What is healing? For the past 5 years or so I’ve been on what I would call a ‘healing journey’. It’s a personal thing but it’s something I want to share with people as I feel it’s important and also it’s talked about very little and I don’t want to be afraid to talk about it. Quite often in our culture, the words ‘spiritual’ and ‘journey’ have that new agey flavour, which can put people off having anything to do with it, me included for a long time!
Coming from a rational, activist-type background, where everything is clear cut (i.e. what we’re doing is saving the world and what they are doing is destroying it) it took a long time for me to see that throwing myself into a good cause was not necessarily helping my own sense of personal freedom. I’m not saying people shouldn’t do it, it’s just that I was not personally resourced enough to and ended up always taking on too much and getting out of balance, even though I thoroughly believed in the work I was doing. This really threw me out of as I often blamed that on the work situation or the other people involved. When I started to look within for answers it was something I tried to discuss with friends but it’s so often seen as self-indulgent, I had my doubts about going there and whether anyone understood what I wanted to do. But the death of my sister and decades of depression and anxiety finally helped me stumble down the track of healing. It’s a solo trip.
So what is healing for me?
It’s a tough thing to pin down but I think it started when I asked myself “What am I most afraid of?” and once I faced that fear, an invisible door opened to an invisible world of invisible inner conflict and upheaval. No wonder I didn’t want to go there for decades!
It’s a bit like stepping into an unknown world alone, not knowing what’s going to happen. Familiarity is what was messing me up – being over-familiar with my negative thoughts and mind states, with my reactions to other people. It’s like I knew how things would turn out for me even before I started and those patterns were replaying themselves throughout my life in an endless echo chamber.
Healing is the bravest and most fulfilling thing I could ever have begun for myself – to bring awareness to fears and many things I turn away from is amazing, invisible work only I can experience and only I can gauge the difference between how I was before and after. In a world where achievement is so often measured using ‘external’ means (money, fame, power, success, things. All fine of course, nothing wrong with these, it’s just that we seem to often see only these things as a way to measure our own and others’ success), what I have achieved through ‘internal’ work is way more valuable to me! It helps me connect better with my family, have conversations I would otherwise be scared to have and be ready for new challenges and deeper connections I have always craved.
I’m not writing this to gloat or tell everyone how amazing I am (well, maybe I am a little, I am a human after all), but I know I’m writing this to appeal to anyone who feels that pull to a different experience of life – one that feels more connected, loving and free (in my opinion). For decades I really did not believe I would ever find it but with the love of Beth, my family and friends I am making my own way, in my own time. I’ve struggled with depression, grief, anxiety, very low self-esteem, even paranoia over the years and I would never say I am ‘healed’ but I am on a journey that continues to bring awareness to those parts of me I could not deal with before. At least now I accept myself, I love myself and I know I can live a life with love and feeling grounded as long as I keep in touch with those parts of me that need attention and care.
It’s been a trip cobbled together using many means – long periods of nature connection, sexual shame tools, mindfulness, dreamwork, physical exercise, meditation, conversation, therapy, psychedelics, work – and the will to keep going and forgive myself when I don’t feel like it or when I feel very stuck.
It’s a made up journey into unknown stuff and everyone’s trip is so different.
Now I can bring myself into the work I do in a more balanced way, knowing I won’t push myself until I feel burnt out and resentful and like the world doesn’t care and away from thinking that humans are the problem. I can make a better contribution now I’ve given myself some much needed attention and work – work which is always going on and will never end.But it’s so worth it and it’s worth sticking with it. We are all together in this, yet alone in this!
*Alan Creedon is a first time author at Book Hub Publishing. His debut book will be published this summer.