Q My father was verbally and physically abusive to me, my mother, and my brother. I was also bullied in school for years. I find it hard to be around people without feeling anxiety. I’ve had lots of therapy and I meditate for 20 or 30 minutes a day. But nothing seems to make the shame and fear I lived with every day as a child go away permanently. I’m about to retire from a successful career, but sometimes I feel like a failure at getting over my childhood. What am I missing about healing completely?
Kevin: If you’re missing anything, maybe it’s an acceptance that when it comes to the deepest soul wounds, we are never perfectly, finally, or completely healed. We are always healing. I hope you can continue letting your healing be not a destination at which you hope to arrive soon, but a patient, lifelong path.
When being with others provokes old wounds, it’s easy to assume you’re wounded and everyone else is fine. That’s because we compare the outside appearance of others to our inner awareness, which is usually a mixture of ease and dis-ease. This comparing our insides to others’ outsides can make us forget what Plato said: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
Healing includes letting our ongoing experience of being a wounded human being deepen our compassion for others. We need a spirituality of brokenness that allows our never perfectly-healed lives to be used for good. The Japanese broken pottery art of kintsugi (which means “golden repair”) might provide a good visual reminder of how your brokenness can become part of the beauty and gift of your life.
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