If you ever find yourself wondering how long it takes to heal, you’re not alone. I have asked that question. We all have. I started this work in the early 90s with that very question. And as soon as I looked under the hood of my pain and discovered that I had deeply-rooted self-loathing and that it was affecting all of my relationships, I let that hood slam shut again. I first wanted the answer, before I dug in: “How long is this going to take?” As if I were asking a mechanic! As if the question were answerable. This past weekend two readers emailed to ask me, How long? We all want to know, How long will it take to heal myself and be the kind of person who can feel contented most of the time and not have so many damn issues?!
I can now say that it’s a beginner’s question. It’s a valid beginner’s question. It cannot be answered. The only answer is a Buddhist one, “Begin the work.”
Here’s why. As soon as you commit yourself to self-healing, the question drops. The question of “how long?” becomes irrelevant.
Once you begin, you’re on a journey and that makes the question irrelevant; you’ve stepped off the cliff’s edge and into thin air where the path is forming under your feet with each step forward.
Recovery work is a practice. It’s work, but not the kind of work that gets “done,” or wraps-up. A practice is something you’re committed to doing (like guitar or yoga) over time. And over time as you practice regularly, you improve. But the goal isn’t to “finish,” it’s to become someone who plays guitar, does yoga, heals himself or herself — you! — and whose life reflects that practice in both small and large ways. Your practice informs your choices. As you practice self-healing, you begin to realize that your choices are those of someone who is healing and wants better for herself or himself. Making choices that suit you is a result of your practice and making choices is the practice itself. We make time for ourselves by making time for our practice. We might mention our practice to others, saying, “I’m doing an hour of self-care every week now.” And, as we practice self-healing, we begin to notice something: we have come to love the qualities, routines, and ritual of practicing. We’ve let go of the results because the results are the practice, too.
Be kind to yourself.
Amy Eden is the author of The Kind Self-Healing Book: Raise Yourself Up with Curiosity and Compassion