conclusion I have come to about my written expression of healing – it doesn’t matter. You’re going to read this blog and get out of it whatever you get out of it. And that’s cool. Because this isn’t about you. It’s about me. Yes, it’s about ME. This is my journey. My story. My pain. My scars. And my fucking victory. Sorry, cursing was necessary there. 🙂 I’m healing. Every. Single. Day. I don’t go to bed anymore hoping to not wake up. I don’t just go through the motions anymore. Well, sometimes I do, but that’s usually for a whole different reason. I share my feelings with the people in my life. The good. The bad. The ugly. It’s who I am. I like this person I have become. I’m covered in scars and it’s okay. We all are.