Life altering events can be difficult at the best of times. Even when we anticipate them, look forward to them and plan for them, it can still be challenging when they roll out. What about when something happens that permanently changes life in ways you would never want? Now that’s a whole other story! If it was a sudden and unexpected change, even worse. This just seems like Life hauling off and giving you a whopping sucker punch. It hurts; causes internal injuries to your heart and soul.
If it were the ribs, knee or any other physical part of the body that got damaged, no problem, off to the doctor we go, most of us willingly and without hesitation. If it is the psyche that takes the blow – the mind, soul and spirit – there is much more reluctance to seek help. Many of us do not ever even acknowledge consciously that we have been hurt. We bury it instead. Why is this?
There is still a shroud of shame and secrecy hovering around emotional “damage”. Vulnerability and human fragility generate fear. When unforeseen things happen that shatter life as we know it, it lights up these “weaknesses” like a blinking neon billboard. Deep down we all know that none of us are guaranteed immunity from life’s curve balls. We don’t like being reminded of that, whether one comes flying at us or we see one smack into someone else. So we close in, close down, stay quiet, maybe even try to appear the opposite to how we feel – strong. Perhaps it’s best to just get through it somehow; not sure how, but somehow. It seems better and easier to not talk about it.
We deserve more than that, and that is the importance of healing. We are whole beings, not a bunch of separate snap on parts put together like little plastic building blocks. We are physical, cognitive, emotional, spiritual beings with all four aspects intricately woven together to form a unique mesh that we call me. If one part of us is hurt, the whole is affected. When one part of us is not assisted to heal, our whole being suffers. True respect for ourselves grows out of an acknowledgement of our wholeness. Only then are we able to recognize that in order to care for ourselves we have to care for all of us.
When you skin your knee, your body instantly begins healing by constricting the blood vessels around the wound. It protectively tightens up around it but eventually the vessels have to open up again to let in white blood cells to ward off infection. Once everything has stabilized, new cells begin to grow and voila, new skin! There is a parallel process going on when an emotional wound occurs. When a radical adversity shakes your world right down to the foundation, one of the most common first responses is to close down. Recoiling is a natural protective response that kicks in like a reflex to keep us away from further harm. Shutting down is in no way a bad thing. It’s a useful, built-in strategy to keep us safe and allow us time to regain a sense of stability and security so we can start moving again.
Staying shut down – not so good! To do this we have to willfully shut life out but to heal we have to open up and let life in. We have to gently ease the constriction and start growing again in every way. When a blockbuster challenge runs into you along your way, you may feel capital “L” Life – that energetic life force that powers everything – has betrayed you. You may think it is cruel and unfair, but it is not. Life knows nothing of fair and unfair. These are human-made concepts and part of the deal of being human is that we all run the risk of having to face exceptionally difficult events, circumstances and situations.
Life is never cruel! Cruelty is having almost everything taken away and never having an opportunity for anything more to come. Life is a constant flow of potential with doors of opportunity showing up all along the way. To open them we first have to be able to see them. If we are lost in our pain and the past in which it occurred it’s very hard to see any doors. If we can’t trust Life and see ourselves as being in a benevolent and reciprocal relationship with it, they become invisible.
A life-changing adversity can be crushing. If you let it, the weight of it can keep you flat for a long time. Not much happens when you’re in that state. That is not what Life wants! It is in constant movement and it only has one direction – forward. Every living thing will have to face the end of life, yes, but the continuous cycles of endings and beginnings in the natural world tell us that everything necessary for regeneration and rejuvenation is built in to one harmonious system. This is often called the web of life, and although we too often act like we are separate from it, we are not. That means the capacity for renewal is built in to us too.
Life will never give up. It will keep coming at you with doors. Behind those doors it will give you opportunities to go far beyond where you ever thought you could. Make a commitment to your healing so you can take Life up on its offers. Go with it – it wants you to join its flow! It needs you for what you, and only you, have to give to make the world a better place. That’s important!