Life after healing... I wonder what that's like. For many of us trauma survivors, there is no "after healing". There is just a before and after trauma.
Healing is a lifestyle now. It's something I chase after every day. If I stop actively seeking it out I will wake up and watch recovery slowly slip through my hands like grains of sand. Healing is the water that keeps the grains of sand packed together, that allows my recovery to take shape into something sturdy and reliable. I can continue to build castles out of sand every day that I seek it, or I can tear it all down in just a moment of giving up.
There is no life after healing. Life IS HEALING. Healing is made of a million little layers. You peel one back just to find another one.
I've been at this healing thing for over a decade and I continue to heal and learn new things about myself all the time. Now I know many of you reading this are probably feeling sad for me that this won't likely end. I can assure you, HEALING IS A GIFT, albeit a difficult one sometimes.
When I was a little girl I remember sitting on the beach. My grandmother owned a house down the Cape and we spent many Summer weekends enjoying time with family. As I was sitting there sifting through the sand I remember thinking how big my legs looked. How round my belly was as I stared down at my awkward body. Other little kids were running about flying kites or splashing in the water... but I was sitting there burying my legs in the sand.
A few years later we were back on the same beach and this time I was being buried by family. We dug out a small square just deep enough for me to lay in. The sun was sweltering hot so we took breaks to dip in the water and to eat. Peanut butter sandwiches for everyone. I was so intrigued with animals and quickly
learned that I could draw in the seagulls by tearing apart my sandwich and throwing it to them, which I often did. I was never that hungry.
Back to work we went, digging out the trench that I would lay in. It was finally time for the burial. I got inside and felt the sand start to pour over my legs. It felt cold and there was comfort in being hidden. Once I was buried they quickly set to work creating the body of a mermaid. My head, just a different body. A more feminine body. With a small waist, seashell breasts and a long tail adorned with perfect scales. I was complete. I looked down at my new body and a strange sensation started to arise. The sand on my little chest was making it harder for me to breath. I instantly wanted out and started to panic. I tried to pull out my arms and legs but of course I couldn't. I didn't have the strength under the packed sand.
I remember my grandmother looking over, concerned. She told me to just start wiggling my fingers and toes slowly. To start feeling around and that it would loosen the sand around me. Soon I was able to work my way free.
The expectation to recover fully is tremendous. There is a paradox that exists in society and it makes us feel rushed and crippled under the pressure.
Diet culture tells women they need to look a certain way. But go too far and you are mentally ill. It's another balancing act that is expected of women. Work full time and you aren't a good mother, stay at home with the kids and you are a dependent without a purpose. Be too conservative and you are a prude. Be liberal and free with your sexuality and you are slut. Endure an act of violence and stay silent and you are part of the problem. Speak up and you bring it upon yourself with your clothing and demeanor. This is not just a Diet Culture Issue. These polarizing social dilemmas have been plaguing women forever. They are damaging and they infiltrate our brains at a young age.
These contradictory expectations bury us in self-hatred and make it impossible to achieve society's definition of success. It's no wonder that 4 out of 5 women express dislike for themselves.
Society builds the constructs that keep us trapped and we have to figure out how to tear them all down. We won't overcome these things in a singular lifetime. THIS is generational trauma. It is years of women being sexualized and objectified.
So, not achieving full recovery WILL NOT BE YET ANOTHER PRESSURE I PUT ON MYSELF. I will show up each day in action. Self-love is a verb after all. I will continue to peel the layers back. I will stand up for what is right. I will help others while I help myself. I might fall down, but I'll get back up. I will embrace healing as a lifestyle rather than an end destination and I will seek joy because I deserve it.
<-------I will do it for this little girl.
If you are in recovery and it feels never ending I see you. I know how hard it is. You aren't alone.
Remember that we can't do it alone. We can't just wish it all away. That will break us. We need the support and camaraderie of those who understand. We need to show up and learn how to move forward. We need to let those around us who get it help us.
We need to wiggle our fingers and toes until slowly one grain of sand at a time we can reclaim our bodies and stand tall. Then when we are free, we can gather up the sand and decide what we want to build with it. I thought maybe I would build a castle...safe from the outside world but that narrative is old and patriarchal. I'm done with fitting the mold. Sand castles end up broken and destroyed by the incoming tide. Washed away and forgotten.
I went on to build a community instead. Empowered RX is the result of a decade of healing. Of learning. Of failing. It is a community of women who are striving to change the status quo. Who refuse to be defined by society's bullshit standards. A sisterhood of women who are taking their power back.
While I don't know what the future has in store, I know I am never going to tear down my body again. This is my home. I GET to live here every day. It allows me to jump and dance and do some of my favorite things. It is strong and resilient and covered in scars. I've always been clumsy. AND that's okay. I will continue fumbling in the dark like I always have. I've learned to embrace it.
So yes, there is no life after healing for me. LIFE IS HEALING and it is a gift.