It’s been 10 years since cancer came in and changed my life. I have been surprised by what I thought would heal me and what has really healed me in this decade. One lesson I have learned repeatedly is how quickly healing progresses when I bring others around me and share my truth.

It often feels uncomfortable when your in pain or experiencing something hard to isolate and withdraw to not expose your “weakness” to others, but I believe you’ll find when you do connect, the most profound healing and growth happens.

I was reminded of the power of community when I came together with other women for a weekend retreat. At the retreat, the goal was to learn about practicing good self care to manage stress, anxiety, depression, and pain. I planned the event and thought I knew what to expect because I’d personally gone through all the healing “lessons” that were prepared for the women to walk through.

However, when the weekend came to a close, I was humbled and amazed by what happened.

The women that courageously showed up at this weekend shared after that their lives were forever changed, that they felt like that they were made new and that they had expressed parts of themselves left unnoticed for quite a long time.

One participant noted, “I am leaving better than I came. I am healing. I am not alone. In just a few days, (I have made) such strong connections. I am lifted up, affirmed, encouraged, seen.”

Here is what I was reminded, at happens when we heal in community:

Shame, fear, sadness and all the things you’re “not supposed to feel,” are exposed.

My experience has been that much of my healing was locked up in stories I made up in my head, like, “You should be over this,” or “You can’t tell anyone about that part – it is just too bad (or gross or weird),” and the one that really kept me in pain, “No one has ever experienced what you are experiencing, so don’t share because they’ll think you’re crazy.”What I have learned is that being able to find a safe space to share these dark feelings allows freedom and release. Just to have someone hear your truth is healing. It reminds me of this quote that I find myself coming back to often: Community is a healing gift we give ourselves when we allow others to say, “me too.”

Being seen and accepted is all we ALL really want.

There is something that can happen in community that cannot happen anywhere else – being seen by others. Having our pain witnessed, exposed, heard is a core human desire and when we feel seen and heard there is a deep healing that is released. There is power in listening, witnessing and giving others the chance to be seen, not judged for how they feel. Powerful healing happens in safe community.

We get to realize we are not alone.

Loneliness is a lie and a torturous place to live. It can devastate emotionally and spiritually and keep you in a wheel of regret, pain and anger. The belief that no one in the world understands what we are going through or would want to be a part of what we are experiencing is a lie that keeps us from healing. When we are in community that lie is broken and light forces its way into the dark freeing us from isolation. This happens by sharing, being seen and allowing others to share and be seen. In that process we often learn that others are actually going through very similar experiences – and they desire healing from it too.

When I started building this event, I was focused on making sure the content was just right, the topics and speakers were good, that the space was supportive for the work to be done – and all that was very important – but the thing that made it so powerful was the community that showed up, the women that were ready and willing to do the work of BEGIN SEEN.

I was reminded that showing up, being seen, allowing others to say “me too,” heals not only us, but others too.

How can you help another heal today?

Sera Snyder
Sera Snyder

Sera is on a mission to use her voice, experience and passion for wellness to inspire healthy change. As a cancer survivor, Sera uses her life’s story to challenge the way we honor our personal health and overall wellness. She is the founder of Healing U. Women’s Wellness, an educational community created to help women heal from health challenges.

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