On May 25, it will officially be one year since I published my first book, In Body I Trust. One year ago, I made the decision to put my story out there for the world to read. One year later, I had no idea I’d be learning what it truly means to heal. I’m still struggling. I’m still healing. But there’s more to the story because it hadn’t yet unfolded.
I honestly believed I’ve found my calling. To be a writer. To publish books that would turn my inner dialogue into something tangible. But five months ago, I hit a brick wall after my dog and best friend, Luna, passed away.
It was a freak accident. Something you’d never see coming. At least I certainly didn’t. I was innocently at Christmas Eve mass when I got the call that Luna had escaped. And it was less than twenty-four hours later on Christmas day that we found her.
Where My Healing Begins
Since the loss of Luna, I’ve struggled to find words. I stare at a blank screen that’s ready for me to take charge. To paint a mural of words I construct into my own work of art. Yet nothing comes out. Blank. Frozen. Numb.
I’ve meandered day in and day out feeling like a zombie. Not happy. Not sad. I didn’t feel anything. I’d hug my body tight to try and ground myself, to remind me that I’m still here. But I kept floating away until the night came through and I’d be asleep again.
But a few nights ago, something happened. Despite my numbness, I could sense something was permeating inside of me. Like a shift was about to take place. I was on the verge of becoming. Becoming what, I still have yet to find out.
I’ve heard plenty of people say that when they’re quiet and still enough, they can listen to their inner self yearning to be free. I never thought it would happen to me.
The numbness forced me to be quiet. The numbness forced me to be still within the nothingness. In that space, there was a whole lot of something happening in the nothing. Right there in that open void of nothing, that’s where I found it.
That’s where the magic was happening. Is happening. I am healing.
What It Means To Heal
The more time that passes, the more I’m learning about healing. The journey isn’t linear with a clear definitive path. There are ebbs and flows just like grief, just like forgiveness.
To say that I’ve healed would be to say that I’ve reached the end. I personally don’t believe we ever fully heal. Instead, I believe healing is about learning how to live with grief. To survive, strive, and thrive even when the power of grief overcomes us. It means knowing how to not let it inhibit growth, change, and the evolution of ourselves.
But I also believe that we can’t begin to learn how to heal until we’re ready to let go of our old selves. The one that is attached to a narrative that no longer exists. It’s grieving the person we once were. The future we once believed we’d have.
I am no longer Lauren and Luna. My future is no longer Lauren and Luna. And I am learning to let that part go. And now that I am, I am allowing this giant hole in my chest to slowly be filled with love. Love for my partner. Love for our new puppy. Love for the friends and family I’ve pushed away while grieving. I’m learning how to love myself again.
How I Am Healing Now
My life has been pulverized by a series of events I never saw coming. Three years ago, I was diagnosed with an eating disorder. Two years ago, I almost took my own life. Nine months ago, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Five months ago, Luna died.
Yet despite the odds fighting against me, I’m still here. I’m standing on my own two feet. Some days I crawl. Most days I stumble. But I always get back up and continue to walk the uncharted path forward.
I spend time each day getting quiet. Quiet enough that I can hear what my insides are trying to tell me. That’s where I find the answers I’m looking for.
I am not healed. I am healing. I am constantly learning what it means to become this new version of myself. I am becoming. And I’m going to stay along for the ride of this journey as long as it takes me.
Lauren Dow is the author based in Greenville, SC. You can support Lauren’s work to normalize the discussion around mental health by checking out her books, In Body I Trust and Your Wild Journal. You can also sign up to receive monthly emails with a special free gift.