“Everything heals. Your body heals. Your heart heals. The mind heals. Wounds heal. Your soul repairs itself. Your happiness is always going to come back. Bad times don’t last.” ~Unknown
Many moons ago, I was alone in London. I needed time to heal after a devastating break-up that created a huge shake-up in my life and I thought the trip would help.
I was taking time to soul search and tend to my wounds in solitude in the hopes I would heal.
One day, I ventured off to Camden Market. I strolled among the sea of strangers, eating greasy takeout, and stopping now and then to bargain for a souvenir shirt or two.
That’s when I saw a practically hidden, wooden door with a small sign announcing tarot readings.
I am usually game for such adventures and I was at a point where I was soliciting advice from just about anyone who wanted to offer it.
Healing is not a straight path so along the way you want guideposts telling you that yes, you are heading in the right direction.
I took the sign for a tarot reading as one such guidepost.
I knocked and within minutes I was receiving a reading from an older gentleman in this wooden room the size of a small closet. In an instant, I had left the mayhem of the market and had been transported to a tiny, makeshift sanctuary.
Candles were lit. Pictures of Indian deities were propped in cheap, drugstore frames. Crystals were splayed on the fold-up table. The walls were covered with photographs of the gentleman in various locations with various celebrities as if to show how good he was at giving readings.
And he was. Much of what he said about my break-up and where I was at that moment in time was spot on. I sat, taking notes, taking it all in, nodding along, not saying much.
He offered hope for a brighter future, but there was a catch. Towards the end of the reading he looked at me and said:
“You have a block and you need a healing ritual to remove it. I can do it for you. If you don’t remove the block you’ll never be able to move on.”
I am naturally weary of anyone who offers healing rituals—especially when it’s unsolicited, especially when it comes with a threat—but I was curious to hear what he would do. Just what did this stranger think I needed? What would a healing ritual of his look like?
He went on to explain that he would need a couple items of mine—a photograph of me and my ex, a dirty piece of my clothing—and that the ritual would take place near a body of water at night.
When he sensed my hesitation, he graciously offered a discount.
As tempting as it was to think of my healing occurring and that the hurt and confusion I felt would be resolved with the turn of a tide, I said no.
It was too personal, too weird for me, and I didn’t think it was the answer.
I walked away wondering if there was some secret ingredient to healing. Could it really be as easy as airing out your dirty laundry?
But being months into the process, I knew that wasn’t the answer.
It’s about doing the work, giving yourself the time you need, and not taking a shortcut.
Shortcuts only delay the inevitable truth you will eventually have to face. Because when pain, hurt and trauma are not addressed the first time, they will resurface, arriving sometime in the future when you think all is well in your world.
It would have been easy to give this man the items, some cash, and all my trust.
It would have been easy to pretend that some invisible block was all that was separating me from a brighter, happier, more promising future.
But it would have been just that—pretending.
The key to healing is wanting to heal. The path to healing is to be honest about what’s hurting.
I wanted to be honest with myself and to really heal, no matter how raw, unnerving and gut wrenching it would be. I wanted the tearful, painful path. I wanted to dive into the depths of healing, and not leave it to a stranger offering strange promises.
I wanted to do the work then and I often visualized my future self thanking me for it.
Many moons later, I still think of this moment.
The memory rushes in during moments of pure happiness or dreams achieved. Suddenly, I am transported back to that hidden, wooden closet and I see myself so scared, so unsure, yet so determined.
And I take a few seconds to thank that past self for doing the work instead of drowning it.
The memory also comes when I am faced with another heartache or struggle. I think back to that dark period, and I remember that I got through that rough time and that this one will also pass as long as I am willing to actively participate in the manifestation of a brighter tomorrow.
I’ve learned since then that healing is different for everyone. Healing takes different shapes, different lengths of time and different approaches.
But it always takes work.
And not a day goes by where I am not grateful for the work.
Angie Sarhan Salvatore received her M.F.A in Creative Non-Fiction. She currently teaches college writing and designs inspirational jewelry. For more of her work, you can follow her blog, which focuses on infusing more mindfulness and positivity in your day-to-day life. For your daily dose of inspiration, find her Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Image courtesy of Eddi van W.