We live in a world where our value is measured by tangible, visible results- such as wealth, status, beauty and social media followers. Inner healing work- which primarily happens on the mental, emotional and spiritual levels, can often be some of the most challenging work we do, the most rewarding work we do and yet also the least visible and least valued.
If you are healing your childhood wounds or ancestral trauma, doing your shadow work, or living with chronic illness, I see you. If you are raising the next generation in the ways you wish you were raised or if you are helping others heal- I see you, too. Much of this work does not offer an immediate, tangible reward for our efforts. Nor can it always be translated through social media or necessarily even talked about with friends or family.
It is an act of deep courage and rebellion to heal. Colonial, capitalistic, patriarchal powers don’t care about our healing, wellness or wholeness. They only see our productive value in how well we keep the machine going. It takes a ton of energy, time, and persistence to heal the past, care for ourselves and move forward in new ways.
To let go of old stories, old selves and re-create ourselves anew is a big deal. To go through the fires of transformation and rise from the ashes is an incredible accomplishment. These experiences that empower, strengthen, and heal us can change the entire trajectory of our life.
Our inner healing work might be the most important work we ever do. It’s the work that will matter on our death beds and the work that will reverberate through the world when we leave. What we do to liberate ourselves also liberates the generations to come.
For those of us who are parents, it is often our children that mirror to us the emotional work we need to do. Our efforts to change the patterns that affected us growing up are part of our own healing journey. We do our best helping our children grow up and we hope that in their adult years the results of our efforts might be seen. Parenting is often an invisible labour, but one that transforms lineages past and future.
Sometimes healing is noticed as subtle a change in behaviour, as a new inner lightness or deeper self-awareness and acceptance. Sometimes we have brilliant revelations or make huge steps forward. Yet, often these changes are noticed only by ourselves or those very close to us. It is important that we recognise and value how far we’ve come. It is important that we revel in the beauty of our inner growth and the enjoy the fruits of our labours.
My Healing Journey
My experience of personal healing was spurred in large part by raising my daughter, as well as my experience living with chronic pain from endometriosis.
Many years of therapy, natural medicines, surgery, medications and spiritual healing helped me process and release deep layers of pain. Self-healing became central to my life in my 20s and 30s, even though I wanted to just get on with a career, or distract myself with fun, my body wouldn’t let me. It just was not in the cards for that to be my focus. My healing had to come first, and much of it came through being a mom and having chronic illness.
I have been called to process the pain of my female child-bearing lineage, to heal through layers of sexual shame and trauma, to un-do ancestral Catholic guilt, to heal my childhood, reclaim my body, my independence, develop my Inner Mother while mothering my daughter and dealing with the many ups and downs of marriage that come along with it.
I am still doing much of this work, as healing often goes in a spiral form, and I come around to new levels of the work as time goes on.
Even though I have done and continue to do a lot of this work, I often go through bouts of self-criticism, where the internalized judge tells me I have done nothing of value. That because I have focused so much on healing, I now don’t have ‘a real job’, and I am somehow a lesser being. That there isn’t really something visible or tangible to show for it all.
Some days, I really struggle with feeling like I don’t make an impact. Alot of what I do in a day (aside from when I see clients) doesn’t give me a sense of having accomplished anything even though I am very busy working behind the scenes for my business, doing my spiritual-emotional healing or nurturing home and family.
This is all due to social conditioning, the capitalist mindset of what has value and meaning in this world.
Motherhood, emotional labour & boundaries
Mothers are still not recognised or valued for the important work we do- both on the inner levels and the contribution to humanity. On the surface, much of what a mother does looks mundane, small, and meaningless. Yet, all of those actions, including the invisible work, determine the future. Raising the next generation is no small task.
The other day, despite all my usual flea-prevention efforts, I spent 4.5 hours dealing with an infestation. I was cleaning every crevice of the house, doing endless laundry, bagging blankets and stuffed animals to control it. The house looked clean but exactly as it did the day before. If I hadn’t told my husband about it when he came home from work, he wouldn’t have noticed that I’d done anything. Thankfully, I’ve gotten the fleas under control, but it was a reminder of how invisible many of my daily tasks are.
Like many moms, and because I am a healer type, I tend to carry the emotional labour and mental load in my family and life in general.
Some days are all about helping my daughter get through a tough time, dealing with the psyches of my loved ones, healing our family dynamics or battling my inner demons.
As a nurturing type of person, I enjoy giving this energy and supporting my loved ones and friends emotionally. I know that it is much needed in this world. However, in our society, the burden falls particularly on women and feminine folks to care for the mental, emotional and physical well-being of others, often at the expense of ourselves. Emotional labour is often expected of us, rather than an option and is present in families, intimate relationships and workplaces.
This has often made me angry and this anger supported me in creating boundaries.
A lot of my healing journey has been about accepting the nurturer I am, but also training this part of me to have boundaries.
Sometimes we need to ask ourselves: Do I need more space and time to myself? Do I need to delegate? Do I need to communicate more clearly what is and isn’t ok for me now?
Sometimes we need to take a moment to recognise how important our behind the scenes work is. Just because it isn’t seen or valued, doesn’t mean it isn’t important. I would argue that it is essential. All our inner work ripples out into the world around us. All those small, undervalued actions make up the bigger picture. They help love and humanity thrive. Eventually, tangible changes are visible. It just takes some time to see it.
Measuring Success & Making an Impact
How do we measure success when it comes to our inner healing? How do we know if all the invisible emotional and spiritual work we are doing is making the impact we want it to- on the world, for future generations?
Some of it will always be impossible to see or quantify. But I believe our presence and energy makes ripples through the world, and this cannot be entirely seen. We touch the lives of those around us simply by existing. Just walking down the street, being ourselves, radiating our unique vibe, can be felt by those around us and makes a difference.
One time, I was underground on the subway platform, and I briefly caught the energy of this woman standing a couple metres away. Something about her made me think she was an older university student, (I have no idea if this was true) and it woke up this unconscious desire in me, this new sense of direction I didn’t realise was dormant within me.
About a year or so later, I decided to go to school for social work in my mid-thirties. I realized after I had graduated that my energy had changed and vibrated in a similar way to that woman on the subway.
She had awakened within me a whole journey without even making eye contact, or speaking to me. Just by existing.
You never know how your energy might affect others.
Reflect on your internal, invisible accomplishments
Think about a year ago, three years ago, ten years ago. What is different now? How have you grown? What have you survived? What small everyday things have slowly produced results? How has your inner work changed how you navigate life?
I find it helpful to make a list of my accomplishments- ones that maybe only I can appreciate as a result of my inner healing or the small acts of nurturing nobody notices.
Below is my current ‘invisible accomplishments’ list, to remind myself that what I do matters:
- My daughter is living and breathing, expressing herself in ways I didn’t feel I could.
- My body now has the ability to do more than it used to.
- I now have a deepened self-awareness and ability to care for myself.
- I know what healthy boundaries feel like.
- I am less or no longer triggered by things that used to trigger me.
- I am becoming more accepting of myself and ok with who I am every day.
- I am able to publicly be a witch and not afraid to say I read tarot cards and do spiritual healing for a living.
- My partner and I are still happily married after many years and ups and downs.
- My garden is growing medicines and beautiful flowers, thanks to my care.
- My home is keeping us safe and nourished, thanks to my care.
- Our family and cats are healthy thanks to my support and care.
- Our family can laugh and joke every day, even on the bad days.
If you feel called to, try making a list for yourself!
You are sacred, and everything you do matters. You touch people’s lives around you in significant ways- even if you don’t know it or see it. You are creating a ripple effect around you and through your lineage.
We are intricately woven into the fabric of all life- through the land, sea, sky and stars. We are part of everything around us. We live and breathe in cycles of life, death, rebirth and becoming. We matter in this human life, and make a difference simply by being.
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As a Witch who makes her home and practice in Tkaronto (Toronto) Ontario, I deeply thank the original stewards of this land: The Mississaugas of the Credit, Mississaugas of Scugog, Alderville, Hiawatha & Curve Lake; The Chippewas of Beausoleil, Rama & Georgina island, the Haudenosaunee and Wendat nations. I acknowledge the resilience of the First Nation, Inuit and Metis people who live and work here in the present, in a system of inequity and oppression. I am working on uncolonising my own practice, amplifying Indigenous voices and supporting Indigenous communities in whatever way I can.