Holding Space to Heal Without Relying On The Story Of Brokenness
veiled from a casual, catch-up conversation on a Wednesday night was a mutual realization that tumbled out more like a confession: we are obsessed with the need to heal. But, is this 'healing" actually serving us anymore, or is it operating more like a crutch, an excuse, or, in my case, a talking point to explain our perceived realities? And to be honest, are we really all that broken?
My story of brokenness is old. They were mostly high school years. Years of angst and awkwardness for everyone, some worse than others (thanks, braces going on Sophomore year). But it wasn't the drama of braces at 16 that my brokenness resides. Mine isn't isolated, nor unique.
It also isn't simple to pinpoint just exactly was broken. Alcoholism is never simple. My dad was an alcoholic. The worse years in my memory were my high school years, though that's probably due to my own self- and delayed external awareness. Teenage vision isn't always expansive and mine was misdirected to global issues, community struggles, and selfish achievement as means to distract from what was happening at home.
Home was quiet. That's what I remember most. Quiet until it wasn't, that is. But my parents aren't yellers. They argued during the height of my dad's drinking years, but away from us kids, and honestly not much from my memory. And to escape further from the darkness, we would hide away upstairs together when not at soccer practice or some kind of filler after-school activity keeping us out of the house for a few extra saving hours. The noise, then, was general small talk, normal banter to fill in the gaps and help perpetuate the feigned reality that we were all just fine.
Then, my dad got sober! That's where one story ends and another begins. My siblings all have different versions of the latter story. Mine were from impressionable years. I was early teens to eighteen. My brother, younger than that, middle school, forcibly naive to the situation. My older sister, end of high school through her early twenties, bore more of the weight than I knew. She graduated high school, stayed at home for some time, then left for college. Out of the house, I always assumed she was self-preserving - "healing" - but being far away, not understanding till I was in college that loneliness can weigh on the spirit with more palpability than the in-house denial of our existence at home.
With his sobriety began my circular journey of healing, so did my dependence on this story to make me approachable. Otherwise, what did I know about life? What do I have to talk to people about? What difficulty could I reference when sap-story swapping with new friends? I mean, my family all stayed together even through those dark times, my parents love each other in a way that rivals a high school adoration of giddiness and devotion, I received a full-ride scholarship to play D-1 soccer, met my would-be husband freshman year of college, and honestly have had it pretty good.
"What I am now bringing to light with my own process of working through new iterations of past learned behaviors and beliefs, is that I am not broken."
And so, my crutch of "Well, it hasn't always been this easy" solidified and the "healing" story thickened. What I am now bringing to light with my own process of working through new iterations of past learned behaviors and beliefs, is that I am not broken.
We are all strong. The human spirit is more resilient than any of us know until we are challenged and tap into that inherent strength. The billion-dollar industry of health, wellness and spirituality wants us to believe there is a level of "healing" we all need. Can we progress into a more full, compassionate version of ourselves while getting a more clear understanding of the horrible experiences of the past? Of. Course! But, are we all damaged goods who need others to heal us at a 5-day retreat in Costa Rica eating only greens and coconuts? I don't think so. (Though admittedly, I've never done that, so if that's what you need then by all means, girl, do it!)
We are the healers we're looking for. By reverting to an obsession with the need of healing from my dad, I attribute current behaviors to something learned from that time. And frankly, I'm tired of my own lazy excuse of deflection and projection. This is not to say that there are very real feelings that surface from the past, sometimes in ferocious ways that surprise me, but even still, that does not take away from the growth and work I've done up to now.
So, in adamant and defiant fashion on that casual Wednesday night, my friend and I declared that we would no longer remain in the restrictive box of "I'm healing."
"Because, I am not broken."