Healing Is Not Linear
Expatiation: noun. to move or wander about intellectually, imaginatively, etc.,without restraint.
On this day two years ago, I published my first blog post with IES Abroad as I prepared for my study abroad journey in Granada, Spain. This post, titled “Expatiation”, received Editors Choice Award, and I received Blogger of the Year for my blog that semester.
A portion of that post reads, “Normally, at this point in my winter break, the end of it, I’m dying to go back to school, to absolve myself of Home and instead indulge in whatever college has to offer me once again. This time, though, I’m finding myself in a sense of peace. I don’t desire to be here or there, and I don’t feel stuck in an in-between either. Instead, I feel ready for whatever challenges I may have to overcome before me and whatever challenges I may have to overcome within myself. This time around being home has largely been a state of cleansing and redirecting myself to healthy spaces.”
Now, two years later, in my 22nd year, I find myself seeking the same peace I had then. And two years later, I find myself coming upon the realization that the peace will come, but it will render a new face.
I have been reflecting on photos and people and selves, trying to pull whatever I can to piece together my current lesson as a whole. In many ways, I’m still realizing that lessons repeat themselves until you learn them and even after, they come back to remind you and nudge you from time to time when doubt arises. Some of us can call this being trapped or haunted but instead I think of it more as forced rest. Looking at the woman in the picture I included for this post, I see someone who pushed past her own fears and struggles, whose body had just undergone a week of literally gut-wrenching illness, (who had no idea she was going to be back in the hospital the same day), but who survived it all and grew beyond her best still. I spent two weeks in the hospital at the end of my study abroad journey, sick with a stomach virus that in 14 days made me drop exactly 14 pounds. While I can recall my time hospitalized in flashes, as I was mostly on pain meds and whatever they gave me to help me sleep allll the time, I recall most that I hated being in the hospital for so long, wanted to be with my mom probably the most since birth, and really missed IHop pancakes and movie theater popcorn. My relationship with hospitals has been love/hate since. However, the time there, in between the actual illness, gave me a chance to reflect on my semester, to write, to ask myself an important question I asked long ago and am asking now: If you were standing in front of yourself, what would you say to yourself? What advice would you give? How would you get through this?
“This” changes with time and with life. And I’ve noticed the mind does something similar to the body when under a severe amount of stress. Similar to being hospitalized or put on bed rest while the body heals, the mind will shut down or demand a chance to reprieve. My mind has been in and out of this space. In my new years and life resolution to be kinder to myself, I’m calling my time away from my website and social media in general a necessary hiatus instead of a failure. I’m aware that I’ll be weaving in and out of this hiatus (and actually probably more in than out) as I figure out other parts of my life.
In this, I am reminded, and have been constantly since I’ve graduated undergrad, that healing is not linear. In fact, little in life rarely is. Growth is not linear, nor is loss, strength, happiness, or any form of emotion or change.
I am striving every day to be a better version of my previous self and understand that this also means some days are full of stagnation and silence, some full of what would supposedly be downfall, and others full of euphoria and a sense of accomplishment. I am striving every day to do the best I can with what I have in this present moment. I am striving every day to be more and more grateful and appreciate the days as the blessings they are.
In my mind, my creative energy has been lacking lately. And in retrospect, my energy for many things has been lacking. Yet, I am proud of myself for even the small accomplishments, such as putting up a blog post and challenging myself yet again. Selling at least one book a month since its release, learning to market, and never giving up on myself. Finally cleaning my room completely and putting away all of my laundry.
As I prepare to embark on more expatiation and another blessed year of life, I also accept embarking on another year of learning, of failure, and of perseverance. This is all a process and none of it is guaranteed to be anything other than what I make it — what you reading this, make it. It will get hard, but don’t give up.
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” — J.K. Rowling
Always sending love.
- Ashley Mae