What Does Healing Really Look Like?

spring tree buds

Image copyright: 123rf/nicku

Coffee with a friend can be filled with unexpected conversations. Over my friend JK’s latte and my mint tea, she shared that she was very disappointed in herself.

JK had divorced many years ago. Her children were grown and lived out of state. She did not move in the same social circles as her ex, had not seen him in ages and was very busy enjoying the new life she created for herself. Her comment surprised me. Then she shared this story.

A few weeks earlier she and another friend were waiting to be seated at a restaurant when JK turned around and suddenly found herself face-to-face with her ex…and she froze.

She didn’t remember what she said or if she even said anything. She simply shut down. Her friend gently took her arm, guiding her as they followed the hostess to their table.

Once they were seated JK started to shake. “What just happened to me?  The divorce was over ten years ago. I’ve worked so hard to heal. I don’t understand. Am I falling back down into that awful dark hole? I’m terrified of going through the pain it will take to climb back out again.”

“No, you haven’t fallen down any dark hole and no, you don’t have to climb back out of anything,” her friend said.  “Your body was simply trying to protect you. It felt danger and went into a flight or freeze reaction. I’m glad it chose to freeze and not run out of the restaurant on this bitter cold afternoon!”

JK told me she laughed, took a few slow, deep breaths and her panic subsided.

Now, as she sipped her latte, JK said that she assumed once she healed, she would simply move on. But our bodies have long memories, and sometimes it takes more time than we realize to reassure ourselves we are safe.

We decided healing isn’t a package with a bow that you receive as a reward for the hard work you have done. We didn’t want to imagine healing as that smelly onion with all the layers that you keep peeling off while they make your eyes water.

We agreed that healing was an adventure, an exploration. Whether the new scenery we encountered was dark and frightening or shimmering with light, it would constantly challenge our perspectives and often take our breath away.

Reader Interactions

Leave a Reply