If you’re new to this whole process of emotional healing, I’m going to say something now that might frustrate you: it’s probably going to take a long time and be a lot of work. We can reach major milestones and still have setbacks, but that does not mean we’re not making progress, and I hope that you won’t let it discourage you from beginning and continuing to do the deep inner work of healing. I’ve been frustrated and discouraged, also, and sometimes even gave up hope for periods of time that I could ever reach wholeness. But for me, living with the angst without pressing on toward healing left me in a state worse than the hard work of healing. I knew that there was something better for me than staying in the muck of depression—it was discovering my truest identity and finding freedom and joy in that.
After acknowledging my angst and examining it more closely, the bulk of my healing process began, and it began through conversation. Conversation with therapists, mentors, friends, family members, and God. It was through these conversations that my past and present feelings were affirmed, my personhood was validated, my ability to forgive and set boundaries was established, my hope was restored that I could be loved as I am, and my insecurities began to wane. Through these conversations I learned to forgive the limitations of not only the family I was taken from but also the ones that had received and raised me. I learned to speak the truth to myself about my worth, and I learned to validate the complexity of my thoughts and feelings about that particular era of my life.
Part of that process was writing my 6 year-old self a letter that expressed all that my 30 year-old self wished she had heard from the grown-ups during such a vulnerable time. Whenever something in my life triggers that angst and I find myself taking two steps backward in my healing journey, these words to myself help me move forward again. Sometimes I imagine that God speaks these words over me, other times the reader in my imagination is a stand-in for a parental figure, and sometimes it is my own 30-something year-old voice reassuring the desperate 6 year-old of all the things she didn’t even know she needed to hear.
I’m going to include a draft of that letter in my next post, Part 4: Helping Others Heal, because I think it is equally as valid in helping others as it is an expression of my own healing. I thoroughly believe that my healing journey is meant to also help others along in their own journeys, and that as I do, my own healing moves forward, too. So, whether you are a foster kid (former or current) or you love one, I invite you to visit my next post, the last in this series Formerly Fostered: the Search for Healing.