Through a series of health issues that culminated in a year-long debilitating skin condition that no amount of steroids or antibiotics could settle, I had to rethink my approach to healing.
The first step was to check into a detox clinic. This is where a little book by Thich Nhat Hanh called True Love found its way into my life.
Taking the opportunity to catch up on my studies while I had some time away from the demands of home and work life, I packed a few books from a reading list. As I came to write an essay around this little book, I realised that said book wasn’t actually on my reading list at all… but the seed had been watered, and the words on each page landed deep within my heart.
This little book and its simple yet powerful teachings led me gently by the hand and onto a different path, one of loving-kindness, of compassion, and back to a sense of peace and equanimity, I could start to feel deep within my bones.
On this new pathway, I started to feel my edges softening with a new way of relating to myself and my pain, one with a kindness I hadn’t been able to access before. I started to understand that to truly move past fear and deep-rooted anger, I must start to take care of my strong emotions with loving kindness, to hold my suffering like a newborn baby (or puppy if you prefer that imagery!).
I realised that through meeting myself with a harsh and critical voice, the voice you wouldn’t talk to anyone else with, I was going to keep myself stuck at the point of trauma, the place I had received these messages as a little one. This little girl needed love and compassion, not more fear and anger.
Let me share how it was for me. There was never ‘that day’ when I woke up and all my problems had packed their bags and waved a cheery farewell.
There wasn’t ‘that person’ who made it all go away, that guru or psychologist, there isn’t ‘that pill or potion’ or ‘that distraction’ such as hopping, overwork, over achievement, a new and better relationship, or the material ‘thing’ such as a better house, car, or dress that will take you away from your suffering.
Now, you may be thinking, "Why is she telling us this?" I shall tell you why… it is because the sooner we come to this realisation, the quicker we get back in the driver's seat of our lives, reclaim our power, stop relying on others or external distractions, and learn to dance with what is and truly heal from past hurts, however long we have been living with them.
Through this little book, I found a lifeline, a language that I could understand and techniques that weren’t challenging or dogmatic. I could actually start holding my anger with self-love and compassion through mindfulness techniques that I will share with you.
When feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what to do, we can say to ourselves ~
"Breathing in, I know that anger is in me. Breathing out, I know that I must put all my energy into caring for my anger."
Alcohol and Healing
I had spent the last three decades in a deeply emotional and entrenched relationship with alcohol. I was either thinking about my next drink or thinking about kicking the habit. My health and relationships were suffering. However, once I started to be kinder to myself, I was able to end this toxic relationship that had kept me medicated for so long.
There was another medicine in town: self-love! I hope I haven’t lost you here as you recoil in horror at the thought of being kind to yourself. Yes, yes, I know we’re taught this one is self-indulgent and egotistical, but I’ll let you into a little secret… that’s a lie!
This is the point I started to feel the most tangible healing. I felt I had enough within me to take action. I was ready to discover myself and what I was truly made of.
Through this new and kinder way of communicating with myself, the alternative of spiralling into the darkness was no longer the direction I was willing to head. I realised that I was worth it and had something to live for. And this is why, my dear friends, I’m so deeply in love with sharing these experiences with others on their own deeply personal paths of healing.