Abuse, healing, mental health, Personal Growth

Bon Voyage!

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Lau Tzu

A thousand-mile journey seems a bit daunting, especially when you can see the long road ahead with no end in sight. I am currently continuing on the journey that I first stepped foot on when I was in college, and as of now, there is no end in sight. This journey I am referring to is one of healing.

Have you ever been on a road trip and thought, “Are we there yet?” One where you just want more than anything to be at your destination where you can relax and enjoy the moment? The relief is great, and making the trip is exhausting, but it’s so worth it because it’s something you’ve been waiting for. That’s kind of how I would describe this journey of healing I am on, except, there is no destination.

It’s long.
It’s exhausting.
Sometimes I feel like I make very little progress due the literal exhaustion I face.
I press on.
But why?
Because it helps me to enjoy future moments.
And it’s worth it. Every grueling step is worth it.

When I first took the step to begin healing, I wanted so badly to run real fast to the finish line. I wanted to be healed, and I would do whatever it took to get there. For me, it looked like this: I started therapy, my therapist would recommend books and other resources, I would leave and immediately purchase said books and/or find these resources, and I would expect to feel better. I would return to therapy tell my therapist I read this and that book and I understand why I feel like this, but I don’t feel better.

Then during one therapy session (pretty early on), she asked me, “What does being healed look like?” OH man…I struggled to answer that because I could not even imagine what it would look like. My life up to that point had been a mess. I was struggling with toxic family dynamics, being in the throes of depression and the new anxiety that came from being able to focus solely on me, and remembering the sexual abuse I had endured for six years as a child. That’s a mess. A messy mess, and it makes me cringe to think about it even today (and to throw it out there on the internet). But how could I try to even imagine what healing would look like? All I know is that I wanted it more than I wanted anything ever before because feeling so broken was very painful. It was heavy and I just didn’t want to carry it anymore. The simple answer I had for my therapist was, “I just want to feel better.”

“Well, what does that look like?”

That is when I had to come to the very painful truth that healing is a journey. It’s not something you can put on a to-do list and check off, which is how I manage my daily life. It’s a long, grueling, and beautiful journey. I had to accept that I wasn’t going to feel better right away or really anytime soon. It would take hard work and would be painful, but it would lessen the weight in my heart and shoulders as I continued. Accepting this and choosing to venture on this journey has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to do because I so badly wanted to see the end, the healed parts of me. It wasn’t going to happen anytime soon, and that was difficult for me to accept, but I eventually did. I knew this commitment would sometimes have me dragging my feet and at other times, putting the work in would lead me to skipping joyfully. Sure, there would be difficult times, but there was hope that eventually the difficult days would be few and far between.

I have been on this journey of healing for a decade, and there have been many valleys and challenges along the way. There have been times that I’ve taken a rest from continuing, and at times, I became way too comfortable resting. But I am still on the journey, and I foresee this being one of a lifetime. Truth be told, the things I have endured will always be part of me. I can’t forget them and wish they had never happened. I WISH I could do that, but it’s not how life works. Acceptance of how these experiences have shaped me have been transformative in my journey. My faith in God has grown strong because I cling to hope that something good will come out of this mess, and it has. I am becoming the person I want to be…one who is vulnerable and strong…one who loves big and feels deeply.

Whether you are just beginning to take the first step or you have endured weeks, months, even years of your journey towards healing, I want to wish you a safe journey. I want you to know that my journey is right alongside yours, and when you are weak, I will be there to help make you strong. These challenges we face in our lives help us to tap into our empathy and make connections with people. The journey is long. It’s grueling. It’s worth it.

Bon Voyage, friends.

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