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The Healing Journey: Step 2

With a fancy title like that, I bet you think I've got it all figured out and am about to enlighten you with some knowledge that will magically change your life (or at least give you some direction on exactly what to do now that you've started your journaling practice--Step 1). But alas, you will be disappointed. I was going through my archives to share the link to my first blog on the topic (The Healing Journey: Step 1 if you want to start there), and thought to myself, "Okay, so what's Step 2?). I've been sitting here in my office for a bit now and the truth is, I don't know what it is.

Healing is a such messy work. It's a journey that never ends. It's complicated on the surface, and then when you get deeper, it complicates in ways you may think you'll never survive. Or you think you've moved on and are past the hurts and damage that was done, only to be thrown headfirst into a metaphorical volcano of PTSD responses eight years later when the whole country loses it's damn mind and elects a narcissistic sociopath to the highest office of government. I digress (I do this a lot if you're new here). The point is, the healing journey could also be called the Never-ending Healing Journey, but that just flat sounds discouraging. Nobody would ever want to start the journey at all.

But you're here. And maybe you've started your journaling practice, and you really are ready for Step 2. I don't want to disappoint you, but I think you might have to figure that out on your own. It's just too complicated. Each person, each situation, and each wound is different. Now before you get too discouraged, or stop reading, I'm not going to leave you hanging. I'll share some suggestions for sure. Maybe your Step 2 is seeking a therapist for the first time in your life. Maybe it's joining a support group in your area or adding yoga or meditation (nothing says you can't do both!) to your journaling practice. In fact, I think I will go ahead and tell you a Step 2: (How's that for a complete about face half-way through an idea?). Meditation. Add a meditation practice to your journaling--at the end. When you've finished journaling, close it up and just sit in silence for as long as you are comfortable (shoot for 5 min to start). Give yourself permission to just be in the moment. Let whatever thoughts you have come. Breathe. Remind yourself that you are worthy of this time. You deserve this space to exist and to feel.

Whenever I mention meditating, it's almost inevitable that someone will comment "I can't do it--I've tried. I can't ever keep my mind clear". The point of meditation isn't to clear your mind--you'll never do that (well maybe if you become a monk or something). Thoughts will always come. Meditation is sitting with the intention of listening. What comes up? Observe. Allow. Next thought. Grace. Compassion. Forgiveness. All for yourself and the past versions of you that did the very best they could to survive. So for those of you that need specifics, there it is. Step 1: Journaling. Step 2: Meditation.

I don't think I've written a blog yet that was such a perfect example of thinking out loud. Generally, I'll come up with a topic and have a pretty good idea of how it will go. This started as a "I don't have the answer because it's different for everyone" to "Meditate" as the answer. I started to go back and edit it a bit to keep it more consistent and decided against it. I think it perfectly demonstrates the challenges of what it's like. "There is no Step 2. It's long and hard and sucks. Here's Step 2".

The hard part of the journey can also be what's so beautiful about it: Everyone's journey will be different. There is no map that will magically get us all from gaping wounds to healed and whole in 10 easy steps (can somebody please work on this though?). If you're just starting your journey, journaling and meditation are great places to start. So are seeking mental health services or getting back into hobbies you've neglected for years.

No matter the cause of your wounds, or where you are in your recovery, understanding that it is a process and that it will truly never end can be both terrifying and liberating at the same time. Terrifying for all the obvious reasons but liberating because you don't have to get it exactly right right out of the gate. You have time to figure out what works, what helps, what triggers you, who safe people are and how to manage things that right now feel unbearable.

If you're reading this right now, I assume you're on your own healing journey of some kind (or you're in denial because we all are really). I want to tell you that I'm proud of you. It's hard. It may get harder. But it will also get better. Easier. And the hard (when it comes again) will be a little less hard, and the easy will be a little easier even. Keep going.

I'll try to figure out a Step 3 in the meantime. No guarantees.

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