People will walk away when you start to change. People will become uncomfortable with the version of you that’s difficult to manipulate and control. These people can be family, close friends or even a spouse. And you have to be able to recognise this as a positive thing.– Aqilah-Layla Bashir
We don’t often talk about the lonely side of healing and growing, but when I started my journey towards healing from my past trauma and setting healthy boundaries, I almost gave up because of the loneliness that embraced me. Was it worth the pain? Absolutely. But I wished that this was something we talked about more often. It was a shocking experience for me, but maybe it wouldn’t have been if I had been told beforehand that the journey to healing and growing would feel so lonely.
When we’re going through such a painful journey of healing and growing, many of us feel that we need people to hold our hands and tell us that everything will be fine. We expect that the people who are the closest to us will support our journey and be there for us. It can, however, be shocking to discover that those we claim to be our loved ones only actually loved the unhealed versions of us because they benefitted from it. These people loved us when we were unable to say “no”; when we had zero boundaries and could easily be taken advantage of. Little wonder they become hostile and unsupportive when you embark on this journey to prioritising yourself, setting boundaries and being able to finally say “no” to what doesn’t serve you.
Oftentimes, when we get to this stage, it might be tempting to loosen up, relax those boundaries and say yes to unreasonable demands in order to keep these people in our lives. At this stage, we’re faced with the choice of choosing ourselves, our growth and healing and choosing the people who want us to be stuck with the unhealed version of ourselves. But it helps to know that growth is messy, healing is messy and it’s going to be pretty lonely. Being lonely is not such a bad thing when we channel our energies into getting to know ourselves and prioritising our needs. It is a phase where we prepare to bloom into our highest selves so that we can attract the people who align with this new versions of us.
When we shift our mindsets from being “lonely” to simply having “alone time”, and get to show ourselves the love we deserve, it makes a whole lot of difference. People will walk away when you start to change. People will become uncomfortable with the version of you that’s difficult to manipulate and control. These people can be family, close friends or even a spouse. And you have to be able to recognise this as a positive thing. Choosing your peace over chaos and toxicity is a good thing.
In choosing ourselves, we experience a complex range of emotions. We second-guess ourselves and question if we are making the right decision. This is absolutely normal. It’s just the lonely side of healing. But in the end, we need to keep choosing to heal and walking the lonely path until we come out fully healed and ready to form new, meaningful connections.
So we need to constantly ask ourselves, “Am I experiencing loneliness? or are these people walking out of my life because they’re used to me putting their needs before mine?” “Am I experiencing loneliness or does it feel like I’m lonely because I’ve finally decided to choose myself over people’s constant disrespect?” A bit of honesty with ourselves when the loneliness begins to show up, is sometimes all we need to regain the strength to continue on this journey. And let’s not forget to find a community of women who are on this same journey as us. We will eventually thank ourselves for not giving up on our healing.
Aqilah-Layla Bashir is a skincare entrepreneur and social justice activist.