When you hurt yourself physically, you know that you need to give yourself the time and space to recover.
You know that the goal is to allow your body to regenerate, to return to what it was before — maybe a little weaker, maybe a bit more sensitive, but ultimately the same.
You assume your mind is the same way.
You imagine that a hot bath and a mental health day will solve your problems. You think that if you got seriously damaged by an experience in life, the solution is to try to go back to what you were before.
This is not at all how it works, because while your body can recover, your soul has to heal, and there is a difference between the two.
If you’re trying to restore yourself to the person you were before you got hurt, you’re trying to recover. If you’re ready to shed your old self and become someone entirely new, you’re ready to heal.
Recovering means you’re trying to go back to who you were before — the person who did not know better, and got you into that situation to begin with. Recovering means you’re still idolizing and romanticizing life before the traumatic event, you’re still grasping onto the familiar past.
Recovering means that you’re still trying to be someone you used to be, while healing means that you’re stepping into someone entirely new.
You might think that recovering is what’s going to solve your problems, because really, recovering is a lot more comfortable. At the onset, it makes you feel better.
Recovering is a day off and some retail therapy. Recovering is cutting off contact with people who annoy you. Recovering is indulging in something delicious because you deserve it. Recovering is remembering your worth and your power. Recovering is stepping back into what you built before. Recovering is a return.
Healing is admitting that your job is slowly killing you. Healing is enforcing a strict budget because you have long-term financial aspirations. Healing is restoring relationships instead of just walking away from them. Healing is choosing what nourishes you, not what comforts you. Healing is finding unprecedented worth and power. Healing is stepping into what you’ve never done before. Healing is a rebirth.
So while many of our stresses in life can and often are solved by taking some time to restore ourselves, our big, lingering, overarching, continual, habitual problems are not. We usually avoid them with the exact same behaviors that we use to recover.
Recovering is important, but it isn’t permanent.
Healing is essential, because it lasts forever.