Healing – Article by Veronika Foer

First published on 6th of August 2020 for Collective.casa

Healing: starting from scratch without starting from scratch.

We never know, what will happen next. 

We never know, if we will still be here tomorrow, or if someone else will.

And, we never know how we feel about something until we feel it.

Life is almost as if you are reading your favourite book. Every page consumes you, but in order to read on you have to turn the page you have just read to reveal what happens next – most of the time, we turn the page mindlessly: one motion, to keep the story in motion. 

Even when we choose to hold the pen and write our own story, instead of just reading it we have to keep turning the page, and cannot go back to rewrite passages: Every single day in our life is like a page, too. And every 24 hours, we have to turn it.

Eventually, without meaning to and without expecting it, we cut our finger as we turn the paper. There is that sound; that feeling of slow-motion; we see it happening but we can not stop it. It is but a split second and all we are left with is the damage to look at. 

Our finger has been cut: we are hurt.

  – The Disaster Unfolds –

The disaster is going to be different every time. Sometimes the red spills fast, drops onto the page where it leaves a mark. Other times, it takes a moment or two to become visible even though we can already feel the wound. And, the only cure? Time. 

For we cannot dictate our skin to heal, cannot tell the cut to disappear. 

But what we can do is patch it up: protect it from anything which threatens to infect it or tear it open again. 

Oftentimes, a wound will heal without giving it a second thought; eventually, we will forget it has ever been there…but there are also wounds that sting with every movement, which take ahold of our every thought. 

A gentle reminder of the fact that we have been hurt – that we are hurting.

 A reminder which evokes desperation in us to heal – but leaves us feeling hopeless, as days and weeks drag on and we still feel the sting. Maybe it has faded into a subtle feeling, but maybe it began to consume us as we let ourselves fall into it. For moving forward felt impossible. And we longed for movement. Any kind of movement: even when it meant falling.

At least, we are not stuck anymore, right? 

Falling means crashing. Breaking into pieces while still being one. 

“One” – the hurt belongs to us, just as our body and soul do.

But is it breaking us or reshaping us? 

Hurting makes us start from scratch without starting from scratch.

Feel the hurt and acknowledge it but keep moving, whispers time.

Let it go and take the lessons, whispers the ache. 

Reinvent yourself, whispers the hope. 

Start again without a blank page; instead, you have got an outline of experiences, an outline of situations to avoid, or advice on how to handle future aches in this very chapter which you decide to end by turning the page and beginning a new one.

Hurting and healing fuels our intuition and fuels us to become better. Even when the latter might feel out of reach as ‘healing’ seems to be. 

But just as our skin heals, we heal too. We only prevent ourselves from healing when we pick at the wound, tear it open again, put it in places where we risk infections – we could be reaching for sugar, only to find it’s salt, and we only find out when our cut skin has reached for it, and it burns and stings and we made a mess when all we’ve had to do is protect it and keep it away from these places.

And this kind of salt can have many shapes and forms; such as liquor with a high percentage, drugs which numb us, people we know are not good for us; the ones we come back to because we do not believe to deserve better. 

Sometimes it is not as much about finding a ‘cure’ as it is about protecting yourself and setting new boundaries such as learning to say no to people we used to hold dear to our heart, yet see their actions towards us with more clarity and see they do not have the best intentions for us. We learn that no job or money is worth bending ourselves for and, that lovers can be devoid of love.

We are living with an ache, but we are living. And the ache fades by making sure we protect it and care for us in the best possible way, even when its as small as enjoying a hot cup of tea, a bubble bath, a healthy meal, putting on soothing music as we do nothing but listen to it, turning off our phone for an hour or two, picking up a book, picking up a hobby we have long forgotten about, making art for the sake of making art and not for it to be or look a certain way; simply creating for ourselves, or spending time with our loved ones, even if we can not get ourselves to laugh or talk a lot, even when we sit in a corner observing: their presence alone can make us feel good, and gives us glimpses of a life that we are slowly but steadily returning to in our own time and pace.

Healing does not require an apology from the ones who hurt us. It does not need paragraphs of explanations either, it does not need an instant cure or a dictating voice telling us to move on. 

Hurting in itself is a promise of healing; when one happens, the other is not far. 

Just as it is with high’s and low’s; if we rise, we will fall again. Vice versa.

So all there is to do, is take care of ourselves in every single moment. And when we are breaking, we have got to allow ourselves to break down, cry, live the hurt out just as we would live out our joy of good news. It is merely another emotion demanding to be felt, not be bottled up or avoided only for it to chase us. 

When it feels as though we and everything we thought to know has been stripped from us and we are left with nothing but that one feeling of hurt: We get to start from scratch, without starting from scratch: we exist, everything we knew feels as though it has been taken from us, so we begin to rediscover the ordinary. We begin to find happiness; and even if not happiness, we will find comfort in peace; such as sitting in nature, cleaning our room, preparing food; Things we had done mindlessly before, even taken for granted, soothe us.

We learn to focus inward; slowly beginning to retrace the steps of who we used to be, and letting the traits and thoughts, and people we do not associate with ourselves anymore pass us by like clouds to make space for the person we want to be. I say like clouds; for we know they are there but they do not affect us anymore, and if they ever decide to rain on us again – we will open an umbrella, or laugh as we move through the rain free of any worries, for we have been there before but learned how to handle this very situation or person when we healed.

The reinventing begins when we protect ourselves and set boundaries that do not allow people to use us or do with us as they please. 

We have got to learn that we deserve to be loved, and that we are allowed to love ourselves and that ‘i love you’ does not lose its meaning when it is said with tears in our eyes, or written in messy handwriting. 

You are loved, and you deserve to be loved respectfully.

And one day…as you are healing you begin to dream again, of places and people you would like to experience. Of careers and of adventures you want to explore; knowing you deserve to and get to do it with a new set of boundaries and a new sense of appreciation for life and gratitude for the smallest of things, which most do not even pay attention to. 

Whatever happened to you, whoever hurt you; the injustice, the aching, the hurting: you deserve non of it, and yet sometimes it finds its way into our life through situations and people for us to, ironically, stop belittling ourselves; to step into our power and learn how strong we are. 

Whatever happened to you, whoever hurt you: You will heal. You will find, that you have grown from it all, that you deserve better, and not to become bitter over it. You become an inspiration for others, a light and warmth for those in the cold; for you would not want anyone to go through what you had to when you were hurting. Our compassion grows.

And those people who hurt you, who harmed you: leave them behind; leave it to their concessions to make them realize they have hurt someone. Hurting and healing are far more gentle than carrying guilt around. And most of the time, it will seem as though they might never be aware of what they have done or they simply do not care: but that is the thing with guilt, one day it is going to wake them up in the middle of the night when you have long moved on. Guilt is a shadow, catching up in time.

But that is their burden to carry, not yours. A burden for them to resolve, and find back to their light eventually.

Forgive them, forgive yourself. Just know doing others wrong always has a bill to be paid at some point. Maybe not immediately after, but it is going to catch up to them, to us. So, forgive and do good wherever you go, do not begin to act out of bitterness or revenge; act out of love, always.

Forgive them but keep them out of your life. One thing I have learned the hard way: if someone crossed a line once, they will not be afraid to do it again when temptation calls. Simply wish them well, let them be indifferent to you, as you water your garden which you have grown from the dirt they left you in, and enjoy it all blossom around you but do not open the gate for them again.

Hurting and healing; I know it is not easy to hear, but with time, we will find we have grown from it and became stronger. We are able to connect better with people, who have felt similar pain, we get to uplift each other even more because pain teaches us a greater depth of being compassionate, we get to see the beauty in the small things, we get to feel gratitude for the ordinary and, for the quiet and the unspectacular. 

You learn to enjoy sunshine differently, the cool breeze and the stillness will give you bliss; and know, there will be another storm, but this time you will be more prepared.

And then, it all begins again.

Starting from scratch without starting from scratch. 

– Veronika Foer

(featured picture by @yannickoetter)



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