Thursday, December 8, 2011

on healing and spirals...

Usually if I do a blog post on Thursday, it's a Thurday's thought - a quote (I LOVE quotes!). But this morning I woke up with these particular thoughts in my mind and I decided to blog about them today...

In my last post, I wrote about how I'd been under the weather. Well, this has turned out to be one of those sinus/upper-respiratory things where I'll start feeling better and then have somewhat of a setback... and then feel better and then have somewhat of a setback.

It's been aggravating because I really-really-really don't like not feeling well (for obvious reasons, and also for some deeply-rooted personal reasons).

And besides, I have things to do, dammit! I need to work on the Etsy shop, I need to be creating new things, I need to get content written for the new website, I need to work on the ebook, I need to do classwork and homework, I need to continue with decluttering and rearranging around the house, I need to freakin' clean the house...

But late last night, as I tried to stay warm in bed, I had a long talk with part of my inner self. I was reminded of some lessons to take from this experience (I need to truly rest more, for one thing, and honest-to-goodness do those self-nurturing things I know I should be doing... and there were some other lessons too because it really was a long talk.)

And I was reminded (reminded again, because this is something that has come up over and over for me) that healing is not a linear process. In my experience, with myself and many others, it's just not that simple or straightforward.

Healing - physical healing, emotional healing, mental healing, spiritual healing - is not usually an instantaneous and linear and one-time-for-good-forever event.

I like to think of myself as moving forward in a spiraling motion.

That's the way healing seems to me. And life.

It can circle and cycle back around, repeating some lessons, revisiting some issues, uncovering new layers... all in its forward progression.

This is one reason why the spiral is such a symbolic symbol for me. It's important to me for many reasons... but especially because, to me, it represents the path, the cycle, of life.

And the path, the cycle, of healing.

I've been doing self-work, self-healing-work, self-transformational-work, for a long time. Since my late teens (and I'll be turning 50 next week, so I'm talking a big chunk of time).

But my self-work turned up to high gear in the mid-90s when fear and anxiety took such a strong hold on my life that I became agoraphobic. I had to start working more intensely on healing if I wanted to have a life that involved leaving my house.

By the late 90s, I was no longer agoraphobic. But that time of agoraphobia revealed things to me that I still needed to work on - and that time of agoraphobia also left me with scars of its own.

Creativity helped get me through that time, and the years after. And so did learning all sorts of relaxation techniques, breathing techniques, yoga, meditation, mindfulness (back when not many people in my life were talking about mindfulness), CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) and changing thoughts and self-talk... and eventually there was energy work, chakra work, Reiki, aromatherapy, crystal therapy, sound therapy...

So many tools to help. So much in my medicine bag for life.

My healing path has not been a straightforward, linear process. It cycles back at times, returning to issues I thought I had dealt with... but revealing new layers, new perspectives, deeper wounds to face and heal.

And then there's the new stuff that comes up, life stuff, hurts and deaths and new issues that need to be addressed as the years pass.

Sometimes it feels like I take two steps forward and one step back - or two steps forward and three steps back - as I'm circling around, re-learning lessons, learning new lessons, being re-reminded of things I know deep inside my self.

Moving back around sometimes, moving in a direction that is not always forward...

Except - ultimately - it is forward.

I have always been drawn to the symbol of the spiral. But the phrase "moving forward in a spiraling motion" has been in my mind since I read a certain book about anxiety in 1998, and the phrase is what I keep coming back to when I start feeling discouraged or start thinking negative thoughts about myself when it seems like I'm having a setback or going backwards. When those thoughts of: I should be COMPLETELY OVER THIS BY NOW! start yelling at me. (whether this is physical or emotional or whatever)

Over the years there have been many, many, many books I've read about anxiety and fear and emotional wellness. The book that I thought mentioned healing as moving ahead in a spiraling motion is Journey From Anxiety to Freedom: Moving Beyond Panic and Phobias and Learning to Trust Yourself by Mani Feniger.

I pulled it from a bookshelf this morning and looked for the specific quote... and discovered I've been wrong all these years about the word spiral being involved. It's the same idea but not the same word (unless it appears elsewhere in the book).

My mind substituted spiral / spiraling... and it is symbolic for me... so in my mind, spiral /spiraling will still be what I use.

Here's what the book says. The author is quoting someone she worked with and interviewed:
"I don't even use the word setback," Claire told me, "because it has a connotation that something must be wrong. We all have different learning rates and a lot of things come into play. For me it is never really a step back, because I am never where I used to be. I have all this experience to draw upon. I feel like I am always moving forward in a circular kind of way."
Moving forward in a circular kind of way. Moving forward in a spiraling motion. My life tends to move like that. So does my healing path - healing in every aspect.

So as I deal with continuing to recover from my physical bug, I am reminded of this. And in being reminded of this, I am reminded to be kind to myself, and not beat myself up for not being totally well, and to give myself the time and the space for healing to take place.

To release and let go and let the spiral of life, the spiral of healing, do its thing.


  1. I too have to remind myself that life has this way of letting us know what it is we need to do in order to move forward. If we keep getting the "same lesson", we are not ready to move forward. We are all spiraling in our own time, our own space. Beautiful Post!

  2. Thanks for your comment! I feel like I keep getting the same lesson sometimes because I haven't yet learned what I need to learn (I can be stubborn about *not* wanting to learn certain lessons, I think!). And I find that sometimes the same lesson seems to come around again but it comes with a new or different dimension to it, another layer that's been peeled away, to teach me at a different depth this time. The path really is our own, though - just like you said, we're spiraling in our own time, our own space... and it can be quite a journey!