I’ve spent most of my life believing that my worth and my abilities were hinged on my identity as a broken person. My brokenness manifested itself in a number of ways. It was through my often unstable emotions, my inability to trust people, and feeling everything around me on a very deep level. To me all of this amounted to needing to be healed. It never crossed my mind that I, myself, could be a healer.
When I looked at myself in the mirror, scribbled in my journal, and walked down the street I felt fractured, unable to offer a hand to those around me who were also struggling.
I’m not alone in this. In fact, I think it’s a myth perpetuated by society: the idea that broken people can’t be healers. I want to debunk this myth for you. I want to remind you that we are all human, and because of that shared commonality, we are also all broken. We wear our scars etched across our chests, smeared onto our foreheads, and trembling beneath our fingertips.
And many people will tell you that you can’t be a healer until you, yourself are healed. Until you’ve reached some incalculable point of emotional stability or awareness. Please, please do not listen to them. You have infinite love inside of you. A love that is compassionate, empathetic, and ultimately healing.
The best way I can illustrate this is with a personal story. I have struggled with disordered eating for the better part of five years. As with any cognitive disorder, while you can “overcome” the disorder to a large degree, you are never truly distanced from its shackles. I wrote a lengthy post on my blog my freshman year of college chronicling my struggle with food and body image and received an enormous amount of feedback – far more than I had ever expected. This was an important turning point in my life for a number of reasons.
First, it validated my experience. I did not feel alone. I felt loved and I felt seen. Secondly, it opened my mind to the possibility of my role as a healer for other young women who were struggling with similar things. The ability of me, an incredibly broken person, to help others did not seem so radical anymore. In fact, it seemed like the only way.
Because at the end of the day, our ability to heal others rests in our ability to be empathetic and compassionate. It’s not about how together our life seems or how stable we feel emotionally, it is about how we feel with others, how we take their narrative of pain and struggle and turn it into courage and strength.
Author Brené Brown talks a lot about this idea of turning our struggles into courage, and I think that in many ways healing others not only helps them to do this, but it encourages us to do the same.
Through embracing our shared humanity, our shared feelings of pain, loneliness, betrayal, and uncertainty we can begin to forge an impenetrable strength. It is a strength rooted in community. Gabby Bernstein references this idea in her new book The Universe Has Your Back, stressing a narrative of love over a narrative of fear saying, “If you retrain yourself to choose love, then you’ll experience life through the lens of love” (31-32).
Being a healer can simply mean you desire to see a larger framework of love at play.
If we choose to let go of the fear, the fear of not being strong enough or steady enough to heal others, amazing things will happen. As Bernstein would say, this creates room for miracles. So I encourage you to be a courageous healer. Take every negative experience and emotion in your life and use it to heal those around you – in turn, you may also heal yourself.