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What it takes to be a healer

Updated: Feb 10, 2020

I spent some time with a colleague today. He is a kindred spirit, my chosen family, a dear friend, and most of all, he’s a wounded healer like me.

He’s also a misfit like me, but he is a clean cut, good-looking guy who easily passes for “normal.”

We talk often about the nature of our work. It’s a safeguard against burnout and it’s a chance to brainstorm and get better at what we do. We look like a couple of middle aged guys geeking out over our work, except:

We’re talking about things that would make most people terribly uncomfortable: different forms of trauma, heinous abuse, self-destruction, and how to best facilitate and support recovery from them.

There’s a simple choice when you make your living baring witness to pain: Grow spiritually or get a new career. Too many of my colleagues are ineffective because they have not attended their own wounds.

I’m a good therapist because I’ve gotten a lot of really good therapy. Today, I am primarily a therapist who serves other healers. Ripple effects.

The nature of my work is such that I am frequently inspired by the resiliency and bravery of those I serve. I am not desensitized to the horrific narratives of what people survive, but neither am I afraid.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for thou art with me.” – 23rd Psalm

Maintaining a conscious connection to my Higher Power allows me to explore the darkness of people’s lives relatively unscathed. If you’re a misfit like me then you can understand this:

For a long time, it f@cked me up that it didn’t f@ck me up.

What does it say about me that I only want to serve those who have suffered greatly? It says that I love helping folks find their way out of their personal hell. What makes me good at understanding another person’s hell is having survived and moved out of my own.

Hell exists wherever people suffer alone and without hope. It’s a very dark place and my job is to help shine some light. Darkness is evil.

Evil is simply a force. It’s hard to define and it comes in countless forms. The disease of addiction. Rape. Incest. Hatred. Betrayal. Violation. Bullying. I don’t personify evil as demonic or Satanic.  I see it as a misuse of power by sick minds exercising free will.

This is all the more reason to grow spiritually. The hardest part of which is overcoming the fear that you’re doing everything wrong (including seeking a Higher Power). There are no instructions, nor clear cut signs that say, “Go here” or “Do this.”

The God of my understanding works through the kindred spirits in my life. I keep myself in their company. I seek the next connection my HP wants me to make and to give and receive as led.

So, I spent some time with a new friend today. I have known them peripherally for a long time and have seen incredible potential. It’s obvious – they’re already doing great things and have overcome so much. They have lofty goals, tons of talent, and all the fears and self-doubt that come with having a spiritual calling.

“For of those to whom much is given, much is required” – Robert Kennedy paraphrasing Luke 12:48

Each new relationship is an investment. I get to teach what I’ve learned. I get to practice what I preach. I get to be a work in progress and to never stop learning. Passion offsets fear, and vulnerability takes care of the rest.

Being a healer is not a profession. It is a lifestyle. It has taken me most of my lifetime to begin to understand so many things I have long known. Highest among them is this:

The best revenge is living well.

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