Healing Fucking Sucks

Updated: Aug 12, 2019



“My mission in life is not to merely survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. “

-Maya Angelou


My eyes were twice their size, red, and throbbing - a viable reaction to the release of tears I’d been holding onto for some time. The salt rimming my cheeks stung, my eyebrows shot up, and I absent-mindedly informed my partner, “I’m embarking on a healing journey!” He first looked at me, with those corners-slanted, pupils-all-the-way-at-the-top, sad eyes he settles into when I’m allegedly over-exerting myself. He proceeded to give me a nod of approval as he rubbed the remnants of a vulnerability hangover off my back one quiet evening. Deciding to heal was a momentous decision, quite like the one I made 5 years ago to carry my unexpected pregnancy to term. Both decisions carry similar characteristics; I had no idea how I was going to accomplish the task at hand, and I had absolutely no clue what I was getting myself into. However, what scared me more than the uncertainty, was the reality that something in the crevices of my subconscious still had enough power to debilitate me at the drop of a thought. My ego sucked her teeth, appalled that a supposed “strong independent woman” like me would still be harboring over her past, but I’d come to the realization that “letting it go” simply was not working.


Feeding my urge to be in control and using the momentum that my new decision stirred, I made a list of all the materials I needed to purchase in order to “heal”. My cart was filled with journals, new bundles of sage, and sticks of palo santo. I mapped out my journey month-to-month (going as far as color coordinating the different phases of my process), and I assigned December 31st as my “healing date”. Yeah, I’m still laughing at that, too. I logged into Pinterest and pinned all the tattoo ideas that symbolize freedom, hoping I’d fall in love with a commemorative piece of art to be inked on what would be my newly-healed skin. This isn’t something I learned from my Dominican parents, this isn’t something I learned in any psychology class at my alma mater, or during my social work Master’s program. Moreover, this isn’t something we typically talk about in our friend circles or a problem I could self-diagnose the answer to on Google. There exists no roadmap to heal. It turns out Robert Frost was right when he said, “The only way out is through.”


I refuse to continue surviving.


Mami and Papi survived years of struggle after immigrating to the United States in search of a better life. Their parents survived less-than-desirable living conditions in our beautiful motherland, and their parents survived years of inequity and colonization. This narrative of survival is programmed into our familial gene pool, more specifically my maternal gene pool, whose abusive scars are still healing more than 20 years later. What’s more is that this genetic trauma is not explored, and don’t you dare think about telling anyone outside of your family, eso es de locos. Therefore, it made sense that surviving felt normal. During the years that most young women were exploring their identity, I was learning about myself through an emotionally toxic relationship, developing coping mechanisms to do what my body had been programmed to do for generations – survive. The coping mechanisms I developed throughout that relationship did not disappear with a change of scenery, they stayed with me first as methods of defense, then slowly turning into methods of self-destruction.


Though it has taken me a long time to come to this realization, it has taken a longer time for me to have the courage to actually write those words – to rip them from the etches of my soul. In fact, I started this essay over 5 times, each time writing a sentence farther away from the truth because the truth is frightening. Making that momentous decision to heal meant that I no longer chose survival. I instead chose to thrive.


I wrote in my journal more.

I went to the gym.

I started to run three times a week.

I talked, honestly, with my partner.

I wrote some more.

I started Melanie Santos’ moon rituals.

I released my innermost insecurities.

I prayed to a man called God my Christian grandmother told me existed.


The feeling of progress towards some sort of finish line evoked a high in me; I felt ecstatic that someday I would reach a point of invincibility. Consequently, my life was filled with euphoric colors of self-compassion and forgiveness. To my dismay, after some time had passed, the same coping-mechanisms-turned-thoughts I identified as problematic during my first healing stint showed their ugly faces again. “That’s not enough, you’re not enough, that’s so stupid, you can’t do that you’ll fail” they went on, and I couldn’t believe it! How is that I felt this way when I’d allegedly finished “healing”? Disheartened that my first attempt at being healed was “unsuccessful,” but persistent enough in my pursuit of peace to try again, I did.


I sought out help from a therapist.

I got in touch with my spirituality by meeting a spiritual advisor, Diana.

I bought new crystals and meditated, religiously.

I practiced gratitude for 103 days straight and counting.

I loved myself and others.

I listened to my body when she asked me to rest.

I wrote, feverishly.

I came face to face with my demons, again.

Most importantly, I vowed to release them once and for all.


I rode the train of self-compassion and forgiveness for a few stops until limiting beliefs halted me dead in my tracks to say:

“What do you think you’re doing? “You can’t write, just quit.” “Nobody wants to listen to that anyway, keep it to yourself.”


And this is why healing fucking sucks because it never fucking stops.


If you Google the definition of “healing,” it’ll say; (noun) the process of making or becoming sound or healthy again. Seeing the words “process” and “again” revealed that healing would be an ongoing repetitive occurrence and it made sense why I kept going back to the same place I’d “healed” from. To heal we have to feel deeply and to question deeply rather than “letting it go”. When we feel, we can then explore, learn, and heal. When we let it go, we don’t even give ourselves the opportunity to reach the source of our pain. Healing, like grief, comes in waves. Consider this scenario: You are on the beach, fighting the waves of the ocean. They hit you with a loud force at the beginning, almost startling in many ways. The waves slowly dissipate until they are merely quiet foam on the glistening shore. Then, there is a millisecond of stillness before the roar of the waves begins again.


That millisecond of stillness is where we heal.


When the force of the upcoming wave hits, as a result of your preparation during that millisecond of stillness, it may hurt a little less, the waves are less unexpected.

You know how to position your feet on the ground so that you are swayed a little less.

You know which way to face the sun so that you don’t lose your balance.

Soon the waves dance around you persistently, but you are still.

You move when you decide to move, not when the ocean asks you to.


I began to see healing as a cycle – a continuous refinement of my reactions to external factors I cannot control in order to protect my peace. In order to even identify which reactions needed to be refined, I had to be still, question, and listen. I also noticed that the cycle is never fully complete, that I would have to be just as courageous to heal every time after the first.


The beauty of healing is not reaching the non-existent “I AM HEALED” finishing line. My wounds are deep enough for the scars of my past to stick around for a while, and that’s okay. The beauty of healing lies at the bottom of the ocean floor where you sink your feet a little deeper into the sand so that its unpredictable movement does not interfere with your own. This is healing, it is a cycle, it always returns, the work never stops. You must be committed to non-closure, and committed to vulnerability. You must be honest with yourself and listen to the realities your soul knows to be true, no matter how much they hurt.


Some days my feet are anchored to the ocean floor and I am unfazed by the waves of my emotions. Other days I am thrust into the water and spit up onto the shore, with sand in my ears and salt in my eyes. But sometimes, when I am truly listening, I am the sea breeze dancing above the ocean, watching it all from a bird's eye view, smiling at the beautiful masterpiece that is the entirety of healing.