Can you really heal without rest?

During this Lenten season I have been focusing a lot on what it will take to heal from trauma.How can I free myself from the anxiety monster?

This journey of mine, while personal, is not being traveled alone. I have dear friends in my corner… some of whom are on similar treks. One dear friend in particular started speaking about rest. I suppose I had never thought about rest in terms of emotional healing. I’m a doer. A survivor. A giver. I’m bloody exhausted, and I need rest.

Physically, we are prescribed rest when healing. Bed rest when in the throes of a high risk pregnancy. Rest is life saving. It is healing. It is NECESSARY. So why not rest when we are emotionally strained? If we don't rest, we risk worsening the injury. Is it safe to assume that if we don’t rest our weary hearts, souls and minds that we could cause chronic and/or irreparable damage? I think so.

What does rest look like? How do you rest and care for yourself without harming others? Does anyone know?


One thing that has become obvious during the past couple of weeks is that I am exhausted. I’m tapped out. When I feel this way, I tend to lash out and act like my 6 or 7 year old self who was tired of having my uncle come in every night and touch me in ways that children should never be touched. Seriously, that is where I go. My thoughts, my outbursts, my sensitivity is heightened to a point in which I scream, “BUT WHAT ABOUT ME?!” At 46, I know that it is no one’s responsibility to GIVE me rest… but when my safe space is violated, I can’t seem to control myself.

I’d like to think for a moment about what I just said above. I revert to the 6 or 7 year old who was molested… for years… by my uncle and my father’s Army buddies. She was exhausted. She was all alone in her fears and pain. She had no rest. So, even if the infraction is mild at 46, I blow it up to those catastrophic proportions. How can I tell her to rest?

My first step. I am now so painfully aware of the need for rest and grace. I would like to offer that little girl a place to nestle in my arms. I would like to rock her to sleep. I would like to tell her that 6 years old is too young to endure this much pain. It is too young to keep such wicked secrets. I would mostly like to tell her that I believe her. Her nightmares are real. She deserves so much more than what she is being given today, tomorrow and even 10 years in the future. I want her to rest in my arms. She did all of the hard work. She survived. She is a miracle.

That poor, little girl. How dare anyone take away her innocence?! Shame on them.

My second step: Feel the feelings.

My third step: Let her rest. Give myself the FREEDOM to REST. Release the PASSIONate hold I have on the pain of the past. Forgive myself. Forgive the monsters.

Finally, in the words of Kansas, “Carry on my wayward son. For there'll be peace when you are done. Lay your weary head to rest. Don't you cry no more.”

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