The Audacity to Heal by Elle Jeffries

How do you heal when it’s all so heavy?

Dear Healer/Healed/Healing,

Some of us find comfort in the quiet of our suffering. We build homes there, befriend the dark and the discomfort. Some of us wait for a savior, while the rest of us are afraid to be the savior. Healing is perceived to be a privilege, for the heaviness of our pasts weigh on us without relent. We carry more than our own baggage, our minds a perpetual loop of unclaimed luggage. How do you heal when it’s all so heavy? It is not without risk to exist outside of this space we’ve deemed home; finding a home in our healing is more difficult than we can imagine.

It all starts with inflammation. Something swells, grows to be much bigger than it should’ve ever been, making room where there was none. What’s left behind is an unsightly scar, something to be minimized, covered, and faded. ​The healing is uneven and bumpy. The woman you become, the one that is both real and imagined, has scabs; thick, raised, darkened skin. But underneath, there’s repair and revolution and long, daunting road. I’m reminded of this when I trace the dots on my face. I wear my acne scars now like they’re beauty marks, a sign of the healing I’ve done. Scars become the badges worn by the honorable and the honest, an audacious display of what I’ve traveled through. ​Gone to war and come home, I’m a veteran in my own right. Battles fought in the mirror and the bedroom, healing is to be conquered, to be met on the other side of this.

The physical scars, easy to see but difficult to look at, are addressed with urgency. I am quick to make a dermatology appointment, quick to “fix” what is not right about my skin, but I’m much slower to address the wounds that wait within. With these wounds that are embedded in the fibers of my being, the audacity to heal my womanness is a much bigger task. This womanness, this body I’ve inherited, was damaged before it could even be assumed. How dare I walk in the light now? To be straight-backed with a crown that reaches toward the sky. To be unwilling to accept any view that dims the stars. Who am I, now? With a curvy smile that matches the hips I’ve grown into. The audacity to heal, to peel back the layers I’ve worn for warmth, exposing my flesh to the cold truth and the hard, sharp things. Who am I, now?

The scars on my heart make love and vulnerability a painful journey. I’m reminded of past lovers, of being made a beggar, a supernova reduced to a small flame. The love I knew produced calloused hands from all of the crawling. I’d fallen short so often that being low, being a beggar, was more safe — I could sustain the tumble that way. Each failed attempt at love was like a branch that grew from the trunk of my truth, a truth I hadn’t fully explored for the roots were hidden deep in my soil. Some seeds are unknowingly planted by the people who care for us first. The roots run deep, thick and unending like a bloodline.

Healing is a radical act, an audacious choice, when it requires the undoing of all that you are. A demolition of your foundation. There is comfort in the quiet of our suffering, but there is liberation in the healing.


Hoping to Heal.


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