That time would heal all wounds, and that healing would move in a linear line, with a positive slope. I thought there was a broken version of me and then a fixed version of me, with a clear divide between the two. But healing isn’t like that. Healing doesn’t occur on a timeline and often doesn’t have a distinct ending. Most of the time, healing happens in increments, little by little each day. And some days and months you will feel more stagnant, and other months you will feel more in motion.
On the harder days of healing, you will feel like you are swimming against the current. You will search for answers that may not actually exist. You will feel lost and alone and unsure of yourself, and you will inevitably worry that you are backtracking or sliding back down a slippery slope to where you started.
But you aren’t.
Healing isn’t black and white. It goes up and down, and you have to have the downs in order to make progress. You have to be able to work up from them and continue to take care of yourself even when healing feels hard. Even when you feel like you are drowning. You have to realize that healing can be ugly and messy. It can be heartbreaking and sharp-edged and painful. But it will also have those moments when you feel light again like everything is okay.
You will feel free and open and full of hope. And when you have these better days, you will notice the sunshine on your back and the stars above your head. You will notice the people who love you. You will feel supported and loved, and much less alone. You will feel as though you are capable of healing. And these are the moments that you need to hold tightly to. For these are the moments that are going to help you find your way.
Healing takes time.
And oftentimes, healing happens when it wants to happen. Healing happens in the depths of the night when you’re lost in dreamland, and at 1 am when you toss and you turn and you just don’t know how to comfort yourself. Healing happens when you read a poem that moves you just so, and you are suddenly crying on your bed. Healing happens when you are taking a walk all alone, all by yourself, and you remember everything that is missing, everything that hurts, and you feel so much at once that you can barely catch your breath. Like a stabbing in your chest, it all hits you at once.
Healing happens when you are driving and here a sad song on the radio, and your heart hurts. Your body feels heavy. Your mind hurts and your head hurts. And healing happens when you wake up in the morning to your alarm clock, and all you want to do is go back to sleep. When you don’t feel prepared to face the day. When you would give anything to stay in your cozy pajamas, safe in bed.
Healing is pain but it’s also joy. Healing happens the very first time a genuine smile expands across your whole face, and in all the times after that, you smile or laugh or feel some spark of contentment within you. Healing happens when you watch your favorite tv show by yourself and giggle out loud. Healing happens when you want to go to brunch with your best friend and eat waffles and drink coffee and talk about everything that is good in life.
Healing happens over time. It happens quietly and delicately, and it repeats itself, over and over again. Sometimes it moves very slowly, but it is continuous, it never ends. So you have to be gentle with yourself and gentle with the process. You have to have faith that you will start to feel better, and that this world has something better in store for you. You have to be patient, and you have to trust yourself that you are brave enough to heal. That you can do this. That you will breathe again.
Healing is not linear. Healing is not easy.
It is painful and tolling. But each day is progress. Each moment is a little bit better. Some moments will be harder, a little bit more trying, but you will get there. Your strength and your courage will stay long after the hurt. And although you may always have a scar, you will not always be hurting. You will not always be in pain. The scar will become a reminder of how you bravely survived, of how you courageously continued to move forward. The scar will become a sign of how gracefully you healed. Of how beautifully you continued to exist despite the pain. So hold on…pain ends. Healing will happen. Just give it time and patience, and look for the beauty that is still all around you.