The Courage to Heal Myself

“The fears we don’t face become our limits.”

Kimberly Radke

Recently I was speaking with a friend about the pain of living with someone who is unable to face themselves or their wounds.  This is one of the toughest lessons I had to learn while in therapy.  I remember railing at my therapist, Alise* and ranting about how unfair it was that I was changing and becoming and taking responsibility for my actions but that others — namely my mother — were not changing their patterns to fit my new paradigm.

My lord, that even sounds arrogant to me to write out!

“Why do you care so much?” Alise asked me.

“Because I care!” I fumed.  “How could I just leave her trapped in her trauma and her wounds?”

Alise smiled and waited.  She was good at waiting — like a holistic version of a detective — her silence pinging something in my soul that ached to fill the quiet.  I laughed ruefully.

“I can’t even say that with a straight face anymore.” I let out a shaky sigh, the tears threatening to spill over.  “I can only work on myself, I know that.  But it just feels so f*cking unfair!”

“There’s something I think it is important to acknowledge, M.”

Alise leaned towards me and clasped her hands, her fingers reminding me of elegant ballerinas.  “The fact that you are even here, choosing to be vulnerable, choosing to engage in the hard work of unpacking your experiences, especially considering what you went through with your last therapist — that takes a tremendous amount of courage on your part.”

It takes courage to face your fears and hold space for yourself and hold yourself accountable for your choices.

I grabbed a tissue from the side table and wiped my eyes.  As I blew my nose, I felt as far from courageous as possible in that moment.

Alise gazed at me, her hazel eyes earnest. “Are you hearing me?  An incredible, incredible amount of courage to make the appointment and make the decision to entrust your healing to me after what you’ve been through.  

And what you need to understand is that this is true of everyone — it takes courage to sit here and open up old wounds and break free.  It takes courage to face your fears and hold space for yourself and hold yourself accountable for your choices.  Your mother isn’t ready to do that.  She may never be ready to do that.  And you have to find a way to make peace with that reality.  Because you cannot walk her path for her.  You can only walk your path.”

It’s been a year and a half since that conversation took place and I can say that despite having moments when I forget — when I’m tired or hungry or hormonal — I have learned to hold space for myself.  To accept responsibility for my choices and actions.  To make peace with where my loved ones are in their journey. 

When I do forget, I go back to the beginning. I regulate my breathing, practice what I’ve learned through yoga, and refocus my energy to the sanctuary within my soul.

When our loved ones remain stuck in their wounded past, it is painful. And a part of me grieves for who they could be if they weren’t held back by their wounds. But the only solution is to continue the tough work of self-healing.  Continue to walk my own path.  Continue to hold space for myself and for others.  

And have faith that somewhere along the way, they will find the courage to break free.


A member of the Water Street Writers, Mikaela D’Eigh is a writer, poet, gardener, mental wellness advocate, and a lover of Scotch, K-Pop, and KDramas.  She writes about anything and everything, using all the crayons in the box.  Currently, she lives out in the country with two Egyptian gods disguised as cats, a herd of cows, and the occasional flock of wild turkeys.

Check her out at La Belle Dame Merci, Medium, Facebook, or Instagram for more essays, poetry, and shenanigans.

*Names have been changed to protect the awesome

During the month of April, I’ll be participating in the A-Z Blogging Challenge. And later this year, my memoir will be published. Join me on the journey!

Image © microgen, Used with Permission, 123rf.com

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