non linear path of healing

"It seems that you have some more healing to do," my coach said to me during our session. 

I made an audible noise of frustration, feeling like this process would never end. I have been "healing" since I was 19. I will turn 29 in September, which means that I have been doing this for 10 years. Sometimes it feels like nothing has changed. Like I am still the same exact person with the same patterns. But it is so easy to be blind towards our own progress. The reality of things are that I am very different than I was 10 years ago. Or rather, I am so much more of myself now than I was. 

The funny thing about healing is that it doesn't happen in a linear fashion. It is so often two steps forward, one step back. Or five. A turn here, and then many circles, round and round. Something will feel like it's gone, only to then return in an unexpected way. Triggers occur randomly. Someone says something and you feel like a teenager again. A pattern resurfaces. You feel fearless for months, even years, and then suddenly you are consumed by dread. Happiness is consistent, until it escapes you. Things feel messy, both on the outside and the inside. 

My relationship to my body is a good example of this. For what feels like forever, it has been a consistent source of anguish for me. I have a history of eating disorders and although I was able to put the physical symptoms to rest, the mental voices lingered for years. In order to heal this area of my life, I have done SO much work. And it has helped, little by little. None of it has felt easy. In fact, it is one of my greatest challenges. And while it may sound self obsessed or like a "first world" problem, something in my brain turned my body into a prison. Trauma got trapped and translated into my physical form needing to be different. And the pain that it caused was enough to leave me not wanting to be on the planet. 

Over the past five years, I would have periods of feeling ok. Not great, but good enough to where it wasn't a daily struggle. I could get dressed and not hate my reflection. And then something would shift. The battle in my head would start again. I would up my workouts and try to stay away from cookies. Dressing rooms and beaches soon became off limits. Bikinis were a no, even if I was just among close girlfriends. Back at home, I would eventually slink to the floor and break down in tears. My best friend would try to console me as I cried about wanting to be free. 

The only thing I felt consistent about was inconsistency. But what I did notice is that the stretches of being ok were starting to get longer. Like in Italy last summer during a women's retreat in Tuscany. During a challenging beach outing, the retreat leader pulled me aside and wouldn't let me go back to the house. Instead she insisted that I go to the natural hot springs and promised not to leave my side.

"Do you trust me?" she asked while squeezing my hand. 

Even though I didn't know her that well, I did. The rest of the afternoon was spent under the sun, laughing and enjoying. We ate fresh watermelon from a bowl that cruised through the water and put healing muds all over our bodies. This woman has since become a dear friend and is such a beautiful champion of humans. Her name is Jen Pastiloff and if you have a chance to go on one of her retreats, you will not regret it. They are magic! 

For the rest of my European summer, I was able to let go. I ate whatever I wanted in joy and found comfort in my skin. Days passed by with a gentle ease. It was the freest I had ever felt as an adult in my body. Upon returning home, it seemed like I was finally at the place I had always wanted to be. And then a few months later, it came back. For me, I have a fantasy that I will wake up one day and be fixed. That there will be no more bumps to make me feel off kilter. It's sort of like wishing that one day there will be no more bills to pay. As long as we are alive, there will always be things to attend to. Challenges to help us grow. 

Today I have done even more healing around the body issues. While there are stills ups and downs, I feel more whole than ever. It has taken 10 years. Slowly I am learning to view my body as the wondrous vessel that it is. I recently took my clothes off for a photographer and it felt really easy. The other day I tried on a pair of pants and found that they were pretty tight. I laughed as I buttoned them and then left the house. To me and my past self, these are miracles.

If you find yourself with an issue that feels like it won't shift, stay steady. Everything has its own timeline and way of surrendering. Our responsibility is to accept, allow and make the necessary changes. The scariest of actions usually lead us to the biggest results. So keep going. Don't give up. And trust that even when it doesn't feel like it, you are healing. 

Photo: Lani Trock

Kenna Conway