Not all departures from a religious experience require healing. Some people never really connect with their religion of origin and walk away unscathed and unchanged, free to explore spirituality unencumbered. However, if you are like me and you experienced religious wounding or trauma, part of your journey away from that religion required healing and reconciliation to occur.
Week 4 of “Releasing Religion, Inner Healing, and Coming Home to Yourself” is centered in healing. Identifying what types of healing you might need, where to get healing, healing practices, healing modality and finding the right combination to ensure optimal restoration for you. I begin with a quote by Caroline Myss, “The soul always knows what to do to heal itself, the challenge is to silence the mind.”
A common practice in my religious experience was listening to other people tell me what I needed. If I was struggling with something, they also had a religious prescription that they felt was best for me. I was constantly being torn away from myself, from my inner wisdom and guidance. So when I decided to walk away, part of the healing was listening to myself.
I had to look at my healing collectively. There was a lot to unpack. There was the old wounding and trauma. The new wounding and trauma. The wounding incurred by my family and friends who rejected and shunned me. There was all the internal pain I was holding against myself. And lastly, there was the wounding and trauma from the religious institution itself.
There were many days where I vacillated between my new and old wounds coming up and trying to sit with the pain and feel it all. I knew that I needed professional help, first and foremost to get me through this experience. I was lucky enough to be working and have an insurance company that helped cover mental health services, I know not everyone is this fortunate.
I discuss in the summer series about how personal my family took my departure from my religion of origin and for the first few years after my leaving. At first I didn’t know how to maintain relationships with my family who were always challenging my decision and ultimately distanced themselves from me for an extended period of time. Which in that moment was painful, it was a rejection and wounded me deeply. In hindsight it gave me the ability to create healthy boundaries and to discern who I allow into my inner circle and just because someone is of familial connection, does not guarantee or give them the right to be in my inner circle. Having this distance and practices safe boundaries allowed me just enough footing to explore my new life, my thoughts, and my new ideas without the judgement of others.
A visual aid that helped me in therapy to build strong boundaries was the picture of a circular maze. We discussed how each individual is in the center of their own circular maze and the people who orbit our lives, reside anywhere on the inner and outer rings of the maze depending on how relationships, trust, experiences, and bonds were built. If a person violates us, wounds us, or causes us harm they get pushed to the outer rings of the maze because a boundary has been violated. You will notice each ring has an opening, a doorway from which people can come closer and move further away. Our boundaries can be fluid as we just our discretion and what is in our best interest to determine who is allow to orbit closely to the light of our being.
Having these healthy boundaries is critical to healing. We need space to allow our wounds enough time to heal what we have gone through in our religious experience and the fallout from that departure. Creating space to forgive the people and institutions who hurt us is important on our healing journey. Speaking our truth in our journals and to other people about our experience, to move it out of our minds and bodies and into the light of truth is so important. Moving your physical body in the process of healing is critical because we know now from science that trauma lives inside the body. There are many tools from which to draw your own healing path, to help you along your way I’ve listed out the ones that helped me.
Healing modalities I relied on most to heal my religious wounding and trauma experience:
You can complete the full 8 week course by clicking the links below that will lead you all 8 weeks.
Week 3: Embracing Uncertainty
Week 5: Awakening