I made a connection that I wanted to share. I had this thought come through my mind that I’ve been ruminating on, what does being healed look or feel like to me? To be honest what came to my mind caused me to pause and further reflect. Images of perfection, flawlessness, and a person who inhibited a body that had never been affected by complex trauma were the images that came to the surface for me. The thoughts that followed are what I would like to share with you here, if you’re interested.
Upon reflecting, I noticed a few things. One: that the images I was holding as an ideal of a fully healed me were very closely aligned to social norms around what is good and desirable and healthy. Two: they were also images and feelings of a person that had never been through any of the things that I’ve been through. It was an image of a person who had been wiped clean of any residue that trauma or life may have left on me. I then thought about how much systems and culture and industries around us perpetuate this thinking and this imagery. These images of what we “should be” and what a healed person looks or feels like. I also thought about how healing as an industry sells this climatic peak of well and happy and this place that we must ascend to. We’re sold that we must ascend to this place where we are no longer affected by anything or anyone - where we are free from any residue of what has happened. These ideals to me are a set up and an unattainable goal for healing.
I realized that my expectation of healing what it looks like to be healed needed to be change.
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The ideal of healed for a survivor of complex trauma cannot be a body that has never survived complex trauma. Striving to get to a place where we can be as if nothing ever happened, from my own experience - yours may be different, is an exhausting and never ending endeavor.
I then thought about how incongruent it is to have any expectations at all around healing. How can I hold my body to a future expectation at all really? My experiences and I are both complexly individual and ever changing. Just as your experience and you are also complexly individual and ever changing. So how can one fixed point be the ideal for all of us to use and all of us to attain?
So for me, and I’m extending this invitation to you as well, it may be more useful for each of us to define healing for ourselves. May we each claim stake as experts of ourselves and move toward an understanding that healing or healed should be as individual as we are. This is the framework for the work that I do. But it’s as if I’d applied that to everyone else but not to myself. Funny how we do that.
Here are some of the questions that I’m thinking about and attempting to apply to myself. What if the expectation of healing or the end goal of being healed wasn’t to fit into a social norm of goodness or healthy or a really unattainable mold of perfection? What if it was more so an evolving place where we are given opportunities to make connections with our bodies in our own timing and pace? What if healing was an invitation to notice how our nervous systems have been geniously wired to survive instead of pathologizing our responses? Could it also be about locating power, choice, and what is feelable in our bodies in the present moment?
What if healing wasn’t an external tangible goal? What if healing was an internal developed sense of noticing when things inside of us are activating and then what if in those moments of noticing we were taught a few resources to help us choose what we’d like to do with the activation? This is the invitation with TCTSY. This is a lens that I teach others and that I am now more attentively applying to myself. I guess it’s like the chef that doesn't cook for themselves or the masseuse that doesn't get massages. It’s easier sometimes to teach the thing rather than apply and do the thing for ourselves. I’m working on this.
My hope is to continue to change my expectations around healing and to guide myself and others into a space where we choose for ourselves what healing feels like internally rather than striving for an outward expression of what being healed looks like externally. If you’re interested in learning more about this way of healing you’re welcome to join an upcoming training.