Sunday, March 11, 2012
How much is enough?
How much healing is enough? In some cases, it's easy to tell. The scab falls off and your skin looks perfectly normal: that cut you were nursing is healed. The cast comes off, you finish a bout of physical therapy: your broken bone is healed. You wake up hungry and energetic: you have healed from the flu.
What about emotional wounds? It's so much trickier trying to find a clear endpoint, if indeed there is one. Everyone has been wounded emotionally in many ways; that reality as well as the way we choose to deal with it says much about us. Some folks decide to ignore the wounds. These are usually the people who revere all that's rational, distrust everything that isn't. I have a friend who, when confronted with her own sad history, says, "Is there a pill for that?" She takes a few pills to keep her emotional history at bay. It seems to work somewhat from what I can tell. I see her point - sometimes getting into the process of healing emotional wounds makes people feel worse for a little while, or they get mired in the old feelings, unable to remember to bring themselves back from the trauma. Addressing emotional wounds feels dangerous.
I believe that examining emotional wounds, honoring and grieving our losses and traumas, builds character and is redemptive in many ways. By facing emotional wounds, we break old patterns, learn about our heart's deepest desires, become stronger. But it's easy to become impatient, realizing how deep some of these wounds go. In particular for very old emotional hurts, the spiral of healing is multi-faceted, hence we can address an issue psychologically, take it apart, remember, grieve, honor, yet still not reach the essence of the wound. There is a visceral aspect to emotional wounds that perhaps can not be healed.
I guess that's true for many physical wounds as well. The bone heals and the patient regains full use of his arm, but that arm will always ache before a change in the weather, or scar tissue will restrict range of motion from then on, a reminder of the original injury.
One of my great teachers said we are born perfect. She meant that our energy fields at birth are intact, resilient, flexible and coherent. Sometimes even in the first minutes of life, shit happens. Certainly by the time people come to see me for massage their energy fields are dented, scraped, scratched, punctured, roughed up, also patched, glued, lumpy or uneven in some other way. These inconsistencies in the energy field describe emotional as well as physical wounds; it is a living history of our lives. We are complicated beings!
The body is intelligent, so when we break a bone or cut ourselves, corporeal wisdom takes over and begins the healing process straightaway without conscious intent. In the case of emotional wounds, we have to decide to work with them. It takes courage and brings wisdom.
If you're addressing emotional wounds, may you be patient and compassionate with yourself, may you remember how hard the work is. May you be well. Shalom.