By Amanda Moreno
Sometimes I wish I could predict when my more introverted phases would occur. After fighting the script for a while, I’m quite aware that the side of me that needs alone time to recharge is quite real, but that sometimes it’s more real than others.
After a few weeks spent assisting at some pretty intense trainings, my reserves are almost entirely depleted and decompression has been a stunted process due to some traveling I’ve done just after the trainings ended.
Although I’m immensely grateful to get to do the work I do, all I want to do is be alone in my own energy for a while, maybe get a massage or four, and not hold space for anyone else’s process — I have no idea where I am in my own.
A question that’s been floating through my mind lately is: who heals the healer? I suppose you could substitute other people for ‘healer’ here — who nurtures the mother? Who holds space for the therapist? Who holds up the leader when the leader feels weak or exhausted?
I should be honest here. I have somewhat of a stubborn resistance to using the term ‘healer’ to describe myself. There are many reasons. I can be distrustful when I hear the term flung around, and have similar suspicions when someone not in an indigenous culture calls themself a shaman. I don’t quite trust that humility will win out over hubris. Perhaps that’s my own shadow coming out.
The biggest reason, however, is not so much a denial of who I am or what I do — which is to say that I do in fact facilitate healing processes — but instead probably has to do with the fact that I very much believe in the importance of people learning how to heal themselves. Not in a vacuum and not without the help and support of friends, family, community and those in the healing professions who can guide and advise; yet primarily through their own direct efforts. I will probably never use the term ‘healer’ on my website or in practice because I don’t want to give people an opening to hand me all of their power.
Our culture is very much based on the teachings and quite insidious philosophies of several salvation-based religions. More specifically speaking, the major religions of the world in one way or another teach that life in these human bodies is suffering, and that we need something outside of ourselves to save us — or that only when we die will we attain a state of non-suffering.
Some religions financially capitalize on these beliefs. Some teach us to transcend, which often just looks to me like spiritual bypassing, especially when taken out of the religion’s original cultural context and placed into a culture like ours, where headlines and taglines reign supreme. Some teach us that buying something — be it a new yoga mat, TV or pharmaceutical — will be the insta-fix to what ails us.
I’m also increasingly aware of the ways codependency is romanticized in our relationship models. I just read an article based on one woman’s experiences that hit pretty close to home. She was talking to her younger self — the self who would listen to her lovers’ woes, help them to dissect their psychological complexes, and allow herself to be used as a developmental tool for them without receiving much in return. Codependency can occur when we base our sense of self-worth on the identity we are given by another. In this case, it would be the identity of savior or martyr.
At this point in my life, I have moved to the other end of the spectrum romantically speaking. When a man walks in who starts using me as a counselor right off the bat, I get cranky and the thoughts that go through my head are less than supportive. Although I will mention my difficulty right off the bat, red flags start blaring in my head. On the other hand, when a man comes in who mentions being in therapy and talks about things he’s learned from past relationships and ways he identifies his own triggers or complexes, and ways he’s dealt with his own trauma, I get all warm and tingly inside. I don’t want to save anyone but myself.
That’s not to say there isn’t a place for supporting, communicating, and working things out in relationship. Of course there is — there has to be! But I’m so over playing the role of healer or therapist in my relationships. I’m doing my own work, and I’m insistent that those I’m romantically invested in do as well. In that way, we enter an interdependent, potentially co-healing dynamic. I’m much more interested in that than in being someone else’s savior.
It takes some serious balls to face your own suffering and begin to work with it, understand it, transform it and heal it. At this point, it would seem we all need intensive healing — and there is no one-size-fits-all formula.
As someone who definitely consults with and makes use of the services of many different types of healers, I know the value of having friends along the way. As someone who tends to crave a partner who can just hold me at the end of the day and not ask me any questions, I understand the nuances of relating and figuring out needs and wants and asking for them. I also tend to fall at the far end of the “no one else is responsible for meeting my needs, and I need to own my own shit” spectrum, which I realize is not a way of life that is meant for everyone.
But asking someone to do the work for me? Or to tell me flat out what I should do in a given situation? That just seems too disempowering even if I crave the ease of it from time to time. We seem so trained to fling our power outside of ourselves. What we have to reclaim, I believe, is our ability to create our own realities through experience and plunging into it, getting feedback about what works and what doesn’t through our own physical and emotional bodies as well as the insight of others, and then making adjustments accordingly.
In my romantic relationships, I’m happy to offer up all that I am to worthy partners, but I’ve had some tough lessons along the path of learning how to be discerning about what “worthy partners” means to me. I don’t want to be taken for granted.
In my friendships and family relationships, I heartily believe in love with detachment much of the time. I try to be present and supportive, but also let my loved ones make their own decisions and find their own paths. With my clients, I do my best to be friend and ally and to speak honestly when asked questions. These answers always come with the disclaimer that the client’s own experience and autonomy trump my beliefs.
My role as I see it is to help people to relocate the power of healing back within their own heart center in order to re-awaken the root, sacral and solar plexus centers of security, sexuality and power — whether I’m doing that as astrologer, coach, or guide through past lives and the afterlife.
I am sometimes enraged at the ways in which our culture — which I will here refer to as the patriarchy — has cut us off from our own power. Someone recently mentioned to me the horror of the burning times, when so many were burned at the stake, with flames that burned out the power centers of their chakra systems one by one. I’d never really thought of it that way.
I also believe that we’re all complicit in everything that has taken place. We’ve all participated in one way or another in human history, as perpetrator and as victim.
And so for those of us who can and want to seek outside guidance and support, I’m grateful for groups of people I would refer to as ‘healers,’ even just because it’s an easy label to use, and even if I don’t like using it for myself. Be it for objective listening or for the guidance of someone who has knowledge of systems we haven’t had time or interest in studying.
As for my original question — who heals the healer? — one wise friend responded with the answer of “the universe.” I sense a truth in that. There’s power there. But it does not account for my own need for human companionship, particularly among those who see through to the core of who I am and are strong enough to hold space for me.
Taking that a step further, it does not account for my need to be held and physically touched by those types of individuals. My soul and spirit seem to be in agreement that my human body needs the comfort of physical touch, even if I’m just wanting to be alone.
There seems to be a quiet conundrum surrounding that need, with which I’m existing in tension at the moment. I don’t like that I see so many healing types around me who are somewhat isolated by the very nature of the work they do. We are one group among many who need community and connection with kindreds to be available — and hopefully that’s something the universe will continue to work with us on.