How to heal from some hard shit
I was thinking about healing.
Healing isn’t some esoteric bullshit with candles and incense and inspirational quotes.
It’s dirty shit. It’s sitting in your own emotional faeces and getting it all out. It’s about digging up the bodies you buried long ago and putting all the bones back together again and seeing where the bullet entered and if it exited cleanly.
And sometimes those fucking bodies you dig up are not even yours. They’re the bodies of your ancestors, your parents, your old friends, the people who handed your their wounds and asked you to heal them for them. No pressure, huh? FUCK!
I read an ancient medical text about scurvy on the ships during early explorer days. It explained that vitamin C is required to make scar tissue and to keep holding that shit together. If you do not have vitamin C, then your wounds reopen. The scars from deep within open and all that mess comes out again. So in a sense, we never really heal. We’re just eating oranges and lemons and trying to keep our shit tight and together.
Is there an emotional equivalent of vitamin C for scars? And don’t say Zoloft! What holds us together? How can can we keep our shit together when we are knee deep in it? How can we heal?
Don’t think about it when you’re in the middle of it
A friend said to me on the day her child was diagnosed with really shitty cancer, “How the hell am I going to get through this?” My answer was, “Just do everything as it comes up and a little bit before and don’t fucking go there. You can go there when it’s over and you know the outcome, but until then, your thoughts are not anything you need to be alone with yet.”
What’s the point of breaking down in the middle of the storm? You have to get out of there and crying and shaking your fist at the world daily isn’t going to stop the storm nor is it going to keep you safe from yourself. I did everything I could not to go there during my brothers illness. Daily visits to the hospital, 40 minute drive each way. I listened to so many podcasts, I was the most learned/ignorant person in the world. I did not want to think, or hear music or anything that reminded me of what I was going through. I didn’t need reminding. I was living it. I would weep and rail when it was over, until then, onwards.
Get some coping skills
Pop down to the shops and pick up some coping skills. If there aren’t any on sale then read a book on coping. Listen to a podcast on coping. Strengthen your skills and remember you are resilient. Think about everything you have been through in your life. This might be a clusterfuck of shit, but you know you can get through it with the right tools and skills. I listened to a lot of Tara Brach, who is pretty bloody great and smart. So smart.
Decide where you want to put your energy
When my Dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, I read several books by Pema Chodren. In one she writes, “Let it happen.” This phrase was what got me through watching my father die. As a beloved friend said to me, I didn’t cause it. I couldn’t change it. It was beyond my control. So I let it happen and I let him know I loved him and that was that. It was going to happen and I didn’t want to waste my energy on trying to change an outcome that was inevitable. When a friend’s father was diagnosed with cancer she spoke to her doctor as she was also going through treatment for her own cancer. Her doctor said, not unkindly when he recognised it wasn’t curable for her father, “Everyone’s parents die.” Let it happen. Decide where you’re focussing your energy and that’s that.
Take some time away from the shitfest
Trying to heal is difficult business. Once I was depressed. Like ugly sad, note writing depressed. Bad times, shitfest. As I waited for the cocktail of drugs to kick in, I used to go to the beach every morning with the dogs. It felt like nothing bad would happen at the beach with my stupid dog swimming out to Tasmania and the other one trying to eat a jellyfish. Nothing bad could happen there. It was my place of peace and untouched by the poop of life. 30 mins watching the sea, 30 minutes without worrying and anxiety, and phone calls. 30 minutes to start to heal. Find your place. It could be anywhere, but it is somewhere and it is your place to heal.
Spend time with people who get it
Those people who will not judge you when you are doing the ugly cry and who will also take the phone calls for you, who will ring you and see how you are, and ask the right question that cuts through the bullshit. The ones who know you can’t get out of bed, and who will walk your dog, both physically and figuratively, for you. Just being with someone who is oozing emotional vitamin C is healing in and of itself. I have a few people like that in my world. If you don’t have any, look for them. Be one for someone else. What goes around comes around.
Give it a fucking name. Is it depression? Death? Money worries? Drugs? Alcoholism? Addiction? Gambling? Shoplifting? Sex? Hatred of others or self? Fear? Anger? Shame? What is it called? If you don’t know what it’s called, then how can you heal? You need to know what the disease is so you can find the right medicine for it. Name it. I bet it’s not as bad as you think if you call your sex addiction Beryl. Fucking Beryl is back. Or your money worries - Horace. Horace has himself in some shit and I will have to try and help him out. Name it and you will see it’s not personal if it has someone else’s name.
And that’s my totally unqualified advice on coping and healing. All from personal experience of course. And in the end, it will end. And you will lose people and you will miss them and you will fuck up and you will hate yourself but you will get through it, because you can. I just know you can.