Episode #29: Not Done Yet


Welcome to the Freedom from Empty Podcast: Building Strong, Effective, Resilient Leaders and Humans. My name is Booth Andrews, and I am your host. Thank you so much for joining me for this episode. 

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So let’s get started with this episode. 

Man, there is just something about fall that makes me happy. The air feels lighter (and finally cooler here in the South). As the earth sheds its summer layers, it seems like there is more expansiveness in the world. As I write this, I am sitting on my screened in porch, cool morning air, blanket, lap kitty, and all manner of bird calls and the residual drops from last night’s rain as background noise. 

I referenced seasons in Episode 27, and I am struck by them again today, but for different reasons. 

I have talked to my clients about healing as a process. As we heal, it isn’t a straight up and forward path. In fact, the path is wholly unpredictable. Except perhaps for one thing that I am starting to see as a constant. 

When I was very newly back in the light (at least on some days), I was able to articulate it this way . . . there is no guarantee that we will not visit the darkness again, but what we can hope for as we heal is that when the darkness comes, it will not take us down as far or hold us there as long as it did the last time. 

We return to where have been, but on a different plane. Almost like an upward spiral. 

We return to where we have been, but with greater resilience and more understanding that what feels permanent, isn’t. 

We return to where we have been, but with more tools in our toolbox, and more grace for ourselves.

We return to where we have been, but with more mindfulness and presence to our experience.

We return to where we have been, but better able to ask for what we need in terms of unconditional love and support. 

We return to where we have been, but we have the opportunity to practice new skills or even learn new lessons each time.

And slowly, as we come back around time after time . . . much like the earth cycles through the four seasons, year after year, we discover new layers of ourselves. New layers of our pain. New layers of brokenness. But new layers of healing too. 

There is a part of me that is tempted to wonder . . . am I THERE yet?? Have I done ENOUGH hard work yet? Am I healed yet? Like, when does life flow and get eas(ier) and simpler. Will I ever be really well or will I live with chronic mental illness for the rest of my days? 

I used to ask these questions much more frequently when I was new to my journey. When I really had no way to frame or understand the breadth and depth of what I had been through, what I was currently going through, or what was yet to come in the future. 

And then, as I started to string together more good days than bad, and the longer I have been on medication, the more I just came to accept that perhaps this IS part of my life, for the rest of my life. 

But I am also reminded that I have likened therapy to peeling back an onion. You peel back some layers. You process. You hurt. You heal. You find homeostasis. And then, you discover the next layer--either through therapy, or your body releasing something new, or revisiting a toxic pattern for the umpteenth time and finally seeing it for what it is. And you do the work all over again. 

There are times in our lives when we get to practice the lessons we have already learned. Much of my podcast and blog content comes from my daily practice and (re)learning much of what I have already learned in the last several years. 

And then there are times when the next layer comes to the surface, and you have a choice whether to proceed . . . 

I have mentioned that I had the opportunity to take 200 hr yoga teacher training as part of my journey. I took this opportunity, not because I had aspirations to be a yoga teacher, but because I believed that yoga was a powerful tool that could support me on my path to re-integration of my body with my emotions--reestablishing pathways that had been shut off for decades--and even though I KNEW that, I was unlikely to get myself to yoga class alone on a regular basis. What I didn’t realize at the time, was that yoga would also be an incredible tool to allow me to begin to re-integrate with my soul and my connection to the universe that I lost when my Mom died.

I have come to believe that re-integration is some of the most healing and restorative work that we can do on our path to become whole, well, beings. And for some of us, because the synapses have been blocked for such a long time, it is going to take a number of active measures in order to facilitate full re-integration.

And so, despite the time I have spent in a yoga studio and in a gym doing intentional, focused movement, and despite the pieces of myself that I have uncovered and re-integrated into my body and soul over the last few years, part of me has known that I am not “done” yet. 

What I recognize today is that my body is still sending me signals. Some of those signals are pain signals. Some of them feel more like numbness (like there is not as much feeling in those nerves or energy moving through the pathways compared to the sensations I can feel in other parts of my body). And what that tells me is that there is still work to be done. 

I recently had the opportunity to co-facilitate at the Woven Retreat. I cannot say enough about that incredible experience. I have never seen such a deep level of community and connection birthed in such a short amount of time. The seeds of that time spent with 20 other women, will bear fruit for years to come. 

And at the end of the retreat, we each set an intention . . . something we were going to release. I set an intention to release pain, illness, and injury from my life. It still sounds a little ambitious to me . . . does it sound ambitious to you? Unattainable even? Because to some degree we have been taught or have come to believe that what our pain, illness, and injury often lies completely outside of our control?? And yet, I feel called to explore the possibility than I can be even more integrated, more whole and more well than I am today.

Now, I have had enough experience to know (although I forget regularly) that when I set an intention, the path opens up before me. That path ALMOST NEVER looks the way I imagine it will. And it very often requires more perceived challenges than I would have liked. But there is no question that I get what I ask for . . . !!!

And so, really even before I set that intention, and also after, I have become aware of some of the resources that will help guide me to my next level of physical integration and healing. 

And I am reminded that, even though part of me just wants to just rest on my laurels and be DONE with healing already!!! There is part of me that has more to learn, more to heal, and ultimately on the other side, more to give. 

I think the truth is that we are never THERE. And I will admit that the idea is both exhausting and inspiring. 

I think we have a choice  . . . to accept the status quo as good enough . . . which likely has unforeseen consequences . . . or to peel back that next layer and see what we can discover and heal along the way. 

I choose the second option. Because I can. Even though the path is sure to be rocky and scary and uncertain and may even feel like madness along the way. 

And I am so grateful that I don’t have to go it alone this round. Because I have chosen to lay down my superhero cape . . . okay let’s be honest the damn thing spontaneously combusted . . . but I have chosen not to weave a new one. 

I choose step forward on this path of life and healing with more vulnerability, humanity, grace, presence, forgiveness, and compassion than ever before. I will call my community around me every step of the way. And I will share as much with you as I can along the way in hopes of holding the lantern out in front of you and helping to light your path.  


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I look forward to being back with you next time!