As a clinician, I have held space for people who have been through some terrible things. Rapes, incest, electrocutions, war, bombings, terrorist attacks, famine, starvation, persecution, and all sorts of violence and harm that this world can bring… often from the people that were intended to keep us safe and to tell us that the world is a safe place to be.

I have been told in the past that no matter how deep the trauma, no matter how horrible the trauma that we can heal fully.

Lately I have been thinking about this, and if this is in fact true. It is a good PR line, isn’t it? It is what we truly want to believe… that no trauma is insurmountable, that we can go from being broken to being healed. That no matter what we have experienced we can go back to the way things were, and that we just need to simply let go of the emotions and pain associated with the experience, to “erase our story”, to gather up the parts of self that have disassociated or wandered off, and to move on.

My objective here is not to be a pessimist, but a thoughtful realist about this subject. I truly think we can heal. We can heal so much from really difficult circumstances. And I am talking about difficult traumas here– meaning the sort of darkness and even evil that can be visited on some of us.

I am not talking about every-day trauma here… we all have trauma, and by looking at the spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional aspects of it we can heal.

I am talking about the type of darkness that some of us know all too well- the deep dark family secret, severe childhood neglect, plane crashes, famine, incest, murder of a loved one… I could go on, but my point I feel has been made.

When we experience these types of events they change us at our core. They imprint us. There are some imprints that can clear, that can be cleared, there are so many events that can be healed and worked with… but there are some events that create such a chasm that they cannot be healed fully, nor should they be, really.

Let me explain. Even if we have experienced something truly terrible in our lives, we can officially heal. We can forgive everyone involved, release the emotion(s) involved in the event, and not want to change anything about what happened. We can move beyond blindly repeating the patterns from the trauma– the beliefs and behaviors that have been ingrained in us from a trauma. It happened, and it happened to us, and we have accepted that, and have moved on.

This is official healing. All of those things I listed– basically what healing is is not being “okay” with everything, but releasing everything and everyone to the extent that there is no reason for any part of us to be stagnant there, to constantly be retelling the story again and again in our minds (or to others) as a loop.

And more than that, we no longer feel the need to change anything. It was horrible, it was difficult, but we accept that it has happened and no longer have the “what if’s” and the “if only” or the type of rage, powerlessness, or grief that hangs over our former selves who experienced this.

But we can have officially “healed”, we can have no part of ourselves spiritually lingering at the event, we can take the loop apart, we can mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually heal from this event… and we can still be technically “unhealed”.

What does this mean? It means that there are certain events in our lives that change us. They change us physiologically. They change us mentally. They change our very spiritual makeup.

If we have been harmed by another, or by the world we now have the understanding and the direct experience that the world or other people have that ability to harm us. If we have directly experienced evil, or devastation, panic, hunger, or fear to the point that we can physiologically recall it, there is no denying that these things exist. We can have new-age gurus tell us that “evil” doesn’t exist all they want, if we have directly experienced it we know to the depths of our soul that it does.

These events create a spiritual imprint. This can be seen in your field– they actually look like stamps. Faces, snapshots of events, and the type of energy someone who has witnessed or been a part of a cataclysmic event has in their field without exception.

We can talk about “clearing” or “releasing our story” or whatever the new spiritual trend is all we want… there are some events that change us. They change who we are. And it doesn’t mean that we are unhealed, it means that we have the direct experience and knowledge of something, a depth of knowledge of something, that few people know.

It makes us into an odd sort of club. And before this gets way too dark, I will say again that it is possible to heal from things, to really and truly not want the events of our past to change, no matter what they were. To let go of the emotions, and the pain, and whatever else is there from it.

But people who have known this type of pain, these type of events have a depth to their soul that cannot be erased. And this, believe it or not, is a good thing. It is a rare thing. It means that you have a depth of understanding about the world, about yourself, and about the nature of things that few do (or would want to). It means that if you are able to get to that healed state that you can hold space, bear witness, and help others who are struggling to get to that place of healing…

Because people who have experienced this naturally gravitate towards one another. They may not see the “stamp”, but they will understand that you have had this depth of experience. In some cases this creates further difficulty, as people still in the “chaos” portion of their unhealed states may gravitate towards another, but in other cases this can create people who can truly help others figure out their suffering, to heal in a way that only someone who has borne witness to this type of event can.

It is not easy to look out on the world after experiences like this. To realize that no matter what you do that the experience will always be with you. But the type of person who has experienced this has a depth of their soul that few others have, and can be of service to others who are their journey to healing in a way that most other healers, clinicians, teachers (or insert job here) cannot. We cannot bear witness to another’s pain if we have not seen it ourselves. 

For clarity, I do not mean even the same type of pain here.. the same sort of event. But if you have known the world and suffering with a certain depth of soul, it can facilitate a very deep path for yourself, and can allow for you to eventually be of service to others who are walking that same path in a way few can. It is a beautiful thing, to heal, and to be of service. One naturally extends into the other, whether we take on the label of “healer” or we are simply there for friends, or for family who will look to us for the type of depth-of-soul advice and support only someone who has been there can provide.