Have you ever noticed that you are more sad or moody at certain times of the year? Upon reflection, I often ask my clients if that time of year represents the anniversary of a significant loss or transition in their lives. Typically there is an association. As well, for those of you currently going through a divorce or the recent loss of a loved one, as each anniversary comes around, you may have a same or similar response.
A metaphor for healing that I often refer to is that of a spiral. Healing is cyclical in nature. You experience an event that creates a wound. This represents the center of the spiral. You may process through it and heal to the best of your ability and level of consciousness at that moment. Then you go about your life and cycle around to another level as the spiral expands outward. In the expanded layer, you may experience those feelings of loss or hurt again but this time with new perspective and the strength or courage to release more grief, face a deeper truth, and practice new ways of behaving. This spiraling outward continues and the time between cycles expands and lengthens. Eventually the original event becomes a part of your history. Feelings in the outer layers may be fleeting, rather than debilitating as they may have been in the first couple of cycles.
Anniversaries serve to mark those healing cycles in a concrete way. For example, after a significant loss or in the case of a divorce, the first year brings many “firsts,” such as, a first birthday and/or a major holiday. Each time you encounter one of these events, the loss is re-experienced and you begin to re-orient your life. The cycles are very close together. After the first year, anniversaries mark this healing and the spiral expands. So when the next birthday or holiday comes around, the pain may be slightly less. Eventually, as alluded to above, the date may sneak up on you and you become aware of its significance once you put your seemingly random mood into the context of the related time of year. Making this conscious connection allows you to become aware of where you have come in your healing process.
Using anniversaries as markers on your healing journey, provides a deeper understanding of the common phrase, “time heals all wounds.” Awareness creates more room to be gentle with yourself and your healing process. With each yearly cycle, you will have less and less pain and more and more tools, new experiences, and strength.
So the next time you cannot seem to figure out why you are feeling a certain way, take a look at your calendar. If the time of year corresponds with a loss or transition in your life, take a deep breath and give yourself a break. Check in with yourself and ask, “What do I need from myself in this moment?” Your emotions are your body’s way of helping you to become aware of a part of yourself that needs further healing, attention, or perspective. Use that awareness as a signal to give yourself what you need, ask for support, or congratulate yourself on how far you have come.
The beautiful thing about time is that it never stops. This too shall pass and nothing ever stays constant. So no matter where you find yourself at this time in your spiral of healing, you can know for sure that you will move forward from here. You are not alone and you have more resources within you than you could ever imagine. Use your calendar to mark your healing, and see how far you have come.