• Alex Mae

HEALING: PEELING AWAY THE LAYERS

Updated: Jun 3


*Originally posted on Living Madly Abreast November 9, 2016

Editor’s note: Many of us are grieving today. May this help you find peace and feel hope that you can heal from this pain.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, . . . but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” J.K. Rowling

Professor X from The X-men uses a room, Cerebro, to focus his psychic abilities to sift through humankind to locate mutants. The image from X2: X-Men United (shown here) with Professor X sifting through all humans and mutants to find just one speaks to me.

While I don’t have psychic abilities, or if I do they’re latent and waiting for the right time to help me save the world, I’m a visual learner and thinker. A lot of my thoughts are clearer to me in picture form. An art piece, movie, tv show, comic book, will speak to me on levels that a conversation, or the written word simply cannot reach alone.

As a survivor of both sexual and domestic violence I have spent a lot of time learning and healing. I’ve taken classes, attended support groups, read almost everything that has come my way, utilized therapy, and had conversation after conversation about sexual and domestic violence in general, and healing from trauma. The greatest healing I have experienced has come from my own art. Purging my pain from my body and mind, and binding it on canvas so it can no longer hurt and torment me.

I finished a piece recently entitled, “Healing.” In order to get down to the root of trauma, a lot of layers had to be peeled away and healed on their own before the deep, dark pain can be addressed. As each layer is healed, I like to envision it burning and turning to smoke that is carried away from me, never to return.

As I uncover, or peel back, each of those layers I find that most, if not all, of them are lies or beliefs that do not match my life views. They are comments from strangers that I overheard and internalized. Opinions from talk shows or the news that are not backed up by evidence, but are nevertheless strongly held beliefs that persevere. Teachings from church or family that are directly harmful to my well being. Abusive, bullying language, names, and messages. The more I mindfully peel back, the more aware I become that the negative things I believe about myself come from others, not me. Realizing that was a turning point in recovery and healing.

The easiest way for me to heal and release is to find where the incorrect message came from. As if I have my own Cerebro that runs in the background waiting for the deliverer to present themselves. Once I’ve identified the person I mentally send their message back to them. Some people that I have fortified boundaries with get their message tossed back to them. They don’t get the courtesy of politeness. The rest I’ll hand back.

It’s their struggle that they were trying to get me to hold for them. To carry their burden of hurt and pain. They didn’t necessarily mean to cause injury. They were, and usually still are, caught in their own harmful cycles. As they say, “Hurt people hurt people.” That’s theirjourney to health and happiness. Mine is freeing myself of the messages that hurt me so I can live life as fully as possible in my own way.

As I clean my metaphorical house of trauma and watch the smoke rise off the memories and pain, I clean the ghosts of the past that haunt my present. Soon my Cerebro will be filled with those who lifted me and gave me strength to continue on my journey. I’ll be haunted by the ghosts of my favorite authors, characters, friends, and family. Cerebro will no longer be a place I go to cleanse my soul but to find peace. Sanctuary.

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