Self-Care and Healing

Some women fear 
the fire
some women simply 
become it…
– r.h. sin
****trigger warning: content includes sexual assault discussion****

After, you go on: picking up bits of your soul from the ground, and dusting them off while your dignity bleeds across the ground and you stumble over your body only to find redemption… and hell in your skin. It still holds you together. Your bones have not disintegrated. You have not ebbed into salt and sand and dust. People will smile at you and pat you on the back. They will look at you like they understand. Like they know. They will tell you things will be okay. They will expect you to stitch yourself back together, close your eyes and sleep and to button your shirt without shaking hands, to zip your jeans without breaking down. They will cage you in sympathies for a month, or two. And then, they will tell you to move on. Get over it. Wear something pretty. Get out. Go on a date. They will have forgotten that your body is a burning tree, a tornado, a hurricane drowning you from the inside. They will tell you that your too pretty to be so sad. Your skin is soft. They know just the guy…They will not see your flames. They will not see your blaze and ruin. They will not see. 
What they don’t tell you is that people expect the details. As if whatever horrors have been committed require justification. They will want to know: Where did they touch? How did they touch? How old were you? Were you drinking? What did you do?  Did you fight back? Where are your marks? Did you scream? Did you tell him no? Did you…?
They will want to know why it wasn’t your fault. They will pretend to ask questions under the guise of sympathy. You will hear them asking in the underlying pause, in the raised eyebrow: convince me why you are the victim. And, you will begin to ask yourself the same question. Did I do something wrong? Did I lead them on? What part of me was saying “attack me?” You will begin to doubt yourself. You will begin to believe that it was your fault. And so, you will tell no one. Or, maybe you tell people and they don’t believe you. They tell you to keep your truth to yourself. They tell you to keep quiet. They know who hurt you and they are silent. And their silence confirms your belief that everything was entirely your fault. 
——-
I have wanted to write this post about self-healing for a long time, but have never felt quite capable of finding the words to write it. I used to think that good self-care required an end goal: healing. And healing, of course, meant that I would come to a place of complete zen where nothing could hurt me anymore. Hah. Needless to say, I’ve changed my mind about my definition of healing. However, I’ve amended it to the following practices: 
1. Be intentionally committed and present in, with and for the journey in its entirety
(show up for the process)

2. Notice my surroundings
3. Refute and name the lies
These practices probably sound easy, but being intentional with each step can be extremely exhausting, frustrating and overwhelming. 
The first step (although, lets be honest – all of them are hard) remains one of my hardest challenges. Staying committed to a journey that is often tumultuous, difficult, sometimes lonely, often painful and extremely intense often requires difficult truths. It means sticking with the highs and the lows; and naming my own questions and doubts while continually analyzing lies that I have believed about my own self-worth. This becomes particularly painful when these lies have only been compounded and reinforced by my community. 
I am a super Type-A type of woman, and I like to have control. For me, part of the process is letting go of control and just showing up; listening; affirming;  unlearning and being. 
Sometimes it is just saying something as simple as “today, I am going to __________ the process.” I usually use words like “listen to/be okay with/enjoy/feel, etc” And then, I step back. Self-care isn’t always about the destination (though, we all want to get there), but sometimes, I think that maybe process is the most important part. 

Sometimes the process takes me outdoors.
Image result for nature
Used from pexels.com, free photo stock. 
Sometimes the process feels a little rough
OBX 2014

But, try to find peace in the process. 

Life is always shifting, dynamic, intense and wildly unpredictable. But go your own speed.

Today, I affirm my own strength. 
Today, I am proud of who I am. 
Today, I made it. And, I will make it tomorrow. And the next day. 

I’m not sure that I think that healing is a end destination. Maybe instead it is something that we are all continually aspiring towards: becoming more whole, living more holistically. Perhaps, even healing doesn’t always require forgiveness. (Dangerous thought!) Or, maybe it doesn’t require forgiveness in the traditional sense. My journey has meant learning to forgive myself for not loving myself more kindly; for not being more gentle with myself; for not owning myself more completely. This journey has meant unlearning the lies about myself that I believed and it has meant unlearning the lies others want me to believe as well as learning to set and keep boundaries. 
This healing doesn’t mean that tomorrow, I won’t feel like I’m at square one. Sometimes, it does that. You feel like you have had all this progress and then something shitty happens and you feel like a basket case. I’m not convinced that healing doesn’t let that happen. But, I think that for me, knowing how I can not get stuck in some of the lie traps during those times feels like a damn good place to start.
 

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