The Path of the Wounded Healer

Part One:  The Call to Adventure

By Tonya Madia

Two months ago I received one of the most exciting packages to ever arrive for me in the mail, the proof copy of my first book. It was a moment I had been anticipating for most of my life from the time I had decided that I wanted to be a writer at the age of 12. Holding the proof copy in my hands was exciting and exhilarating and my mind raced with the details of the adventure I was about to embark on. I had already scheduled the venues and dates for several book talks, signings and workshops and I was anxious to get started.

Three days later I received a call that would set me on the path to a very different adventure. It wasn’t a call in the literal sense, but rather the kind of call described by author and mythologist Joseph Campbell in his narrative pattern described as The Hero’s Journey. The timing of the call, defined by Campbell as the hero’s Call to Adventure, was ironic, arriving as it did just as I was about to set out on a different adventure; an adventure I had planned.

The call itself didn’t surprise me. It was a call I had received many times over the years; a call I had refused each and every time it came. But the thing about The Hero’s Journey is, if the hero refuses the call, there is no adventure. The thing about the adventure is that it is a necessary part of our development. Without it we can’t fully realize our potential and can never find our Bliss. Our Bliss is our dharma, our purpose, the thing we cannot not do. The call I’d been refusing was one of healing, a spiritual kind of healing, the healing of very old, very deep wounds, wounds from childhood and adolescence long ago forgotten, but never fully forgiven.

So the call came and I found myself in the emergency room. “Hello,” I answered.

“Hey, there! How ya doing? It’s me… the Universe. I have this grand adventure planned for you, you know the one, the one I’ve been inviting you on for years?”

“Oh, yeah, that adventure,” I sighed. “Gee, I’m kinda busy right now… can we make it quick?”

No reply was initially given, but the answer came about six weeks later.

“Sorry, this is the adventure of a lifetime and these kinds of adventures cannot be rushed.”

The journey I’m facing is one of healing and embracing what Carl Jung described in archetypal terms as The Wounded Healer, the healer who is compelled by her own wounds to help others. Because archetypes are patterns of energy that express through us and are intricately tied to our purpose, I was well aware of The Wounded Healer archetype within me. I had been hoping all these years that she could just remain wounded, continue to do her work and avoid the profound work associated with spiritual healing. I had hoped it, but I knew it didn’t work that way. Like all archetypes, the potential of The Wounded Healer cannot fully be actualized until she embarks on her journey, faces her dragons and returns with a wisdom and perspective that she will then apply to her work helping others.

This journey for me is about facing the wounds, accepting them and forgiving. I had been refusing the call all these years because I was confused about the forgiving part. I thought that forgiveness was only needed for the ones who’d inflicted the wounds in the first place and I had done that, years ago. It wasn’t until recently when once again I found myself ready to refuse this call and wondering what exactly it was that I was afraid of, that it hit me. The person who hadn’t been forgiven was me.

I have heard it said that so few people choose to forgive because it is extremely difficult to do. I thought that I was different. I had never found forgiving others to be difficult, and have always found wisdom in the Buddhist saying, “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” What I had never taken into consideration was my inability to forgive myself. Like most children and young adults who’ve suffered abuse and trauma, I believed that I was largely at fault.

One week ago today marked the threshold of this journey. The one I’ve been refusing for so long. The one in which I must enter the darkness of the cave and face my dragon. As nervous as I was about the surgery, I am happy to report that everything went very well and, though sore and weak, my body is mending. The surgery however, was only the catalyst. The pain and recovery time associated with recovering are the required initiation. I will be using the next six weeks to write about this journey as it unfolds as well as exploring how wounds, like everything, are energy and if left to fester manifest themselves physically through our bodies energetic anatomy. Where they lodge and what part of our physical bodies they affect depends on the type of wound. My wounds were specific to the second chakra and therefore affected my reproductive organs.

As I sat down to put the final touches on this first blog entry, I sipped a cup of tea. I couldn’t help but smile when I read the affirmation on the tag: “Be kind to others, but always be compassionate to yourself.” That’s the journey I find myself on. I am curious and intrigued by the treasure that awaits, and I hope you’ll come along with me.

[Image from Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *