Our dear friend and former Green Acres villager Briana, shown here on a visit last month,
has written a piece which helps us recognize, both why she needed to move, temporarily, back home with her parents, and the magnitude of what she’s been learning since. I applaud her new understanding, a rare capacity to see and navigate, from within the spacious right brain, two left-brain, seemingly contradictory conceptual forms which compete to explain her lived experience.
I asked her if I could publish her piece, as is. She gave her permission.
Stepping into the Wounded Healer
by Briana Petty
An appropriate place for stepping into the wounded healer archetype would be to meditate on sickness. What is sickness? How have we experienced sickness in our own lives? Illness is defined as “a disease or period of sickness affecting the body or mind.” Oftentimes, we think of sickness as strictly physical. Fever, chicken pox, cancer. But those with mental illness know, maladies of the mind can be just as devastating, having affects on this physical world as well. I’ve come to believe sickness has a spiritual dimension and I focus my healing work there. When actions are driven by ego, envy, insecurity, and inauthenticity there is sickness. How many times have we been under the influences of these forces and not even realized it?
Beyond our individual illness lies collective illness. Poverty. War. Torture. Racism. These are the wounds that bleed us all. The old, deep wounds that constantly reinvent themselves in news headlines and everyday interactions. We are swimming in a sea of sickness, clutching to buoys of friendship and hope. There is darkness. We are all wounded. And we are all capable of being a healer.
After getting out of the psychiatric hospital for the second time, I was told by the doctors: You are sick. I was told by a trusted friend: You are a healer. So which is it? Is it possible to be both? I believe so. And in order to move forward with healing work, we need to move beyond the dichotomies of doctor and patient, sick and well, wounded and healer. We must embrace the fact that our own dose of strife and suffering lends us the incredible power to empathize. (One finds want of empathy while locked up in the sterile hospital.) Empathy is the equivalent of laying a bridge to meet another human being. After going through a difficult break up isn’t it that much easier to help a friend through one? After losing someone you love, isn’t it that much more imperative to comfort others in their time of loss?
The world is in need of healing work. Not all of us are doctors, priests, or shamans. But all of us are capable of tiny milagros, miracles, that extend our common humanity. The more readily we open our wounds to others, the more quickly we will find common ground. I believe there is strength in vulnerability. That the world needs more of it. I’m talking authentic heart to hearts. I’m talking about medicine boxes for your neighbors. I’m talking sage bundles between friends.
So now I find myself walking this line between illness and wellness. Between my wounds being open and healing over. Between psych ward and priestess. This inbetween is important. It points to the fact that nobody has the answers. It allows me to retain some creative vision over the narrative. I could allow this life-threatening illness to cause me to live in fear. Or I could use this archetype to continue small acts of healing in this world I desperatively love. It is truly a desperate love . . . one that is laced with bitterness and melancholy. We all hold tight and take our medicine.