As I currently walk out the process of yet another healing path I've decided to become a willing participant in, I was led to share the importance of having healthy coping skills. When I was an adolescent and in the midst of some of my greatest hurts and pain, I had no clue what coping skills were. In hindsight, unbeknownst to me, I've had coping skills all along, some unhealthy, some healthy. As I grew up, the coping skills evolved. Some lingered into my adulthood, some stayed behind after I decided to live a life from the inside-out. The most damaging and unhealthy coping skills are documented in my memoir, Unclothed Memoir of a Naked Soul (quick plug if you are curious 😃 ). Anyway, the more aware I become, the more I feel a sense of responsibility to apply the healthy coping skills I've acquired over the years to my life; specifically during a healing process.
Coping with hurt and pain is not a pretty process. It can suck. I mean the type of uneasiness that causes one to want to reach for alcohol, drugs, food, sex, or whatever vice pleases your flesh the most. Yet, on this journey, I've learned none of those vices heal. Although I've tried all of the above and then some, healing never occurred. Healing only occurred when I consciously decided to become a willing participant, roll my sleeves up, and be willing to do the work required to actually experience healing. See, the unhealthy coping skills I mentioned are what I like to consider "band-aids." They make the hurt and pain disappear temporarily but, when the high of the flesh from the vices used comes down, the floodgates of hurt, pain, guilt, and shame are opened and consume one to the point of feeling as if you're drowning.
That's how I felt recently. I forgot about my healthy coping skills; I forgot who I was. I was coping with the hurt and pain of having to let go of people and friendships, personal situations arose, work situations arose, and so on and so forth. I began coping with that familiar inner feeling of abandonment, betrayal, feeling judged, and hurt with external factors that never healed my wounds; it only added to them. I began turning to a beloved source that had been there since I was a little girl, who coped with the pain of sexual, emotional and physical abuse - with food. Food didn't talk back. It was comforting, in the moment. It was always available and never left me. Yet, once the comfort of whatever savory or sweet dish I decided to divulge in dissipated, the evidence was apparent on my waistline, my thoughts.... and ultimately, my inner being. The feelings I attempted to mask were still present. They didn't disappear as I had hoped. They magnified as now I had to address the guilt and shame I felt after overindulging. Then the endless cycle began. Feel the emotions of hurt and pain, eat to make the pain go away. Feel the emotions of shame and guilt, eat to make the pain go away. And the cycle continued until I decided to stop it.
I became very aware I was in a vicious cycle, yet it seemed physically, emotionally, and mentally impossible to stop it. I felt my willpower had failed me and each time I succumbed to a session of feeling sorry for myself, I dug a deeper hole to climb out of. This was a very familiar place. I had been there before, at a place where I felt helpless. It was when I tried to take my life 8 years ago. I felt alone. I felt hopeless. I felt like a failure, and so on and so forth. Yet, this time, when those similar feelings arose within my being, I didn't take the same action of self-harm as I had done in the past to try to eliminate the feeling. This time, I was able to recognize the feelings I was experiencing and make a decision to do something to shift my experience in a different direction. I relied on my spiritual coping skills. My physical coping skills were not enough. In the past, running, exercising, etc were my outlets. Yet, this time I needed something deeper to pull me out of the ditch I was in.
There weren't enough running miles in the world that could replace the deeper connection I was desiring - a connection with the Creator of all things. I decided it was time to put everything and everyone in the backseat as I sought after a deeper resolve for my healing. I had been here before, I knew what to do. I just had to do it (like Nike says 😃 ). Through prayer, meditation, writing, solitude, studying, fasting and self-care, I have been able to go back to the basics of what matters most; my health, healing, and being whole. People, places, and things will fade away, but one thing is for sure, regardless of what your current circumstances are, as long as you have breath in your lungs, there is a reason and a purpose for your existence. I dare you to find your healthy coping skills and to seek it!
Love and Light,