Where does a healer go to heal?
That has been the question floating through my mind these past few weeks as I move through this slow and shifting land of grief.
5 weeks ago felt like an unclimbable mountain waiting to be climbed. 4 weeks, a desert waste with no relief in sight. 3 weeks, a constant sweep in and spit out by the mercurial ocean. 2 weeks, an endless lake of sadness ever stretching. 1 week, frost, icicles and numb.
This week, I feel like the solitary hermit, crossing a star graced desert to seek the path of enlightenment. Death will make you consider matters of the spirit in a nature not previously experienced before.
The odd things about right now is that I am the one who is usually turned to for sage advice. The words that fall out of my mind and into these lines are often ones that others consider deep and healing. I have an innate ability to intuit, empathize, and stay present with someone in their pain without flinching, and just support through it.
I have made my livelihood off of these gifts- I went to school long enough to be called Psychologist, but mostly consider myself a Healer and Intuitive who uses psychology as a vehicle to offer these gifts.
I out pour often. Usually involuntarily when Life moves me to write or speak or connect with someone. I’ve done it so long that I do this rather effortlessly, so I have been faced with the sticky dilemma these last few weeks regarding- what do I need to do to in pour back into myself during this exhausting time of deficit.
Where do we go when something so vast has been taken from us and day to day becomes a struggle of spirit, yet we are the ones others would turn to if they were in this space?
I was faced with the almost comical situation this week of being the guidepost to teach others how to support someone in grief. I hesitantly went to a goodbye dinner for a friend leaving the state- I say hesitantly, because right now groups and loud restaurants and large gatherings of people feel like I’m crossing a haphazard field of land mines, trying not to step wrong.
It’s exhausting, and despite my best efforts, I step on one anyways and end up feeling hurled back into the void of loss, reminding me how different my reality is from most others at present.
After an hour of nobody saying a word about what is most imminent in my mind- my brother is gone– someone finally asked how I was doing.
It’s embarrassing to cry at restaurants. But at least its real. However I have few emotional control skills at the moment, especially the evenings, and it is hard for me to contain and mop myself up. Which is good to be able to do in public when you are at risk of sobbing uncontrollably, screaming, and/or sprinting from the room.
But I did my best and tried to share honestly from my heart in this overcrowded space of alcohol, bread baskets and easy frivolity. And while it was good to speak of what is Real, find truer connection with others, and be honest, I also found myself caretaking:
Giving advice on not being afraid to ask someone how they are doing, because even though you are afraid you will somehow make it worse, somebody they love is gone. That’s what is worse. And you cannot make that worse, worse. So go on ahead and say something. Even if you feel awkward.
Talking about how our society sucks with death, having no rituals outside of the memorial service, to honor those who grieve. Leaving the griever feeling isolated and confused and crazy if they are without support resources.
Sharing how everyone looks to the griever for direction on what to do to support them. Except those who grieve can’t give you directions. They are too trying to find their way through the mapless space of griefdom.
While the conversation was enlightening and more authentic then pretending everything is okay, and I truly appreciated the spirit and intent behind it; I was also struck by a thought as someone told me how cathartic I am for people, how me being so vocal about my grief is helping others be more real, how my process helps give healing to others-
Yes, but where do I go for healing?
I need to be filled back up too.
Where does the healer go to heal?
I have always loved the Audrey Hepburn quote, As you grow older you will discover you have two hands, one for helping yourself, one for helping others. I’m drawn to it, because the more work I do inside myself, the more I have to give to others, and I know I’ve been called to give and help in this world.
It’s in my bone marrow and crosses my path even when I’m not looking for it. I couldn’t turn away from healing work if I tried, it’s so tied to my DNA. But there is a season for everything, and right now, I am trying to help myself. Seek my own healing.
I’m working on directing all that beautiful wisdom, love and support I have for others back into me. I take long, cleansing baths by candlelight and talk to the cosmos and let myself be supported by something bigger than I.
I sit with my therapist, also trained as a medicine woman, and let her gifts of mind and heart and medicine be a gift to me. I make plans to travel to Canada to a spiritual lodge where I’ve read great wisdom and healing abound. I go into the woods and speak to the trees and press my hands against the love of the earth.
I hug my loyal dogs and let my contrary cat sit on my lap and purr. I blurt out every thought on losing my brother to my husband, as we establish an ongoing dialogue that drops off and picks up over and over and over these last weeks. Like we are telling one another a story in bits and pieces. We pick up the thread each time we realize what comes next.
Mostly I cling to solitude. Solitude becomes my oasis where I gather my energy- waned by the excesses of grief- back into myself. And hold it close.
No– something so very hard for me to say starts to become necessary, because so much of my life is dedicated to showing up for others. Right now, I have to show up in my own life. Honor this solitary rite of passage. Be my own source of wisdom. Turn that beautiful love I give out, back in.
In closing, I will simply reflect something that is becoming achingly true in my heart in these times. It is the ultimate lesson on self-care, self-love, self-healing. On the importance of listening to your needs, and doing the only thing we can do in order to create space to nurture the needs of our soul, which is a job that nobody can do for us, but us.
Sometimes you have to say no to some things, even beautiful lovely things, in order to say yes to yourself.