Healing Isn’t a Sprint, or Even a Marathon. It’s an Epic Journey

I am a huge Lord of the Rings fan. In my house we have heated debates over whether Frodo or Samwise is the true hero of the tale. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bellowed with adrenaline when Eowin pulls off her helmet on the battlefield, says “I. Am. No. Man!” and shoves her sword into the empty helmet of the Witch King of Angmar, causing him quite a painful looking death.

I mean, come on – how can that NOT give you chills??

It’s been about 48 hours since my article on Biddy Early and the cost of healing was published. It’s gotten a bit of love on Facebook, for which I am grateful.

But I wanted to address some of the conversations I’ve seen, even tho some weren’t directly about my article. Some are my own reactions. And you’ll see how the Lord of the Rings references fit in.

Sprints vs Journeys

In my first post on returning from Ireland, I mentioned that my #1 lesson was that healing from trauma wasn’t a “go to bed and rest till you feel better” kinda thing. Yeah, I’m still not happy about that. Nonetheless.

One of the things I said in the Biddy Early article was this:

Because some people don’t want to heal. Of course, they think they do. Maybe they go from one therapist to another, or try different religions or “self-help” strategies. But the bottom line is they don’t want to do the work it takes – to pay the price – to truly heal.

Healing from trauma takes work. It takes facing what happened to you, and sitting with your emotions instead of avoiding them. It takes learning new ways of thinking, of literally re-programming your brain. It takes time, energy, and work. And it can be painful as Hell – especially since it’s often two steps forward, one step back. Not everyone is ready to do that. Some never will be in this life.

I wanted to address this idea, because I didn’t want to seem like those who aren’t ready to face the pain and heal are weak in any way.

It’s your trauma, and it’s your choice how you deal with it.

Healing Is Never A Straight, Simple Path

But also, I want to really focus on the fact that healing is never just a straight, simple path. It’s a journey just like the one Frodo and Sam take to get the Ring back to Mount Doom where it can be destroyed.

It’s full of twists and turns, of betrayals and hardships. You may have to go through Shelob’s lair, and be stung with poison all over again.

And the closer you get to the ultimate goal, the harder it gets. In the end, Frodo collapses and is carried up the slope of the mountain by Sam. Yet when he gets to the ledge, he completely falters. He’s unable to throw away the burden he’s been carrying all this time.

How This Relates To Your Trauma

Ok, maybe you’ve (gasp!!) never seen or read Lord of the Rings. I will refrain from judging (totally judging you right now). My own bestie is a complete non-geek who’s never even seen Star Wars. (I KNOW, RIGHT?????)

Anyway, the relevant points are this:

  • It took 3 whole movies that left out half of the book to get Frodo through his journey. Everybody stopped, every night, and made camp. Yes, the fate of the world was at stake, and the people in charge of saving it took rest breaks. Self care is a thing, even in Middle Earth. Yes, there are still a billion battles to fight, but you can’t fight them if you’re exhausted.
  • Sometimes you may find yourself going in circles, or taking a wrong turn that takes you backwards. It’s frustrating, but it’s ok. Remember, we’re on a journey. Take stock of where you are, and adjust course. Chances are, you’ll have learned something from your detour. Accept it and move on.
  • Let people help you. Frodo would’ve been eaten by a Nazgul as soon as he left the safety of Rivendell were it not for the Fellowship keeping him safe. And later, as he got closer to his destination, Samwise literally carried him up the side of a volcano. (After saving his life a couple dozen times already along the way). You, too, have to be willing to ask for help. You may only have one friend (and hopefully a good therapist) that gets all the way to the heart of your journey. Let them in. Let them help you. You won’t make it otherwise.

Do you have a Samwise in your life? If not, you need one.

  • In the end, it may be difficult to truly let go of your trauma. Frodo couldn’t destroy the ring once he got inside Mount Doom, even though he’d pushed past his physical breaking point, suffered horribly, and nearly died several times to get there. My own therapist tells me I may never be 100% free of my trauma. So what’s the point? Each step forward is a step closer to healthy. A step away from pain running your life. Even if you never make it all the way in this lifetime, each step forward makes this life a little better.

I hope this clarifies things a little. And if you haven’t seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy, you really should. I’m feeling a rewatch coming on soon myself 🙂

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