Healing is frustrating, lets just call it what it is. For all of the good that we are doing for ourselves in the every day work of being a survivor, it’s just flat our frustrating at times. There are many reasons why it’s frustrating, not the least of which is the repetitive nature of this journey.

You work so hard at your recovery; reading the books, watching the videos, being mindful, setting healthy boundaries, practicing self-love, self-validation, everything that’s involved in your individual journey, and you wonder just when you are finally going to see the fruits of your labor.

One of the very difficult things about healing is the fact that you may very well go over the same topics repeatedly. You think you have worked through a memory or event, only to have the feelings associated with it, resurface a few days later, a week later, a month, a year or more. It can feel like no matter what you do, the same feeling(s) continue to resurface.

Perhaps it’s a healthy boundary that continuously gets tested, or a mindset that you can’t seem to shake; one of self-shame or self-doubt. I could on and on with examples of frustrating things that I experience in my journey, and I’m sure you could write a list a mile long yourself if you really think about it.

Hence, the repetitive nature of healing.

I voiced this concern not long ago in a talk with a helping professional.

“Why in the hell do I keep going over the same shit, again and again”? We’ve talked about this multiple times before, often in the exact same context and surrounding the exact same circumstance; when will this stop being an issue?”  I asked.

It sometimes feels like I’m spinning my wheels, not making any headway. I voice my concern, she gives me a similar response or the exact same response as before. I get frustrated, upset with myself, aka self-shame, and I leave the talk without feeling any real sense of accomplishment. A feeling like I just wasted the last hour rehashing the same junk we talked about 2 weeks before.

How is this possibly making me a better person, how much healing can I accomplish if we keep having to go over the same thing more times than I can count? Is there a point to all of this healing, is there a point to all of this time and effort? 

Each time I’m reminded of one thing…over and over, both in my head and from the wise voice who counsels me:

Healing is repetitive and it’s not linear.

As difficult as it can be to embrace that healing is not linear, it can sometimes feel easier to embrace that rather than embracing how repetitiveworking through a traumatic memory - reptitive nature of healing - surviving my past this journey is. It can feel like you’re continually beating your head against a wall and expecting it to not hurt the next time you do it. You know that old saying, “doing the same thing over and over expecting different results…”.

The reality is that the same thoughts do keep coming back, and they will continue to do so, but in time they will get less and less if we are committed to healing. It doesn’t mean that we are broken, or that we are some odd ball case that no therapist has ever seen before. It just means that we are survivors and we are human, and that it takes time to work through thoughts and feelings that have been fostered over years, decades even.

Whether the trauma you suffered was a one time event, or lasted for years; the thoughts, feelings, and our reaction to future situations created during the trauma, are not simply fixed with the magic wave a wand. Wouldn’t that be cool if it did though? Yes I’ll take that magic wand Fairy God Mother, heal me and I’ll get on with life!

Some areas that I have personally struggled with:

  • Why can’t I find peace with being a divorced guy in his mid 40’s, and not try to rush in to relationships that I’m not ready for?
  • Why can’t I ever accept a compliment?
  • When will I stop taking a positive mindset and twisting into a self invalidating, negative mindset because that’s what I deserve?
  • Why can’t I find peace with my current career?
  • Why is it so difficult to let a mother with Narcissistic traits not get under my skin as often as she does?

The truth is, that I know the answers to these questions, I’ve talked through them more times than I care to admit. When these and many other similar questions come up,  I have to be careful to not dwell on self-shame, depression, and a total lack of confidence about why I am putting myself through all of this recovery.

Perhaps you’ve been there, or are at this place in your life now?  Do you routinely wonder why the same things keep coming up and seem to slow your recovery?  If so, you can see that you are not alone, I’m right there with you.

Here are two things to keep in mind that will help you:

  1. Realize and Accept that healing is indeed repetitive. I know we’ve covered this throughout this post, but we must make a concerted effort to accept that we are going to keep going over and over similar thoughts and emotions. Different circumstances and triggers are going to bring up that which we thought we already understood. Just keeping working through each event as it comes and  resist the urge to Self-Shame.
  2. Celebrate each time that you don’t go over the same emotions and thoughts. That’s a win! When you go a few days in a row without thinking about the “same old same old” as I often refer to it as, celebrate that as a win. Celebrate each day, one at a time if that works for you. No shame in that at all. Any time period that goes by, and every therapy session that goes off without your mind triggering you into an old thought pattern, celebrate it.

It’s all about accepting each trial and celebrating each victory in it’s own way, for what it is. Working through each and trusting that the process can help shape us into the person we want to be. Knowing that we are slowly but surely healing and as time goes on there will be more and more wins to celebrate.  Each time you deal with a repetitive thought or emotion, you are one step closer to it being not so repetitive.


Pictures courtesy of Pixabay. Social Media images created by Matt Pappas.