I used to hate when I scraped my knee or elbow as a kid. I knew what was next. Mom would see it and want to pour that dreaded peroxide on it. Or if we didn't have any peroxide handy, she poured rubbing alcohol on the wound, which felt no better. The sting that followed after the cleaning agent hit my open flesh wound is what I wanted to avoid. Mom said, "it only lasts for a moment." Yet, that moment felt like an eternity. As children, our sense of time can be rather skewed. As I grew older, I knew the sting was brief and the peroxide or rubbing alcohol was needed to heal the wound. So, I would bare the few seconds of the sting. Before I knew it, the wound was on its way to healing.
Healing internally can be a similar process. Although some internal wounds can last longer than a brief moment when you finally face them, the fact of the matter is that that initial "sting" you'll feel is temporary. Yes, it's uncomfortable. Yes, you will recall some memories that you would have rather "forgotten." But the truth is, similar to an open wound that doesn't get treated, if you continue to pretend that those internal wounds are not present, it will infect you. It shows up in your mental and emotional health, your relationships, the way you treat others, and the way you treat yourself. It can even show up in how you maintain your living space. Some people become hoarders because of the internal anguish they refuse to face.
Before I began my own healing journey, my untreated internal wounds showed up in nearly every facet of my life. I thought because I was no longer living at home with my parents, or in the town I was raised in for that matter, that I didn't need to address childhood abuse, molestation, and other traumatic experiences I had endured. It showed up in my mental and emotional health. I battled with depression, angry outbursts, and mood swings as a younger adult. The untreated internal wounds showed up in my relationships with others and myself. As a child, I had learned how to maintain toxic relationships with intimate partners. I even developed a very unhealthy and unloving relationship with myself. In result, it seemed I was incapable of ever reaching my fullest potential in life.
I tried to go to counseling in my early 20's, but did not like how the counselor encouraged me to discuss what had happened to me as a kid. I did not want to relive any of those horrific moments. I felt my past was irrelevant to my present. I stopped going and told myself that those experiences were in my past and that it was unnecessary to dig up old stuff. So, I continued to live life with internal wounds that were continuing to infect me and my life. I was scared to feel the pain again - the pain I felt as a kid. I didn't want to see the memories or feel the anguish I thought I had left behind me when I left my hometown as a teenager. Yet, I knew I had to face the pain from my past when I became destructive toward my own self. The depression I battled with caused me to have suicidal ideations. I knew it was time for me to face my painful past and embark upon a journey of healing. Otherwise, I may have been the cause of my own demise...
I also got tired of jumping from relationship to relationship as an act of avoidance in not wanting to heal from the previous heartbreak. Someone was always right there in my back pocket when a current relationship was going sour. Rather than allowing myself time to heal and be single, I jumped right into the next relationship, hoping the love I was seeking from my new partner could cause the pain from my previous partner to disappear. That never happened. In fact, all I did was add another layer of baggage and brought another heartbreak to my new relationship. There were also times I knew a relationship had run its course and that it was time for me to leave; however, I didn't want to feel the pain of a failed relationship or another heartbreak. I stayed, despite my intuition telling me to do otherwise. I was miserable, to say the least. All because I didn't want to feel the temporary sting. I got tired of this vicious and repetitive cycle and decided to end it.
I tried counseling again several years later with an open mind and a willing heart. I knew, this time, I was going to address my past. I was fearless in my pursuit to uncover all of the pain that had been holding me in bondage for far too long. I courageously poured my heart out to a stranger as I cleansed my soul one teardrop at a time. I felt liberated and lighter each time I peeled back another layer. I continued to go to counseling for years thereafter. I developed an awesome rapport with my counselor and still keep her up to date to this very day, but with good news now! She encouraged me, held my hand, and listened to everything my soul released without judgment. Going to counseling was very instrumental in the successes I've had on my healing journey. I also journaled and began opening up to friends and family. Eventually, I found myself being able to share my experiences without shedding a tear. The temporary sting of facing my past was more than worth it!
Below are 6 Practical Ways to Begin Your Own Healing Journey:
1) Acknowledge that you have some internal baggage that is weighing you down. If you allow yourself to get silent for a moment, in the stillness you will be able to recall what exactly that baggage is. But I bet you may already know!
2) Begin to journal what's within. You'll be surprised what will come out of you when the pen hits the paper. Writing may not be for everyone. If you prefer to draw, paint, or express yourself through any other channel that will be therapeutic for you, then go for it!
3) Do not be afraid to outsource services when needed (i.e counseling or therapy). There is nothing more freeing and liberating than to release what has been hurting your heart and soul. It is also a relief to know that your therapist or counselor is held to confidentiality standards; therefore, there is no need to worry about what you've shared being repeated.
4) Share with someone close to you that you've embarked upon this journey for added support. You shouldn't go through this alone. Try your church family, find a mentor, or seek out local support groups in your community.
5) Be patient with yourself. There is no set time on this. Healing is a journey. Beginning is usually the toughest part. Once you're on the path and begin to experience the rewards of healing, you'll wish you would have started sooner!
6) Why do you do it? I not only wanted to release years of junk that was inside of me, but I also wanted to break generational curses to ensure my son was not a byproduct of my pain. I didn't want to hurt anyone else because of my own pain (hurt people hurt other people). Find your "why" and remind yourself of this when the journey becomes challenging.
If you'll fearlessly embark upon your own healing journey, it can be one of the most rewarding experiences you'll ever have. If you truly heal internally your life can and will change in a positive manner. You will discover it may have been one of the best decisions you ever made for yourself. I implore you to begin today!