Be Gentle With Yourself — Learn What It Takes To Really Heal

THE 5TH

Healing is painful, and it’s beautiful. It is everything you’d expect it to be and everything you think would be its opposite. It brings about a pain so visceral and raw that you cannot help but marvel at the beauty and depth of human emotion. It’s a journey on which you will find joy, and friendship, loneliness, and sometimes, a little bit of peace. I know one thing for sure – through all of the mistakes and the confusion, we are all desperately trying to mend our wounds little by little. We are constantly finding peace and losing it. We are fumbling in the dark and wandering around, just trying to heal.

Healing is the closing of my therapist’s door.
It’s saying, “I miss my mother” out loud.
It’s being numb and disheveled on the floor when loss feels like abandonment.
It’s the joy felt when you can’t stop laughing.
It’s being careless for a moment and loving yourself for it.
It is learning to love again.
It’s eye contact from across the room and feeling playful like a child.
It’s dreaming up love stories and agonizing over what you wish could be, and it’s realizing that sometimes your stories are only just that – stories, and nothing more.
It’s facing the fact that loving ideas of people is safe, but always painful in the end.
It’s crying because you’re tired of loving people you know you can’t have, but you don’t know how to stop.
It’s being in bed, feeling like you’re going to die.
It’s your first shower after six days.
It is lifting the brush up to your matted hair.
It is dancing in the car.
It’s allowing yourself to crave romance – and then allowing yourself to have it.
It’s crying in someone’s bedroom at 5AM after you walked all night, lost and drunk, just so you could lie next to them.
It’s acknowledging that you looked for love in the wrong place – the wrong person – and that it hurt you.
It’s being loved and it is not being loved back.
It is taking the chance.
It is believing, even just a little bit, that you will feel okay again.
It is letting go and moving on – it is one more try.
It is trusting that you are deeply loved and cared about.
It’s getting out of bed when the world feels too scary to face.
It is allowing yourself to stay in bed all day.
It is saying no.
It is not giving up on your beautiful, impassioned, life-altering idea of love.
It is the smallest attempt to be vulnerable – the slightest sliver of trust.
It is letting someone see your naked body.
It is letting someone love you.
It’s a smile at the grocery store and the breath you close your eyes to at night.
It’s finding someone else who has monumental empathy for strangers on the bus.
It’s believing that you are special, and rare, and beautiful.
It is being held late at night and trusting that nothing else is wanted from you.
It is listening and it is being listened to.
It’s the warmth in the eyes of someone who loves all the broken parts of you.
It is a gentle hand on the chest of a lover, the caress of a finger down your arm.
It is legs entangled and the warmth of two bodies – the kind that feels like medicine and wine and home – it is having this with someone you love for just one time, and for the last time.
It’s the song that gives your feelings a voice and says that which you cannot explain.
It is truly feeling seen, and doing your best to believe that you are worthy of genuine, incredible love.
It is holding your best-friend in your arms when they are heartbroken.
It’s the pregnant mother sobbing in the car at seventeen, hand to belly, telling her unborn son she will never leave him like she was left.

Healing is softly tracing the scars on my left wrist. It is quietly remembering being so terrified that I would feel the heartache for the rest of my life, and realizing now that I didn’t.
Healing is a child’s small hands and big eyes.
It is hearing your father’s trauma and crying for the child he was when he was hurt.
It is crying out for your mother.
It is crying for yourself.
It is forgiveness.

Healing is painful – damn near unbearable, sometimes – and I hate it just as much as I love it. I fear it just as much as I need it. I am frustrated, and sad, and desperately hopeful that a little bit of healing happens for all of us each day. If we pay close attention, I think that we can see the ways in which we try to heal, but more importantly, I think we need to have faith that it is happening.

Maybe for some people, healing really is found in a journal entry and fresh air, but maybe it’s also found in the nooks and crannies of strangers and friends, in the big and small moments that make up our lives.

I don’t know exactly what healing is, and I don’t know exactly how we do it. But I do know we need it, and I see the world searching for it all around me. I see people healing others and healing themselves without the slightest idea that healing is taking place. I believe that we cannot and should not avoid the confusion and the messiness inherent in this life, but I find great comfort because I truly believe that the journey matters. All of the ups and downs, they matter. I pay attention to how I bend and break – to how I find and lose peace.

I know that I can heal, and I know that you can, too. So here’s to healing, and the ways in which I hope you find your bits of peace. Start by believing you deserve it. TC mark

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