Following on (later than planned) from the Healing vs Tending discussion – if we let go of that “end state” idea that comes with “healing”, then what DO we do with the injuries we experience, especially as part of endings?
We tend them, obviously. But we also have to CARRY them.
This, to me, has been *the* game-changing bit from these past two awful, awful years.
I have been working this out in my own way and I am also indebted to Fabeku Fatunmise for his very nuanced and profound presentation of carrying.
Carrying says: yes, this injury, this wound, is real. It is part of me. It is in a state of change, and I am tending it, and it’s still here, still open.
AND it says: I am moving. I am bearing this injury as I continue to live, to evolve, to discover and create myself. *With* the injury.
To me, tending and carrying go together. Tending is the process of checking that injury to see how it’s doing, what it needs in this moment.
Carrying is how we bring that injury with us without 1) pretending it’s not there or pretending it’s closed and painless when it’s not or 2) letting the injury define us, letting it *be* us, so that we drop to the ground and cannot move as long as it’s still there.
Those are the two most common “shadow” responses to injuries, and I’ll be talking more about that, but carrying is the clean way, the third way, the way through.
Many of our injuries will close over time, especially with good and steady tending. Some will actually cease to hurt, though the scars always remain, even if they’re tiny. Some hurt more or less forever…but we learn to carry them better and better as time goes on, if we’re tending well.
This applies to smaller or less-obvious injuries too, by the way, which relates back to endings. We can feel the pain of losing health or physical capabilities, even if it’s “normal aging,” for the rest of our lives. We can miss our kids’ softness and wonder decades after we rejoice in the adults they’re becoming. The end of a career, even as life goes on, is an injury we can carry for a long time.
How those endings shape us has *everything* to do with how we carry them….or don’t.
In the broader psycho-spiritual world most of us share, bypassing is by far the most common shadow of this process. Some of us tend towards this archetypally anyway (which is part of why I’m looking at each person’s chart for Tending The Endings to see what the archetypal picture points towards) but when it’s culturally reinforced, it becomes compulsive. The idea that these injuries don’t just *go away* – and often never do – seems to send people into a total panic.
On a broader cultural level, in most aspects of Western culture, we get the same message: GET OVER IT. Ideally very quickly. Meanwhile, whatever you do with it, do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.
The other shadow does get ahold of people too, though, and I freely acknowledge I am more vulnerable to that one – letting the injury take center stage, letting it define me, zooming in my view until it’s all I see. The caveat to this one is the feeling that this injury MUST be completely “dealt with” (end state again!!) before I can get up and go forward. Some of us are made more this way archetypally, and we may also have family or other influences reinforcing this response even though it’s not the more pervasive cultural message.
As I’ve navigated the worst of this interlocking set of losses, I’ve found very few people who don’t respond to MY pain from one or the other of these places. As I’ve worked with my beloved and amazing clients, and walked with people in my personal life, I’ve found very few who don’t respond to their OWN pain from one or the other of these shadows.
Anything I do is going to be a drop in the ocean, but I’d like to see this change.
I think tending and carrying are central to how that happens, and it’s remarkable to me as I start to really talk about this how *novel* it seems to so many people! I’ve been living with it for so long, trying so hard to find a different way and having to chip it so slowly out of what feels like frozen granite, that I don’t realize how radical these ideas are for a lot of folks.
I *LOVE* hearing your thoughts, ideas, comments, questions, agreement, objections, anything – it tells me that there’s something here, something people can make use of, something that opens some new doors so that we don’t have to keep looping through the old ones that don’t go anywhere. I want that more than ANYTHING.
Thanks for letting me share this stuff and for telling me that it matters to you.