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.
Hi Amanda, sounds like you ve had a busssy time lately and sound very satisfied with yourself
As Love is unconditional and unconditioned, the weed is as the flower, living matter. The judgement of course is what creates seperate-ness. The housewife is a good housewife if she does a good job of it, regardless if she s only 4’2″ and wears teeth or not.
Healing is simply a state from which ill is absent. It is the natural state of all that lives, in a perpetual balancing act. Everyone is a healer. Everyone heals themselves. (IMHO, the universe holds sacred space).
Letting things be as they are and remaining alert and grateful keeps the heart drumming peace.
Trust in your natural response. And rest after the marathon
Well done! Cheerios lindeelou
Well said, Amanda. The one who holds space, leads, teaches, heals has an obligation to have their own needs met. I am seeing that in at least 3 dimensions now: The Down and IN level: Deep inner healing and ongoing spiritual work. Material plane: quality food, rest, love, touch, replenishment, downtime, vacation, a touch of luxury, TLC. Expansion plane: continual learning and growing and developing one’s gifts to new levels. These are not separated, and can seem to blend together. I went a long time running on empty. Having to do a lot of catch up work no, with lots of support on all three levels. Who heals the healer? Your support team. Plan for it. Make it a requirement to keep doing the work, because it is. Thanks for bringing this topic visible. (PS. This much support usually takes an investment of money and needs time booked in the schedule. We have to factor it into the overhead we recoup in our professional fees.)
Yes. All of these things. Thanks for the articulate reminder and encouragement. Today is: healthy food, reading in the sunshine, deep tissue massage and a long walk.
Arnold Mindell said…
“Hence, you need an inner discipline and courage
to keep your mind on eternity while caring for the pain of the moment.”,
he meant that we need courage in order to find the path with heart…and…sometimes for me it is lonely to be on this path…and even though I know that wholeness is my natural state…I am always asking myself what take me out of it, why I forget?
Mostly, I try to ‘use’ what happens and remember that the ‘universe holds sacred space’ and spirit does the healing…but it’s all one and the same…
Here s an interesting read i just came upon for the second time.
In truth, I find the healer role is rather solitary. Culturally our communities have shifted away from the awareness that this role is necessary and vital in its contribution. It has lost value. This compounds the sense of isolation that I see in others on this way and experience on my own path.
It seems in previous cultures the Healer was more supported, time was given to them, shelter, some of the material plane needs were provided by the community they served in a more immediate way then now. I totally agree with you on the tendency for “spiritual bypass” bs that floats around, harmfully.
I find it interesting that someone like say Mother Theresa was plagued by awful crises of faith in her later years and was often beseeching the Pope for hope or proof of claim that god’s work was worthwhile. That Noam Chompsky agrees we are indeed, fucked, as a society. That many bright lights of positivity, go out in sudden flames ( Jonathon Cainer). That many spiritual traditions require the distractions of the flesh be outlawed makes total sense to me. As in the Buddhist way not Catholic, not a repression of physical celebration, rather a focusing of purpose. It is understandable to crave the physical but I don’t think it deeply feeds healers, its like sugar. Wrong plane. But when trying to blend with the muggles partnership is convenient avenue to hide amongst. Perhaps it is possible to find a deeply satisfying, roomy enough, intimate relationship that can accommodate the wide perimeter when one partner’s work is a healing, I just haven’t seen many. What a secure partner that would require.
Don’t under estimate the rejuvenating power of contraction. Directionally we are always focused outwardly, giving giving, spending. Timely retreat is a resting place and necessary tool used by activists and others whose work rides passion. We heal ourselves when we have the space to do so.
Its just a hard path and largely walked alone in my opinion.
But its a vocation after all. What can we do but answer the call.
Thanks for your comments. Lots to think about there. I’ll be taking it with me, but will comment briefly:
“It is understandable to crave the physical but I don’t think it deeply feeds healers, its like sugar. Wrong plane. But when trying to blend with the muggles partnership is convenient avenue to hide amongst.”
See…I hear what you’re saying, but I don’t know where I am with that. Mainly because I feel that part of the main reason we are here (or maybe it’s just a me thing?) is to DO the relating thing in the ways you mention below:
” Perhaps it is possible to find a deeply satisfying, roomy enough, intimate relationship that can accommodate the wide perimeter when one partner’s work is a healing, I just haven’t seen many. What a secure partner that would require.”
Secure, indeed. The codependency thing is so strong and can be so subtle and therefore difficult to identify. I see the analogy to it being like sugar, but I also know of the deep healing that can come from physical connection with another person. Those connections do deeply feed me, but I also recognize that part of my path seems to involve focusing on other ways of being fed and supported. Finding the right partners…well, that’s…the thing. And I’m not willing to put my life on hold waiting for it to happen *contemplative sigh*
Also, for anyone who’s interested — I just started reading the sequel to Starhawk’s “The Fifth Sacred Thing.” It’s called “City of Refuge” and it definitely touches on these subjects
Healing the healer
(sorry posted somehow (merc retro?)
Time out when needed.
otherwise surely healing is a coming together of minds and hearts on a problem. There is no hierarchy really because each time is unique, previous experience may or may not be relevant, one person is adept at knowing the reality of their question (it is theirs), the other helps clarify/find, and see the wood for the trees, the exit points, and skills that need to be in place, sometimes helping with timing etc etc etc – or something completely different. To the extent that the ‘healer’ and ‘healee’ are willing to put themselves in the mix and follow the ‘logic’ of the ‘meaning’ and what ‘coming to wholeness or realisation or closure’ (or whatever) means – the meeting is also ‘coloured’ by the wishes/preferences of both.
isn’t the healing both ways, or precising what you know, or teaching what you know, or receiving the knowledge another has on a given subject. And the lines aren’t just one way.
And always anchoring in the reality of now and its ‘concreteness’. is it practical? What would be practical? What is hidden from view? What constitutes a breakthrough here.
The technique I know is listening/tapping like you tap wood and listen for soundness/a true note or ‘faultlines’, and taking a bearing towards a true note. i use words, or just listening to the person or looking and listening to the conversation and after a while the next step becomes clear. I am a small player.
No hierarchy is possible? One seeks an honest opinion, a ‘professional’ (ie competence: someone who actually knows/can give practical aide/advice), another piece of the jigsaw, something that puts the curve back in, what is needful… things like this.
And always always you ask what is the motivation of each, and if you don’t like it or it is not ‘yours’ healing is with someone else. If the work is not helpful, likewise.
Personal responsibility from both.
(this is ‘in my experience’)
ps – hi Amanda!
With regard to contact with healers/like minds, at any given time if you ask of life/your body/heart/mind what is needful a directional answer always comes for that context. For me it will be things like ‘CS osteopathy’, or ‘kinesiology’ or ‘3 week detox/fasting/urinetherapy and 6 healing directions in 10 days in the middle’ ( acupuncture, craniosacral, integral body massage, polarity massage, fascia). I pay the going rate for these professionals holding space for me. In the year where I felt my health was on the line, a lump sum arrived and I spent it on food and space and care and was careful afterwards.
Perhaps you can get together with other healers – something like one or two day as week each gives his talents for a low price in a deprived area and there is one person who takes telephone bookings (all week) and receives people and 10 or 20 healers who work together in different rooms but who one day a month meet for logistic purposes and also to hear each other.
each brings something to share for lunch
support for healers – Amanda, two other ideas (spreading the load) – the women who run with the wolves time out ie half a day where you do things for you as you feel them and nothing is allowed to compromise it. Or a day from time to time, or an hour in the bath or what ever it is. or between 5 and 6 in the morning.
And the other is to join a group of healers with a purpose ie accompanying the dying. And this group are in small cells and do 3 workshops a year (anything to increase their skills, and they take it in turn to choose but they all go on them). So three times a year they have a natural retreat together with a focus on something – clowning, intro to gestalt, basic cranio, or modules they do each year (one a year), or anything. And they help each other with support all the time with those they accompany.