I wish had met Rilke: I think he would have a lot to say about healing and growth because his poems really get to the heart of healing and growth. That heaviness, that wobbly-ness- which he somehow elevates to a sacred place. It’s so much more comforting to feel like your wobbly-ness is sacred than to feel like it's some character flaw. It’s amazing how much we all want solid ground, the solid of experience of knowing exactly where we are. And yet, the very definition of growth and healing is to move into a new beginning—a new space that you have not yet inhabited.
Initially it can feel like those first tentative steps you take on ice in the winter where you tap your toe out ahead of you, unsure of whether to put your full weight on your feet. Will this new ground hold me? Can I really put my weight into this new way of being?
Recently I was on a walk to the woods and I came upon a Goshawk in a dead tree. I was captivated by his regal stance, and stood watching trying to keep my dog still. When I started to move it seemed I caught the hawk off-guard and he leapt off the tree and instead of launching up, he fell for a bit and then caught his stride and began to fly. Like Rilke tells us, sometimes you need to fall before you can fly.
The big myth about healing from trauma is that it is some sort of linear process where you are ‘done’ with that. Whatever that is for you. I am not saying things don’t change, or that you don’t really shift in how you understand and approach the world. But I can say that there are plenty of times when you think you are just going to solidly launch from your branch and instead you must fall patiently. Yes you won’t know when it will happen, but you will eventually catch the wind under your wings.
© Gretchen L. Schmelzer, PhD 2016