Many of us are in search of some kind of healing in our lives. What we’re trying to heal from may even be ambiguous. We know something in our world is not quite as we would like it to be, and in some cases, it may be holding us back, but we struggle to pinpoint what exactly seems out of place. For others, what you’re seeking healing from may not be ambiguous at all. You may have already named it, tried hammering away at it and taken some steps towards what you consider or feel to be progress. And for many, even after chiseling away bit by bit, whether you feel you have effectively identified what you wish to heal from or not, you may still have had or continue to have moments of frustration or anger along the way accompanied by some expression akin to, “I’ve already dealt with this! Why can’t it just be over?”
Perhaps it could be helpful to take a look at the concept of healing to help us understand why the healing journey can be challenging, ambiguous, frustrating, and at times, even confusing.
Socially, healing is often conflated with “cure.” In certain instances, that may be accurate. When you go to a medical doctor and say your body hurts, you’re probably looking for whatever will cure your pain - make it go away! But even for medicine, this conflation is limited as there are chronic health conditions and other ailments that are not curable, at least in modern medicine’s current capacity. When we think of therapy, it can be important to challenge any notions that you might be cured of whatever you’re seeking healing from, because a cure implies there might be some return to “normal,” and fundamentally, normal doesn’t actually exist. You, if even imperfect and in need of healing, are worthy as you are and normal is not actually a standard of well-being, but society’s way of telling you what is “acceptable” so that others remain comfortable.
In fact, there will likely not be a return to normal or some pre-affected state. Perhaps the metaphor of a wound would be helpful. Even a flesh wound does not return to an unblemished state after healing. Wounds scar, they change the skin forever, and while there are creams and lotions you can slather yourself up with - scars rarely fully disappear. And yet, while wounds do not return to their original state, there is still healing that happens and the scar is evidence of that healing.
All of this is to say that whatever healing journey you might be on, perhaps grief may be the perfect companion in the process. After being wounded, it may be completely impossible to be as you once were. While difficult, grief is not inherently despairing. What your healing journey might ask of you is that you mourn who you once were, it means we must lament what has been changed, lost and what might never be recovered. We must mourn these losses and their impacts on our identity. We must mourn who we may no longer be, making way for who we might become in the process of healing. And while it sounds sad, and indeed there may be sad moments, this process is a process of hope. It is hopeful because while you are not who you were, you also may not yet be who you will become. And who you might become is up to you to be determined and can be creatively imagined and pursued in the healing process.
This month Looking Glass Counseling is proud to support Hope Floats. Hope Floats is a bereavement and educational center for adults, children, teens and their families who are grieving, dealing with illness or facing other life challenges. Their free support services bring hope and healing to those in need for a variety of losses, helping children, teens, and adults cope with their grief in healthy ways in a safe, confidential setting. The support groups are led by trained peer facilitators who often have shared experiences.
Jon Wisdom is a student at Boston University in a dual-degree program. He is working toward a Master of Divinity as well as clinical Social Work specializing in Trauma and Violence. Previously he worked as an interfaith hospital chaplain and holds a masters degree in Spiritual Care. Jon has pursued this integrated learning with the hope of working with queer individuals with religious trauma. As a queer man, he knows this is a complex issue that requires a lot of existential exploration which can be personally challenging.
In practice, Jon prioritizes affirming and patient-centered care. He uses modalities such as Phase Oriented Trauma Treatment, Motivational Interviewing (MI), Solution Focused Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), narrative approaches, psychodynamics and operates with an anti-oppression framework. His goal as a therapist is to provide space for his clients to come as they are and for them to know that they have inherent worth and value.