As someone on a perpetual betterment journey - for better or worse - I love a ah-ha moment.
I've had a few lately, one of them being the framing of healing.
I wrote a couple years ago about the concept of needing time to pass. I resent that stage of healing, however necessary it is. Some days, we just need time to pass.
I spent years in this phase, and moving across the world was a big piece of it. Time passed differently here - I don't know if it's slower or quicker, but it was different.
I read the other day that the third phase of healing trauma is re-connecting with ordinary life (more on that later). My ah-ha moment was realizing how unhealed I truly was. While I am in a much better space, so many things - big or small - would hit me with more gravity than I would consider ordinary.
The void I have tried to filled since forever has been not wanting certain things to be my story. Whether that was being queer, the abuse in sport, or how hard the reporting process affected my life. Anything I could do that was a better, more interesting, more successful story was worth pursuing.
That void, more than anything, needed and needs to be healed.
Since then, I have approached my life from a priority of healing. I know that success, passion, ambition, excitement - the things I feel I have lost in this process will return once I heal more. The idea of prioritizing the end goals, especially in terms of mental and physical health, over process goals simply will not work. Success, achievements, results will not heal me.
A couple things have changed. For the first four months I was here last year, I washed all of my clothes in the sink. There are a ton of laudrymats and I didn’t know how they worked, but I didn’t have the capacity to learn - or really potentially fail. How sad that is to write in hindsight is tough. I felt the same way with getting my visa again, and sorting out my apartment - the process felt so heavy and overwhelming, and if I failed, I didn’t know if I would have the capacity to pick up the pieces. That if it didn’t work, it would be some kind of major failure that I would take personally. Lately, when I frame things as an opportunity to heal - I do feel like I am supporting the person that didn’t have the capacity for so long. Telling the kids at training some funny thing that happened to be in my broken french and valley-girl Canadian accent heals the person who showed up to that gym last November and didn’t dare to speak for months. Showing up to a workout that I don’t want to do heals the person didn’t have the capacity to move their body, let alone prioritize fitness during a tumultuous time the last few years. Competing this weekend, at 30, at a level I’m not thrilled with, for fun, heals the person that filled their identity and void for 20 years with making teams, winning medals and not enjoying a single moment of the process.
During the holidays, I was so determined to get my shit together before the New Year - it did feel like this year would be different. I could never quite land on what the theme would be though - many things felt frivolous, and even more felt too vulnerable.
My word for the year, now, is healing. There is something about this perspective that takes away all of the external pressure and leaves the responsibility up to me - my focus is now inward, for the first time ever.
I don’t think I could have prioritized healing at any other point in my life. For many years, I would do therapy, do the work, and would have to turn it all off in order to remotely continue with life. It felt all consuming and I couldn’t handle the gravity. Whereas now, I am purposely bringing that into every little thing I do. It feels unfamiliar.
Healing always felt self-indulgent. I could heal when this (meaning what?) was all over. There would be a point where I could do that, but that time was never, ever now. It never occurred to me that healing could be a thing that could help me do things in life, rather than hinder or pause or all together stop them.
I think about this often in the context of sport - is the only reason I was good at sport because I was trying to fill this endless void in myself? My example, kindly or not, is Novak Djokovic. His competitiveness, obsession, and overall poor sportsmanship doesn’t seem to bother him, whereas Roger Federer seemed to have a more healthy perspective on being a champion. One seems to be filling a void, and one does not - while both being the pinnacle of tennis.
I am so curious what kind of person, and athlete, I am on the other side of this void. Instead of feeling like I will lose my edge or ambition in life or sport if I heal, what are the possibilities if I pursue my passions with a healthy head on my shoulders? I guess we will find out.