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  • Writer's pictureNia Keightley

Finding Light in the Darkness: A Journey to Healing

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

A sunrise with sun breaking through the clouds
Taken in Cape Town by Nia Keightley

Throughout my life, I carried the weight of old emotional wounds. Some were etched into my psyche decades ago, yet they still felt fresh and painful. These wounds had a way of dictating my thoughts, emotions, and actions, even when I desperately wanted to break free, despite sometimes working for years, over and over again, to try and “get over” them.

Emotional wounds, whether recent or buried deep in the past, can linger and affect our lives in unexpected ways. They can hinder personal growth, strain relationships, and even impact our physical health. Today, I want to share my journey and a few of the powerful strategies that I worked with for emotional recovery and healing, based on my own experiences.

Woman Crying while holding a flower in her mouth
Engin Akyurt via Unsplash

Let it Flow to Let it Go

One of the most transformative steps I took in my healing journey was allowing myself to feel, truly feel, all the emotions I had been suppressing for years. I realized that bottling up my feelings only led to a potential volcano that would was bound to explode one day. So, I found a quiet space, my sanctuary, and allowed myself to open up to myself. I cried, I screamed, I punched pillows, I cried some more, and I released the emotions that had haunted me for so long.

It took several sessions for me to work through everything, but if something came up, I would consciously set some time aside for it to allow it to flow through me in all its raw magnificence, and did what I needed to do in the moment to let it go.

A person with arms wide open, standing on a beach at sunrise
Mohamed Nohassi via Unsplash

Acceptance and Choosing Myself

Accepting the reality of my past was a monumental shift in my healing process. It was a pivotal moment when I recognized that I couldn't alter the events that had transpired, no matter how much I wished I could rewrite history. However, this acknowledgment was not a surrender; instead, it marked the beginning of my liberation.

In that transformative instant, I understood that while I couldn't change the past, I had absolute power over my response to it. I began to make choices that aligned with my authentic self, my values, and my aspirations. It was as if I had been given a second chance at life, an opportunity to create a future unburdened by the weight of old wounds. The past became a reference point and a source of wisdom, instead of a prison cell.

A man and woman embracing in a garden
Gus Moretta via Unsplash

Embracing Forgiveness

Forgiveness was a challenging yet liberating step in my journey. I realized that forgiveness wasn't about condoning the wrongs done to me; it was about freeing myself from the pain and resentment. I forgave those who hurt me and learned that forgiveness was not a pardon for the wrongs committed but a liberation from the chains of resentment and anger.

Perhaps more importantly, I forgave myself… I worked to release any unforgive-ness towards myself for allowing the people I had trusted to deceive me, allowing myself to be vulnerable to those who didn’t deserve it, and allowing myself to believe untruths, despite my instinct telling me that something felt off… It took practise, and sometimes a friend to lend me strength, but with conscious effort, this forgiveness left me feeling lighter and more liberated to pursue my future without the weight of the past.

A clear quartz crystal cluster
J Yeo via Unsplash

Unearthing the Lessons

Life, I discovered, is a relentless teacher, ceaselessly presenting us with opportunities for growth and self-discovery. Even in the darkest moments, when the weight of old emotional wounds feels unbearable, there are profound and valuable lessons waiting to be unearthed. It's as though life's curriculum includes a special course on perseverance and resilience, and it's during our most challenging trials that we have the chance to earn our degrees (not without its own tests and exams, mind you!)

These lessons were not confined to the pages of a textbook; they were etched into the very fabric of my being. They became my guiding stars, illuminating the path toward emotional recovery and healing. With each passing day, I began to see the wisdom in life's relentless teaching, recognizing that even the most painful experiences held the potential for profound transformation. Once we’ve worked through all the muck and mud and dirt we dig through, they are those hidden precious stones that we carry with us as we move forward.

A woman writing in an open book
Kateryna Hliznitsova via Unsplash

Rewriting the Theme of My Story

For years, my life story had been defined by past pain. But there came a pivotal moment in my healing journey when I realized that I held the pen, and I alone could rewrite the narrative of my life. By reframing my experiences, I gained clarity and found a renewed sense of purpose. It was a profound realization, one that carried with it the weight of both responsibility and freedom.

With newfound determination, I embarked on the process of rewriting my tale. I chose themes that resonated with strength, resilience, and self-discovery. This act of reimagining my story allowed me to reclaim agency over my life's trajectory. No longer was I a passive observer of my own suffering; I chose to become the author of my own redemption.

A hand, relaxed and open, painted gold
Muillu via Unsplash

Taking Action Today for Tomorrow

The journey of healing, I discovered, wasn't solely about addressing the wounds of the past; it also entailed taking deliberate and meaningful actions in the present. Rather than dwelling on the past and pondering over the chapters of pain that had already been written, I turned my attention to the blank pages of the present and future. It was here, in the unfolding moments of today, that I held the power to decide how I wanted the future to unfold.

With intention and determination, I began to ask myself a pivotal question: " What steps can I take to improve myself, my relationships, and my overall well-being?” I started with baby steps, but every small action I took became a step towards healing, a brushstroke on the canvas of my life's transformation. Over time, I began to witness the cumulative impact of these small incremental shifts. I came to understand that healing was not an endpoint but a continuous journey, one that unfolded in the here and now. It was a journey fuelled by intention and powered by action.

A tap running water into a batch tub with pampering items on the side
Photoholgic via Unsplash

Prioritizing Self-Care and Self-Compassion:

In the midst of my healing journey, I learned the importance of self-care and self-compassion. I began to grasp a fundamental truth: I couldn't offer support, healing, or compassion to others if I neglected to extend the same care to myself. It was akin to attempting to pour from an empty vessel; I needed to replenish and nurture myself before I could truly be present for others.

Listening to my own feelings and paying heed to the signals my body conveyed became paramount. It was a practice grounded in self-compassion, an acknowledgment that I deserved the same kindness and understanding I readily offered to others. With each act of self-compassion, I reclaimed the strength needed for healing. It was a journey of replenishing and rejuvenation, a profound recognition that my well-being was not an afterthought but a cornerstone of my healing process.

Emotional healing is a deeply personal journey, one that I continue to walk every day. By following these strategies, I have made remarkable progress in my journey toward emotional recovery. If you're carrying the weight of old emotional wounds, know that healing is possible. It may not be easy, and it certainly isn't linear, but it's worth it. Remember, you don't have to heal 100% to see improvements in your life. Every small step forward brings positive changes to your mood, relationships, and self-esteem.

Be patient and kind to yourself along the way. Healing is a process, and setbacks are a natural part of it. View setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow, rather than as failures.

And if you ever feel overwhelmed, consider seeking help from a therapist, counselor, or support group. Healing isn't meant to be done in isolation, and reaching out for assistance can provide the emotional support and guidance you need.

Remember that your emotional wounds do not define you. You are whole and complete, deserving of love and healing. Embrace your journey, feel your feelings, and know that a brighter, more fulfilling life awaits on the other side.

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