If you knew me when I was 9-years old, you would have considered me the most unlikely of healers. My younger sister remembers me as “fun-loving.” I loved listening to music, playing games with my friends in the summer, reading comic books, and watching TV. I was a pretty typical kid. Maybe on the artsy-craftsy side but I don’t think anyone who knew me would have said, “that girl is going to be a great nurse/doctor/social worker one day.”
When I was a teenager and young adult I had a very hard time. I felt as though I was a bad fit in the world. I was too sensitive and was physically and socially awkward. This manifested outwardly in anorexia and hair pulling. Even when these external signs were no longer present, I still walked feeling as though there was a “freak” sign pinned to my back.
Engagement in therapy and most importantly spiritual practice changed me. It changed the way I experienced myself and the world. Part of my healing process was witnessing my own hurts without judgement. And when I could witness my own hurting and feel empathy, I began to realize that much of my shut down as a young adult was because I was taking in; absorbing not just my own hurts but the pain of others.
Healers have an interest in skills and technology. Whether you’re a neurologist or shaman, you spend years becoming educated, sharpening your skills, and getting experience. In addition, particularly for those who engage in healing trauma and psychic pain, empathy is a common factor.
Ideally, as a healer, we are aware of our own trauma and have/are actively addressing it. Perhaps we are even addressing the traumas of previous generations which have been shown to carry forward in our DNA. And as we address our own trauma and heal, we become acutely aware of the pain in our larger community. I know I’ve always felt deeply distressed when I witness or hear about social injustice or listen to the stories of natural disasters brought on by climate change.
I’m not a sign carrier and I rarely show up for protest meetings. I’m quiet and private. But that doesn’t mean I’m not affected and it doesn’t mean I’m not quietly in my own way, taking action to create a world that is kinder and most just for all it’s inhabitants.
Although I didn’t always acknowledge my own role as a healer, my deep desire to feel at home in this world pushed me to heal and in turn into being someone who values healing for all things. For me it hasn’t felt like a choice, my happiness is inextricably linked to my healing
All beings, human and not human, have their own medicine. We are all healers in some capacity. If we aren’t using our healing capacity, it’s likely that we are hurting within and quite possibly hurting others.
This is not a black and white proposition. Most of us are simply doing our best. But I can’t forget the words of Maya Angelou, that “Hurt people, hurt people.” The more hurt we are, the more hurt we are capable of creating. Most people do not intend to cause harm. But they quite literally don’t know a different way of being.
I’m not writing this as a call to action. My intention isn’t to make anyone feel bad about themselves. Regardless of the work I’ve done, I will always be discovering unpleasant truths about how I’m unintentionally hurting others. I believe being a human being is to be a continual work in progress. My hope is when I finally leave this world, I will have addressed most of my own bullshit. I hope my legacy is one mostly of love and kindness.
My intention for writing this is to share a bit of what I know about myself and the nature of healing. And perhaps if you are intrigued, to become curious about what healing looks like for you. There is a lot of hurt in the world and one of the best ways to address that hurt is to begin with very gently addressing what can be healed in you. To remember that healing is always a choice we can make.