“No one heals in a straight line,” writes Dr. Edith Eger, Holocaust survivor, psychologist, and author, in her book The Choice. She is correct.
If you have ever felt like you have taken two steps forward and one step back on your journey towards a pain-free, healthier, happier life, you’re not alone. I know exactly what it’s like, as this has been my own experience. The ups and downs of healing is a topic that comes up often with clients, so let’s break it down into what’s happening and why.
It’s easy to get frustrated when you’ve put all of your optimistic confidence into someone or something that you sincerely hope will rid you of your aches, pains, or ailment for which you seek treatment.
You start feeling better, but then one day you wake up and, oh no, it’s back, or maybe you feel a new pain and you think, “Now what?”
Let me give you a couple of examples:
A client comes in wanting relief from their chronic back pain. They start to feel and move better. They can even get dressed more easily. Then, weeks later, they get a sharp pain when they move in a certain way. “Isn’t bodywork supposed to make me feel better? Why am I getting pain now?” they ask themselves.
Yes, bodywork, movement education and nutrition are supposed to help you feel better. My hope and my intention for you and all my clients is that you feel better and learn the awareness and self-care tools to both maintain and progress our work together for lasting change and comfort. But healing is not always an uphill trend every day, week and month. Even though you’re getting better overall, you might have days or weeks where it feels like you’ve actually taken a step backward. This is actually a normal phenomenon, and is nothing to get overly-concerned about, or doubt the efficacy of your treatment.
Recently a client going through their second Total Transformation Program (12-Series) called me to say they were having some strong and painful muscle cramps after one of our sessions, in an area I didn’t even touch. While we were both disappointed that they were in pain, we stayed in touch and when they came in for their next session, they reported that the pain had only lasted a day, and since then their knee pain and swelling had drastically improved. They felt better than they had in a long time since their knee replacement, and their leg felt significantly more integrated and a part of their body. We did not touch their knee in the session.
In my Structural Integration training we called this idea of ups and downs in a healing process a “State-Trend Model.” If you are a visual learner, it looks something like this in the image above:The (red) “trend” is your overall wellness. The (blue) “state” is where you are on any given day, or unit of time. As you can see, even though your “trend” is on the upswing, there are times when your “state” is not always heading up.
There are bumps along the road to healing.
As your body shifts and we ask it to work in different ways, your body doesn’t always like it at first. Sometimes your body is more than happy to change, saying, “Woohoo! Bring it on!” and other times it’s as if your body says, “I’m not so sure about this. I’ve been doing it this way for a long time, and now you want me to change? I’m not ready…yet.”
You also need time. Time, I’ve found, both as a fellow human being and as a practitioner, is the most challenging variable in any healing process. We all want a quick fix. Our society is obsessed with it (just watch TV for 10 minutes and you’ll see advertisements for all kinds of quick fixes [that usually don’t deliver results]). Your body is so incredibly intelligent and will change on its own time: not yours or mine. Be patient, and be a witness to your own transformation, especially the little things. Sometimes progress is not measured in leaps and bounds. Every inch counts and should not be dismissed or ignored, but, rather, celebrated.
If you find yourself on this up and down journey (or completely losing your path), you have a choice: get discouraged and stay where you are, or keep going. When you’re out hiking on a trail and it suddenly gets steep, do you give up and turn around, or do you keep going, step by step, to get the reward of that incredible view and the swim in the secluded alpine lake at the top?
Remember, healing is a journey, not an event or destination. There is no destination when it comes to health and healing. You change every single day as variables in your life change. Do your best to roll with it, enjoy it, and be grateful for the lessons learned along the way. Even if that lesson is patience. I’m here with you and will be your partner in the process when you’re ready.
Wishing you all the best on your healing journey,
Jennifer Soames, BCSI, Certified Yoga Instructor, Nutritional Consultant, Author, LMT
Issaquah, WA USA