The key to freedom

This time of year, we tend to hear a lot of talk about freedom as we celebrate Independence Day. Freedom is often talked about as a right that we should be given and as something owed to us.

When it comes to emotional freedom from the pain and anguish created by life’s challenges, I’ve found that freedom is something I have to take responsibility for creating and nurturing instead of something that is given to me.

What do I mean by that? Let me start with a physical example.

Imagine that I am walking down the sidewalk and a car drives up over the curb and hits me, and I’m left with a broken leg as a result. Even though I did nothing wrong, I am the one who will have to wear the cast. I am the one who will need to use crutches to get around while wearing the cast. I am the one who will need to go to physical therapy and do my exercises after the cast is removed to regain strength in my leg.

Yes, the driver may be punished by the legal system. Yes, I might receive some financial compensation from the driver for my medical expenses and my suffering, but I’m still the one who will have to deal with all of the difficulties created by having a broken leg and take responsibility for doing all of the right things to heal that leg. No one else can do that for me or grant me freedom from the broken leg before it has fully healed.

The same is true with emotional wounds from trauma, loss, and other emotional injuries. It doesn’t matter who created the wounds. At the end of the day, I’m the only person who can take responsibility for my own healing (and resultant freedom) from the pain those injuries cause.

When I went through the crises several years ago now that ultimately led to the creation of A Kintsugi Life where my life fell apart on so many levels all at once, I was hurting intensely and was desperate for that pain to stop.

My initial reaction was to figure out who to blame for the pain and the injuries. Although I knew I wasn’t blameless in the situation (relationships are seldom as clean cut as that), I was so very angry with the people who had hurt me and on some level felt like they owed me an apology or reparations to fix the damage they had caused.

I didn’t get that from them. In time, however, I realized that even if I did get that from them, it wouldn’t actually heal what had been hurt. Yes, it might have helped that healing along. It definitely would have made the healing easier. But nothing they could ever do would have done my healing for me.

Once I realized that, it allowed me to take responsibility for my own healing. As it turned out, that was the key that changed everything!

In my case, that actually meant making some very hard and painful decisions to create even more loss in my life in the short term in order to remove myself from the situations and relationships that were creating and exacerbating the pain I was experiencing. Despite how painful those losses were, they also created freedom from the ongoing wounding those situations were causing.

From there, I took the responsibility for re-creating and re-building my life in healthier ways that supported my own healing. That has involved other rounds of difficult choices as I’ve continued to fine tune the creation of a life that is healthier for me and continued to heal old wounds that have lingered.

These days, I experience a great deal of freedom from those old wounds and the pain and anguish they once caused me, but that freedom is nothing that anyone else granted me. It’s freedom that I took the responsibility for creating.

Please don’t misunderstand me! Taking responsibility for your own healing doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ask for or accept help along the way. Receiving the help we need from trusted friends, family, or therapists is crucial in the healing process.

Taking responsibility is a matter of seeking out and asking for that help when we need it instead of expecting others to know what we need.

Taking responsibility is seeking out those places where triggering thoughts and memories have us hooked and finding ways (with help, when needed) to unhook ourselves from them. That may mean unhooking ourselves from people and situations as well as from the thoughts or beliefs that trigger us.

Taking responsibility is digging for the roots of our wounds below the current situation and find the patterns of choices, reactions, beliefs, and habits that keep us in ruts of repeating painful situations or relationships so that we can create new ways of living.

Taking responsibility is discovering what we need to heal and doing everything we can to give ourselves that, even when those choices don’t agree with other people’s expectations of us (no matter how well meaning those other people might be).

Taking responsibility is being willing to fight for ourselves and our healing even when that means potentially disappointing others we care about by prioritizing our healing.

Freedom from our pain and anguish is a good thing that’s well worth fighting for. The key to getting there is through taking responsibility for making that freedom happen.


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2 thoughts on “The key to freedom

  • July 6, 2022 at 11:54 am

    This post was written for me.
    I am plagued by memories of a family that has blown up. My brothers don’t talk to me, and focus on their families.
    I’m struggling and I resent their homes, their incomes, their children, their grandchildren.
    I will not let that resentment sit untended–got to process it.
    This blog helps, immensely.

    • July 6, 2022 at 11:59 am

      I’m so glad it was helpful for you, Kathy! That sounds like a really hard situation, and I hope your processing bring you healing and freedom to move forward. Thanks for sharing your story!

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