The summer before her junior year in high school, my sister, Jewel, had corrective surgery on her jaw for an under bite. The surgeon broke her jaw, pushed it forward, and wired it shut for several weeks. To stabilize the bones in her mouth, they took a piece of bone from her hip and attached it to her jaw. Brutal, right? It most certainly was. Liquid diets, jaw/facial pain, missing school, holed up in our Granny’s old school bed…tragic. One thing resonates in my memory though. As my sister’s wounded hip began to recover, the anesthetic wore off. Consequently, the nerve endings in this area began to wake up. Tingling at first, then prickly, then full on throbbing. The real irony is that this excruciating process was one of healing. What the…?!! It’s true. And in the same manner, for many of us, healing just friggin’ hurts. Just like Jewel’s hip, anything that has been wounded, cut off, ignored, and rendered numb or traumatized will hurt as it endures the process of being brought back to life. It is incredibly painful to confront the places and spaces where we have been hurt. Re-learning love, friendship, trust, and risk requires an honest self-reflection that opens old wounds, pricks at the scar tissue on our hearts, awakening the ghosts of our past.
“Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn’t you – all of the expectations, all of the beliefs – and becoming who you are.”
~ Rachel Naomi Remen
Releasing the destructive ghosts of expectations has proved one of the hardest obstacles for me to overcome in my journey to heal. From “good mom,” to “good wife,” and everything in between, unfounded and unrealistic expectations are a dark and haunting force in our lives. They are a damn trick bag. I will never meet these expectations, because they are unattainable. There, I said it. My personal best IS the best. In fact, it’s the muthaf@c$in’ bomb. Not just accepting that ethos, but subscribing to it in my daily life was the tipping point in taking my first step to facing the pain. Yes, support and affirmation from homegirls, friends, and family can make an enormous difference. But you, my love, drive this process…YOU are the gatekeeper to healing. Why, you ask? Because for all of the gifts your soul was afforded upon creation, it is your choice, your will to tap into, release, and share those gifts with us, your eager community of love, that is the difference between being alive and really living. Yes, our pasts, dysfunctional grooming and trauma cloud and stagnates our gifts. But you do this world a disservice by not fighting to uncover and find them. I may not know you, but I know my life will be enriched by your unique voice and gifts. And trust me; I need all the soul food I can get.
So, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and be brave. Process the pain of the past, so you can enjoy the gifts of the present, and unlock the blessings of the future. I bring my scars and shame to the collective table and commit to do the work with you.
Next week, we will get into my personal healing balms. My hope is that you will share some of yours as well.