This post is part two of a transcribed podcast, "The Truth About Self-Healing and Healing Forward". The podcast is available on almost all platforms, to listen to the podcast now, click here: website iTunes Soundcloud.
First, I think we should begin by discussing what healing forward is not:
1) It is not competition
2) It does not exist in opposition to any other type or stage of healing
It's important that I mention these things first because the last thing I'd ever want to hear perpetuated is this notion of one type of healing being honored over another. Healing forward is not a step that is further behind or ahead of any other part of the healing process and it isn't necessarily a permanent state or action. You can be healing forward in one aspect of your life, but not necessarily in all aspects of your life. We might also heal in multiple ways when addressing one particular wound.
Mentioning healing forward at this specific time, is not intended to pacify any of the emotions that we, the larger Black community and allies of color are feeling. This is not asking anyone to meet me or a push to a particular stage of healing. If you are angry, use that anger. Healing only happens when you honor the truth and honor your emotions. I have been sad and I have been furious, and I will probably visit those emotions again. I have the right to do that, we have a right to do that. My only hope, is that we are blessed to find a way to channel all of our emotions and direct it where it needs to be directed to enforce change.
So, what is healing forward then?
It's truly a term I use to describe the part of healing that may require you to learn how to navigate through the world with your wound as it is forming into a scar, or how to navigate the world with a scar in general (I don't think we talk about this enough. We
approach healing as something to be completed and then there's this element of getting over something, when healing often times is an elongated process of which we simply learn how to move through it in the best and most healthy way). Sometimes, we're not sure how to move forward simultaneously while healing, or we are not sure how to carry our past in a way that isn't detrimental to our present. I think of healing forward as the "what happens after the awareness, acknowledgement, and acceptance", or "how do I navigate trauma when reminders resurface". It's the work that happens after we unpack. It's acknowledging our hurt, and when and if we're ready, deciding how we move forward with it and how we hold agency over the experiences derived from it.
Healing forward can mean healing while navigating daily life and it can also be deliberate in that you know you might be in a difficult stage, but make a decision to engage in other areas of your life still. For example, I hosted an event about anti-Blackness within Black immigrant communities during a time where the Black Lives Matter movement was intense. I was still grieving, but felt I had the capacity to address another pressing issue. There are no extra points for this, but I knew my capacity and honored it.
Healing forward is not "I'm healed and I'm moving onward or I'm over it". It's, "I'm healing while moving in a forward direction". It's acknowledging the cut on your hand and the point at which you're comfortable to write again, even though the wound is still there. It's continuing to write, long after the scar has formed and choosing how the scar will inform or not inform the words you choose to write on that paper.
The Guilt in Healing Forward:
Guilt is also another facet of healing forward. Healing in forward motion does not discount or discredit your past or trauma. Healing forward is not forgetting or ignoring what is happening or what has happened, it's choosing to co-exist. You can have and find joy in these times and honor it. We are multi-faceted human beings with an array of emotions and feelings, joy in this moment doesn't negate your grieving in another moment.
There exist at times a shame around moving forward with life too soon or too happily after a death, after a break up, divorce, after a drastic transition. Healing forward can be deemed offensive when we feel our audience hasn't given us the approval to move into the next stage or scene of our lives. This can lead to us to feeling like we have to hide our progress or that we don't have room to exist as we are publicly and that is so dangerous. We each have unique capacities for healing and varied forms of healing. Healing is not a performance so you should honor your process and progress. Comparative healing has more to do with other people's manifestations of self-healing and love than it does with your true journey. So as I say, honor your truth, honor your journey because it won't be the same as everyone else's.
We are almost always in a state of healing. I want to create a space to discuss what moving day to day as we are in stages of healing really looks and feels like. I want to acknowledge that this is an important and tricky part of the healing process and one that needs a lot of light. As this will be the center of a lot of what I do, I thought it would be very fitting to re-start my podcast and thathonestything here.
I wanted this to be the first episode because in my own personal work, I realized this to be my area of strength and growing interest and expertise. As it is relevant now though, I realized the need to create safe spaces for this especially. We shouldn't feel guilty for cultivating joy in a time like this or having to explain our smile amidst the tragedy around us. Waking up in our skin and feeling grateful while still mourning loss, taking time to breathe right in the center of this fight for justice.
The truth about healing forward is that it is real, it is normal, it is life. You can give yourself permission to exist and be present in multiple spaces, to cry and laugh in dark times. Healing doesn't ask of us to stay stagnant in one emotion at all times, it asks of us to be honest and provide ourselves with what we need to create the best opportunity for recovery.
Editor's Note| Black Lives and Healing Forward:
Don't forget. Don't let the black box be your only action. Post joy, but dedicate real time to continue the fight. As things may open up, when you go to a store or restaurant, doctor's office, inquire about diversity. Advocate, forever. Discontinue products and services that are anti-Black. Look inward and progress from anti-Blackness within the self and family and community. Honor when things suck. Honor when things are great. Make room for what you need, but do not ignore what's happening in totality. You may need some space, but we are in a very real time and as we heal, remember when you are able and strong enough, contribute to the time that is now in the best and most authentic way. We have a long way to go. Sustain that journey. Travel the journey.