the alchemy of healing

intelligent healing process SOM

“I’m so fuckin’ grateful for my ex.”

Now that’s something I haven’t heard before.

It’s a lyric from Ariana Grande’s surprise single “thank u, next” dropped 30 minutes before Saturday Night Live came on last night–where her ex-fiance is a cast member.

And, if you’ve been following the hot goss about him and her, post-breakup, he couldn’t really keep their former relationship out of his mouth.

And she was not happy about it.

The song, from a 25-year-old Cancer, is remarkably wise.

It’s also, as the kids say, a bop.

I honestly was taken off guard at how reflective this song was, how Grande at such a young age was able to channel her pain from former relationships (and Cancers know pain) into lessons learned, wisdom, and a more meaningful relationship to herself.

Seems like she did a lot of growing up from three years ago.

This idea of emotional alchemy, of taking your pain and turning into the gold of wisdom was on my mind all this past week.

I received my weekly Mindful Monday email from Vienna Pharaon, a marriage and family counselor who has a cool Instagram page.

The title of the email is “3 Things For A Happier + Healthier Life (And Relationship)” and the third thing was what jumped out at me:

“Start sharing your wisdom instead of your pain”

Not only is this a sign of healing–where you can mine your pain and wounds for the gold of your hard-fought wisdom–it means that you need to share that with others.

It made me think about the goal of this blog. I wanted it to be a chronicle of all the weird synchronicities and spiritual encounters I had. But then, they were happening so often, I found it hard to talk about.

From decades of journaling, writing about the pain of life has been pretty easy for me. It got to a point that I felt defined by my losses.

But in the back of my mind, I always thought and hoped that there would be some wisdom gained from reading what I wrote here.

There’s so much that I’ve worked out just in the past few weeks that has been healing for me, and I can see my wounds glittering with gold.

(Nerdy sidenote: gold is being researched as a way to aid the healing process of wounds!)

Pharon makes a distinction between grieving and recovering from loss and when one gets in a loop of telling the same story over and over.

Even for those, stuck on that carousel of sorrow–I have empathy. Sometimes, it can take a really long time to realize that things can change, that you can feel differently, that your pain doesn’t have to metastasize into bitterness and eat you alive from the inside out.

But if you are dizzy and want to get off and start walking in a new direction, then you can take a page from Grande’s song.

What have you learned from those seasons of pain? Where’s the wise gold that you’ve mined or made as you’ve pursued your healing?

Maybe you learned more about boundaries, or about self-worth, or perseverance, or listening to your intuition…the lessons, and the unique stories that they’re encased in, are endless.

And someone wants to hear about what you learned, about your journey–your story.

But as Pharaon says, that wisdom that you need to share shouldn’t be hiding out besides the story of pain.

But this has something I’ve struggled with, that there are lessons from this healing journey.

I know, I know, I know!

But that can get a bit…transactional. My pain for greater wisdom.

But maybe, instead of even focusing on exactly what you get out of the break-up, the death, the eviction, the lost job, the failed investment, the broken friendship, the sudden illness…there may be comfort in knowing you’ll get something out of it, that that what you went through, endured, and survived–it wasn’t for nothing.

Even enduring and surviving–there are lessons there. Someone could be in a similar place, drowning in despair, and then they hear your story of resilience. They know that they aren’t doomed.

This year especially, my own harrowing stories, along with the wisdom I’ve created and gleaned from my healing wounds have inspired me to keep going while I worked my way through my feelings.

I got to meet, or be reintroduced, to this hearty, sturdy, steadfast woman who stood with dignity and grace, no matter what arrows were being flung at her.

For once, for many times, I didn’t resent my resilience. I appreciated it.


And my healing journey continues…with intense dreams.

Yesterday, I wrote about healing dreams I had about another former friend on Patreon for my $10+/month subscribers.

Writing about that brought some closure, but also some sadness.

I realized that it was a barometer for where I was at with being close to people, and funny enough–after 40 years of really enjoying getting to know people, I really don’t want to dive deep into anyone’s soul anymore.

An image that came up while I wrote: a heart scarred shut.

I know it won’t stay that way forever. The real gold here is even realizing there are scars at all, that I have a collection of them–just like everyone else.

I don’t have to wear a tourniquet or apply pressure to help with the clotting process.

Scars mean that the bleeding is over–at the very least. Maybe there’s still lingering pain…or a space where there used to be flesh…but the immediate danger is over.

The scab is gone. The skin has sealed itself.

And for me, with people, this means that I don’t have to reach out in a panic.

I am safe, from within. And I don’t have to reach out in desperation. I can be choosy. 

I didn’t know I could be choosy.

That’s mainly because at church, it seemed like you were supposed to get along with everyone. So I tried to, for the greater good. A people pleaser for the community.

But here’s the thing–even in these tough times, there’s still some choices I can make.

For example, I don’t have to be so accommodating to the landlady here. She hasn’t earned it and that deference to her didn’t keep me safe here.

I get to redirect that energy and be nicer to myself instead. Ah, more gold!

So maybe you have some nuggets of gold from your life, just laying around and you haven’t appreciated your own resilience and wisdom.

Not only should you share it (with the right people), but you should appreciate it for yourself first.

That season of your life wasn’t a waste. That break-up had meaning. That job loss helped you after all.

These aren’t just silver linings that you are randomly gifted with. You forged these gifts in the fires of your soul.

And this isn’t even about destiny, fate, or the greater story of your life. You don’t have to telescope it out that far.

It’s just about this human thing we do–give meaning to things.

I encourage you this week to examine those old scars, those storms that have ended. You may have some gold hiding under untold stories.

You may find wisdom that help prevent future pain, for you or for someone else.


If you liked what you’ve read, I’d love your support as a patron on Patreon. Tiers starts at just $1/month. I blog about things that I don’t post here.

If you want to give a one-time gift or monthly gift, hit me up on Paypal.

Thanks for your support! 💘

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