Unboxing the Healing Process

Our individual healing journeys are never like anyone else’s. They’re not part of the typical life plan – things like go to college, get married, have kids. Our journeys are a venture into uncharted territory.

And it can be intense at times. On my own path, I often try to make sense of it all. Sometimes it seems like there’s no progress, and I question whether I’m doing it “right.” But there’s no textbook to healing and feeling and growing through things, so I have to simply trust that if I’m doing anything at all, then that is what’s right.

For me, it seems that wounds open at a continual pace that I have no control over. I imagine these places as wooden boxes tucked deep inside my core. Each box contains a memory, event, relationship or some form of pain that needs my attention and love. So I open that box, shake out its contents, and figure out how to sort through and deal with its reality. Sometimes I laugh. Sometimes I cry…and cry…and cry. I do the work I feel is best for this box and just when I think I’m ready to make peace with it, return its contents, close it, and declare the work done, I realize the next box is waiting with its lid wide open. I’m one box deeper and facing what’s inside, whether I’m ready or not.

Again, I do the work. I laugh. I cry. I learn new ways to have compassion for myself. I learn new tools to help me navigate this world. And before I feel ready to place the content back into its rightful box—when I’m still feeling fragile and raw and vulnerable—once again, I’m thrown deeper into the next.

All the contents of the previous boxes are still floating in the space around me as I continue unboxing these integral pieces to my healing journey.

In a society built around structure and rules, it didn’t make sense to me to continually be going deeper and deeper on this path without closing each box. I wanted to wrap each one with a golden bow of completion, reach some sort of resolution before moving on to the next.

Sometimes rules are meant to be broken. Boundaries exist, and most of the time they are healthy, but sometimes they can actually hinder our growth. When I reflect on this philosophy in regards to healing, I began to understand this process. Healing parts of us that run deep—parts of our being that are so engrained in us—is messy.

It takes no specific shape or form and follows no rhyme or reason. And as much as it sometimes feels chaotic or unstable, it is unfolding perfectly imperfectly, with all the contents of that box seeming to float randomly about. In the grand scheme of things, with a little bit of faith and a sense of humor, these pieces will align, just as the stars did into constellations, revealing my own truth.

These boxes to me are stacked the way they should be, even though I’m not sure why. And maybe their contents don’t need to be neatly or intentionally returned to their place, wrapped up and topped with a bow. Maybe just the fact that each box and its contents—that each layer is revealed at all—is what the real work is. Maybe the bow is just a metaphor for being granted the strength, courage and choice to continue on.

That is the conclusion that gives me comfort in this process and gently lets me know that, yes, I am doing it “right”.