The Freedom Experiment

The Freedom Experiment

Everything is possible

At the limits of healing, growth begins

Growth. Statue by Paige Bradley, photographer unknown.  

Every now and then, still, I ask the wise woman holding the space for my healing – usually through tears – if she thinks it's possible that one day I'll be whole.

I don't say the stupid word out loud, but all I really want is to know if she thinks that one day I'll be normal. 

That I'll be cured. That I'll be happy. That the pain of what I have been through some day will fade and become a distant memory. That I'll be like everyone else. Again.

I ask her this repeatedly, because the more I reveal to her about who I really am, the more I share of what happened to me, the more I let her see my fragile and incredibly complex web of dysfunctional survival strategies – the more I fear that after all these years she will somehow come to the conclusion that she's wasting her time with me. That she will give me up. That she will see through it all and confirm what I already – still to a certain extent – believe about myself.

I'm irreparably broken.

I'm damaged goods. 

So I ask her again, while in the middle of a particularly painful bout of sorrow, if she still believes that I'll be able to fully heal.

And bless her, the answer is always yes.

Yet, we both know that it probably isn't true.

She says it because in that moment, she knows that I need the illusion of hope to get through to the next breath. That I need her to hold me up in order to allow the feelings to be felt, and to be lifted by the knowledge that I'm not in this alone, and that this pain, in this moment, won't last forever.

I know she says yes, so that I can work on the real goal, which isn't to become normal. Not at all.

And I know it.

The longer I walk on this journey of finding peace with my story, the more I'm coming to understand that healing isn't about becoming whole.

I understand now, that the goal isn't to mend or to be repaired, the goal isn't to put the pieces back together or to get back to who I was before.

The goal is to grow. 

Like a tree grows, when one of its branches has been cut off in a storm. In nature, no plant simply grows the missing limb back out. It doesn't end up looking like it did before. It's never repaired. The organism heals the cut to avoid further damage, and then it grows around the wound. Crooked, maybe. Windswept. But a hurt sapling can still become a powerful tree.

For myself, I'm starting to really understand – with my whole being, not just my mind – that I'll never again be innocent of the cruel and unfair unpredictability of life. I'll never be unharmed. I'll never be unmarked.

For one, my body is covered with the fading traces of several hundred scars. Sometimes I run my finger across them, in order to take in the reality of their existence. Healing; yes, to avoid further damage.

Forgetting; never. 

And therein lies the strength in growth. Just like I will never be normal, whatever that really actually means, no one can ever take away the the fact that I am wiser than most people I know. No one can ever take away the attention to detail when it comes to human interaction, that I refined in order to survive, but that now gives me an incredible advantage in my work. No one can take away the fact that life gave me poetry in its rawest, most unforgiving and yet most beautiful way.

So I trace my finger along the cracks of my body. Those cracks, in which I belive that the light doesn't just get in; it gets out.

Each scar bearing meaning, like the opening line of its own story. Scars like dendroglyphs; memories of what has shaped me as a human.

Every trace – a testimony to the undeniable strength of my healing power.