Things always look so different from the outside…
I was struck by something recently. A client during a retreat mentioned, as we were sitting down for dinner, that she imagined that we must live lives that looked like this every night. The candles and ambiance and peace that inevitably comes with a day of r&r seemed to match the vision she had for the private lives we lead.
Not more than a week later I had an ego moment that resulted in someone close to me thinking they didn’t know me, that my actions were so contrary to what they thought they knew of me that it made them think they didn’t know me at all. Which is probably the most cutting insult I could receive as someone who aims to live a life of authenticity.
Those two experiences couldn’t have been more different – one under the impression I live a perfectly zen life each day and the other insinuating something much different but both left me with the same question: what kind of impression am I leaving people with that they don’t see what’s underneath?
I think it’s an easy misconception for those of us in the healing field to look like we have it all together all the time but the truth is, no one does. And the beauty and the curse of being in tune with the energy of everyone around you is that if you’re not careful, it’ll give you a great place to hide from the things about yourself that you don’t necessarily want to look at.
Knowing how to practice all kinds of self-care can be a double-edged sword. It is incredibly helpful for growth but it can also make staying in uncomfortable situations, ones that aren’t right for you, easier to bear. At least until they become so uncomfortable that your shadow self comes out to play and causes you to “act out of character.”
But the truth is, life is messy for all of us and trying to control the narrative by only presenting what other people need and hiding all the rest is an unsustainable way to live if it’s joy that you’re after.
People often see what they want to see and others, myself included, often only show what they want you to see too. The truth is I do live a life that I really love for the most part. But I didn’t just arrive here one day, happily and with a smooth transition.
I walked through a lot of fires, many of them that I lit myself, and waded through a lot of mud. LOTS of it. Things occurred in my life that I had no control over that left me feeling broken and many others happened as a result of my own hand, not knowing any better at the time. Do I share those stories often? No.
Life shaping circumstances are tricky that way. I never wanted mine to define who I was so I spent many years running from them, unaware that the resistance actually put that part of me in the driver’s seat the entire time. I felt like I was constantly putting out fires that I myself was starting and I was exhausted.
When I got tired of running, I had to face myself and more importantly, face what I was running from. So I did. I lit one giant bonfire and committed to walking through it, step-by-step. It was during this walk that I acquired all of the tools that I now teach in Holding Space. I had to wade through everything in my past so I could, in the words of my own teacher, “deal, feel and heal.” There were things I learned in graduate school that made some of these ideas and lessons a bit easier to digest, but overall, there was no other way to get where I am and to be able to lead others through their own fires than to really walk through my own.
Do I feel the need to share the details of my past? No. Does it mean that someday I might be more open about it? Yes. Does it mean that I don’t at times have peaceful candle lit dinners at home? No, in fact I’m having one tonight. Does it mean I live a perfect, on point, zen life every single day? Definitely NOT. And I issue an apology for giving that impression to anyone around me.
I do my best to do my best each day, to love myself and those around me the best that I can. So I get how that can portray an erroneous front. But here is what you don’t see – I make my “mistakes” or enter into my “lessons” the way I do everything – with precision and efficiency, I aim to hit it out of the park, even when it’s not coming from a planned, conscious place.
So how do I stay balanced? I accept that those growing edges are all part of the deal and I try, really hard, to listen to my intuition so I don’t end up making my mistakes bigger than they have to be. When I do fall down, when I ignore what I need to do or the conversation that I need to have and a fire ensues, I turn to my tribe.
I committed years ago to walking down this spiritual path and offering myself whatever I needed to pursue my purpose and find peace. So I have an amazing team of people around me that I turn to when I feel like the fire is a bit too strong to walk through alone. These are also people who hold up the proverbial mirror and call me out on my bullshit, which isn’t always an easy pill to swallow. But I welcome that now. I know that the temporary burn is always worth the growth found on the other side.
So that’s the short version of what it’s like to be a healer. I’m constantly learning and growing, meeting amazing people, leaning on my own tribe of healers to help me care for myself and then sharing what I learn with those around me. I’m not aiming for perfect but I am committed to growing, even through the most painful edges.
I think that’s what it’s really all about for the most part, finding a tribe you can lean on and learn from so you can then pass on and share what you have learned to those around you. Because in the words of my partner, “we are all just walking each other home.” Do the best you can, storytellers, and know that everyone around you is trying to do the same, because no matter what the surface looks like – we all have a story.