January 27, 2016

Writing as Surgery for the Soul.


Long before I began to consider myself a writer, I went to school to be a surgical technician.

Surgery on the physical body is a traumatic and frightening thing. The patient will see their physician to diagnose the particular issue they are having. It could be pain, sickness, lumps and bumps that appear suspicious, or trauma that has caused physical damage. The physician will examine the parts of the body in question, and if there is a surgical way to manage the condition, the patient will consult with a surgeon.

To correct the condition in the physical body, the surgeon will likely have to make it worse before it can get better. This involves cutting the body open, excising the things that should not be inside the body, removing parts of the self that are damaging to the body’s wellness,  and breaking flesh and bone until the source of the issue is corrected. Then, the body is put back together with screws, plates, staples, stitches and glue. The wound is covered with dressings to absorb the bleeding that will follow the procedure.

Eventually, the dressing will need to be removed to allow the wound to breathe. Oxygen is vital to the healing process. If the wound is not allowed to breathe, the healing process is hindered. The wound may become infected, causing it to take much longer than it should, and puts the patient at risk for even more severe complications.

When the surgical wound is healed, a scar will remain. It will be visible on the surface, and will continue down through the layers of tissue that were affected by the procedure. Some will wear their scars as a badge of honor. It is proof that they have survived. They had the strength to overcome whatever was inside them making them unwell.

Others will wish they could keep the dressing on the wound. They will layer clothing on top of it, or conceal it with makeup, or avoid situations that would allow others to see it. They allow shame, guilt, or fear to color their perception of themselves, and assume that others will look upon their scars with distaste, disapproval, or disgust.

And so it is when writing a memoir. You must go inside yourself to diagnose your pain, your weakness, your failures. When you recognize a pattern, you must consult with your higher self to see if there is a way to heal what is broken inside you. If there is a way to fix it, you must. No matter how painful. Once it has entered your awareness, there is no other option.

You must cut away everything that does not serve your greatest good. This can be toxic relationships, addictions, and behaviors that are not creating joy, peace, happiness, and prosperity in your life. It is a painful process, but a necessary one. You will bleed, my Gods you will bleed—heart and soul. But, the pain of exposing your old wounds is necessary if they are to be healed.

As you begin to heal, you may be tempted to keep the dressing on your wounds. You may want to cover and conceal, because opening yourself up, exposing your imperfections is a frightening thing. If you don’t conceal it, you have to look at it every day. You fear judgement. You fear that others will misunderstand you. Still, you know in your heart of hearts that the only way for you to heal completely is to expose your wounds to the air. To let them breathe, out in the open.

As you heal, the scars form. They appear on the surface, and run all the way to the core of your being. You know that they will always be with you, and eventually, you see them for the gifts that they are. You know that you are not the only one to experience the kind of pain that you have survived. And so, you begin to share your scars, your story. Your healing accelerates as you lay your soul bare. Others gaze upon your scars and marvel at your strength.

As your goal grows ever closer, you begin to encounter new resistance, because your wounds didn’t get there by your actions alone. There were many others who played a part.

You realize that the congratulations of a thousand strangers will never drown out the deafening silence of those who once loved and supported you.

But, many are too afraid to undergo the same healing work that has brought you to this moment. You cannot stop now. The world is waiting to witness the miracle that you are. Your heart is pure, there is no malice in your intent, and your story is too valuable to keep from those who can benefit from it.

You are living proof that it is possible to survive, and in your survival, there is hope. Hope for every person who shares your affliction. Hope for every person who has hurt the way you once did. Hope for every soul, that they too can overcome their wounds, and find the strength and courage to endure their scars.

You have no choice to press on, to tell your story, to share your imperfections. Because to stop now, would mean to halt your own healing. So, you write, you heal, and you display your scars for the world to see. There simply is no other way.

Author: Renee Dubeau

Editor: Travis May

Image: Flickr/distelfliege

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