It was disconcerting. I remember sanctimoniously thinking that he hadn’t figured out he was taking himself – and all his pain and troubles – wherever he went.
Such was the wisdom of a girl in her twenties.
What I couldn’t see was that I was doing the same thing.
I’ve moved house close to 20 times as an adult, and lived in three different countries. I just couldn’t settle. I couldn’t find that good place in my own skin.
Then, one day about six years ago, very soon after I moved to Australia, I was walking through a park and I heard a voice in my head say:
No more running. Now you stand.
I don’t know who that voice belonged to. Me? The Universe? My soul?
But I do know that it was right. I stopped running. I found the courage to stand still, stay in one country, and face myself. It wasn’t easy: my marriage fell apart, I had a miscarriage, my health failed, and I started having post-traumatic flashbacks to my childhood (it was a rough one: it’s the reason I’ve spent so much time running away, one way or another).
But I stood.
And because I stood (OK, a lot of the time it was more like crouching in child pose, but I was there, I was present) things got better. I found ways to heal my mind, my body, and yes, even my soul.
I found the courage to face my past because I had, quite frankly, run out of other options.
It doesn’t have to be that way for you.
If you have memories you are running away from, here are four things I learned along the way that helped me get brave enough to face my past, along with the fears and grief, and start to heal:
- Look for support
It took me several attempts, but eventually I found a good therapist who didn’t negate my life view and experience. That was surprisingly hard to do but very valuable. It’s worth remembering that therapists are humans just like we are and might react to us and our life stories in flawed human ways.
- Get educated
I did a course specifically aimed at helping peopled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to recover. It helped me get the ‘volume’ of my symptoms way down. I may never be entirely symptom free, although I can go years without a flare-up, but knowing more about this illness helps me practice self-acceptance.
- Take it slow
For me, this mostly means my yoga practice and the slow, steady breathing patterns that go with it.
I also, every day, practice accepting what is. Some days are very hard. Those days, I take things even slower. Yes, I do my daily tasks, but I also acknowledge that today, maybe, I went a bit backwards, and that’s OK. Because I am practicing being here now. That’s enough.
- Practice Self-Acceptance
Healing – from the same root word as wholeness – isn’t necessarily about fixing or obliterating your symptoms, or even your past pain. It’s about integrating all parts of yourself into a whole that you accept. All of it is part of you, and it has made you who you are today. If you’ve had a rough past and you are still here, I think you rock!
These are the ways I face my past. My fears, my regrets.
It’s made me a much stronger person. Even, sometimes, happier.
Melbourne-based Nadine Fawell believes you don’t have to stand on your head to get the benefits of yoga practice. In fact, you can just sit quietly, breathe, and change your (yog)attitude that way. You can find her blogging at yogainmelbourne.com, or hanging on instagram, facebook, and pinterest.
Photo credit: Andrew Nourse