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The Orange Journal

This Is Why You Should Be Healing in Community

Healing in isolation can only take you so far

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Doing life alone

If you’ve ever experienced any type of relational trauma — be it in friendships, familial relations, or romantic relationships — you may be all too familiar with the feelings of subtle aversion to any type of human connection that requires consistent relating beyond the surface.

Moreover, if you’ve ever been plagued by mental illness, particularly depression, then you may be all too familiar with the urge of rejecting human connection because you don’t want people to see just how bad your mind can get and how frequent your triggers can be.

Either way, in both cases, community just doesn’t feel like it’s worth it.

However wrong you are, you feel as if there is something fundamentally wrong with you that prevents you from ever truly fitting in with others and the only thing that makes sense to you is for you to do life alone.

After all, when you’re alone, you won’t project your melancholic feelings onto others. When you’re alone, the only person who’ll see your running list of imperfections is yourself. When you’re alone, no one can break you further into the already broken pieces that you are.

Nonetheless, even on the off-chance that you do consider that doing life alone might not be as appealing, let alone practical, there’s the only partially flawed solution of going under the radar, working on yourself, and only coming back once you’ve reached a “fully healed” mental state.

Essentially, the only thing that makes sense to you is to heal in isolation.

Healing in isolation

Sometimes, life requires us to be alone.

Introverts and misanthropes reading this and thinking, “No sh*t, Sherlock.”

However, I don’t mean it in the Netflix and series marathon weekend kind of way. I don’t mean it in the art painting, salted baths, and facial skin care routines kind of way.

And I certainly don’t mean it in the I hate humans at the moment kind of way.

These can all be indulgent ways of honouring alone time from day to day, however, there’s more.

There are times when life just doesn’t make sense and an urgent long period for introspection and regeneration is required.

According to the medically reviewed online magazine, VeryWellMind, this usually occurs after a traumatic event that negatively impairs our day-to-day functioning, i.e., a job loss, the death of a loved one, abuse (emotional, physical, or sexual), or the end of a relationship, etc.

And it is in those events we have to self-heal.

We can do this by waking up every morning and practicing self-compassion through affirmations. We can do this by engaging in shadow work and self-introspection through journaling our thoughts.

We can do this by practicing self-awareness and self-soothing through meditation and yoga. And we can do this by reading good self-help books and applying what we have learned from them.

This is good.

This is moving in the right direction.

This is us taking responsibility for our healing and self-development by being mindful of what our triggers are and how we can act better moving forward.

However, this is not enough.

This is not enough if what we are learning is not being applied — if it is not being practiced.

You’ll think you’ve “fully self-healed” until you get into a deep connection with someone, and then suddenly find all your core relational wounds being triggered, all subsequent of not having done relational healing.

Because the truth is, some healing needs to be done with others.

We need guidance, support, and assistance from the people who care for us in order to heal these relational wounds so we can cultivate wholesome and non-toxic newer relationships.

Essentially, we need people.

“Show me where you hurt so I know where to love you most.” — H. D. Carlton, Does it Hurt?

People need people

Relational Recovery, a medical centre for relational rehabilitation, defines relational healing as:

“The imperfect, courageous and vulnerable act of allowing yourself to know and be known by others in ways that heal past wounds, change you, nourishes your authentic self and well-being.”

This is because being in relationship with others helps us to identify our blind spots.

The only way to gauge our healing progress is by seeing how we are with others — to see to what extent our emotional wounds affect the way we relate with others so we can work on mending them.

However, this can only work with people who are aware of what we’ve been through and genuinely care for us and our progress.

This can only work with people who see us and with whom we’ve built a solid foundation of vulnerability, unadulterated trust, and safety.

They are the people who will hold up a mirror to us and challenge us to face our oh so imperfectly perfect selves.

They are the people who will compassionately point out our shortfalls and gently help us rectify them.

They are the people who will walk with us as we correct our internal monologues, thus correcting our behaviours, and eventually correcting the way we’ll relate with the rest of the world.

In community and in relationship, is the only way we can truly heal.

𝕌𝕟𝕥𝕚𝕝 𝕟𝕖𝕩𝕥 𝕥𝕚𝕞𝕖, ℕ𝕠𝕝𝕨𝕒𝕫𝕚 (:

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Nolwazi Sangweni

Essayist for the 20-something covering mindfulness, self-growth, and mental health. For collaborations, e-mail: