Shedding Old Skins

I’m thawing out and it’s been a long fucking winter.

I feel raw like all the layers I’ve shielded myself in over the years have been slowly shedding away. I feel my rough edges softening. This shedding process is no easy business though. It’s harsh and vulnerable. Some days I curl up into a ball and cry a river of tears. Some days the dark thoughts creep in like whispers from winter winds—icy and cold to my vulnerable soul. I have to find the strength to fight them away. That’s what I’m starting to realize—that it’s all a battle—life that is. The trauma, the depression, the recovery, the relapse, the darkness. Nothing has really changed. I guess the only difference now is that I’ve realized it’s a battle worth fighting.

I once believed that healing was linear, as was growth. I thought if I did the work and faced my traumas head on, unraveled them, fought them fiercely, dissected, and analyzed their dying parts then I would win. I’d reach the summit, plant my flag into the rocky ground and declare victory over my demons and the darkness that dwelled in me.

Plot spoiler: It doesn’t work that way… not at all.

No, I’ve come to learn the truth—that this thawing out process, this fighting, analyzing, dissecting and shedding of all the parts of me that I need to let go of in order to heal is more like an infinity symbol. Forever wrapping around itself, bringing me back over and over again to those same battles, to those same lessons that I thought I learned and put to bed long ago.

We heal in layers. To do it all in one go—ripping the Band-Aid off to say—would be too harsh, to painful, intolerable to our psyche. That’s why instead we shed, layer after layer peeling off pieces of ourselves that we no longer need, parts that we have reconciled with and are ready to let go of.

The more we shed, the more we learn and the more we grow and growing is no easy business either. Growth is meant to be uncomfortable, it’s meant to eject you from your comfort zone but in doing so hopefully catapulting you into a new level of existence—a higher frequency, one that vibrates on a wavelength closer to peace and closure with our past.

And you know what? The more we let go, the more space we create, space for things that are new and fresh—like pruning a bush or branches on a tree, we must prune ourselves as well—as Clarissa Pinkola Estes would say—constantly cutting away the parts we no longer need—no matter how painful that may be.

Holding on to what is stale and stagnant or toxic and dying will only cause us more suffering. We cling to the familiarity, to the comfort, to the safe—and that’s understandable. But what we don’t realize is that in doing so we are actually bathing in putrid waters and are leaving ourselves marinating in toxic waste. We think we are self-preserving when in fact we are self-sabotaging.

To grow and to heal we must learn to loosen our grip and let our aching, raw hands free from all that we no longer need. And in doing so, create space for the grace that we so deeply deserve.

So we must continue thawing, continue shedding, continue fighting, not because it’s easy—no it’s never going to be easy. We continue on because it’s worth it.

 

 

 

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