We’re all supposed to want to be perfectly functional. To be well, stable, capable, not inconvenient for others. Being well is not all peace and light.
On the New Age side there can be a lot of pressure towards wellness, with a sense that being ill represents a personal failure, a not having tried hard enough. The more extreme end of other religions will ascribe illness to being out of favour with God. Good Christians don’t get cancer, in some people’s book, therefore to get it is to have failed religiously, on top of everything else.
There are a lot of chronic and on-going illnesses out there that can, at best, be managed well. No amount of healthy lifestyle choices or positive thinking will cure you of Multiple Sclerosis or arthritis. Then there are the psychological ailments, because it simply isn’t the case that you can positive-attitude yourself out of suffering from severe depression. There are life experience too painful and serious to heal from as well. I know people who have lost children, and who carry that grief. No one should be asked, or expected to ‘get over it’ but the pressure to be convenient to those around you, is vast. Grief is something we are supposed to knuckle down and heal from, and if we can’t or won’t, we will be treated as though we need a medical intervention. There are occasions when not healing should be a perfectly valid option.
That which seriously harms us, in body or in mind, leaves marks that endure long after the obvious damage has gone away. The damage to a rape victim’s body will heal, but the damage to self, to relationship with the world, may be there for the rest of their lives. There is no way back from certain kinds of experience, no way of unlearning it, or ceasing to be aware that it can and does happen, that it could happen again, and that it will happen to other people. Extreme pain and sickness, violence and dire accident change our relationship with the world. Afterwards, we are not the same. We can’t be. We become more cautious, more aware, and we see differently. The damage becomes a part of self, a part of life, and to be asked to heal after that is to be asked not to recognise your own harsh journey.
The pressure to heal, put upon us by well-meaning people can add insult to injury. Are we to forget, then? Are we not to learn the lessons a failing body has taught us? Are we to pretend it never happened? Those who have not been put through hell at some point, quite understandably do not want to have to think about what might be out there, waiting for them. Those who have, may not wish to be reminded by seeing it happen to someone else. But what kind of answer is that? It’s not healing that is sought here, it’s not about what the survivor may need, but abut rendering them less problematic to those around them.
Sometimes, the best you can hope for is to make peace with things. A place of acceptance that makes it possible to get by, and from which you can make something of life. Peace is not the same as healing. One can be at peace with the open wounds in the psyche, with the lost parts of self, with an innocence that can never return. One can be at peace with grief while still carrying the razor-sharp sense of loss. Healing is not always available, for body or for mind. It is not always the best response. Sometimes we have to adapt and become some new thing, and let the damage shape us. The pressure to be well, to be normal, to be convenient is of no help at all in that process. Healing people might seem universally heroic and good, but there are times when it isn’t the right answer, and where honouring the transformation and allowing the change would be a good deal more helpful.