According to a variety of sources, the term "wounded healer" has its origins in Greek mythology when a centaur named Chiron was poisoned with an incurable wound after being struck by one of Hercules' arrows. Suffering an "incurable" wound of any kind, whether physical, emotional, or mental, often characterizes the lives of those we consider to be healers. I do not call myself a healer, except as I am constantly pursuing better health for myself. I believe that I can be of better service to others when and if I am in my best state of health physically, emotionally, and mentally. Since early childhood, this has been a challenge. As did many children born just after WWII, I contracted nearly all the childhood diseases. Chicken pox created a susceptibility to recurring bouts of herpes simplex, especially following prolonged exposure to sunlight. The frequency and severity of these pains led to irritation of the trigeminal nerve, which eventually developed into Trigeminal Neuralgia, or tic douloureux, which is a kind of shooting pain that I would not wish on my worst enemy. The herpes virus and recurring episodes of TN are to my body what Hercules' arrow was to Chiron. The "poison" that seems to have invaded my body causes an overreaction by my immune system. It appears as frequent, severe headaches and flu-like symptoms that evade cure. Over the years, driven by a desire to never have another such headache, I've explored a wide variety of remedies from Traditional Chinese Medicine herbs to OTC ointments and pills. Everything works some of the time. In that quest for relief, I've recently come across an amazing essential oil consisting of 31 different herbs. It's potent and really works to relax the muscles that go into freeze mode at the onset of one of these headaches.
Carl Jung talked about how one can wound oneself "by one's own arrow" and thereby develop greater capacity for helping others. For Jung, those doctors who spent time examining themselves and their own hurts were better equipped to assist others. I'm not convinced that it's necessary to suffer in order to be of service. I'm not sure why I pointed the arrow of herpes and TN at myself or at the least was willing to experience the degrees of pain possible when such nerves are irritated and inflamed. Has this made me more empathic? Sympathetic to the suffering experienced by others?
Some life experiences thus far have left what feel like gaping wounds, raw and exposed to criticism. I don't want to just put a bandage over top and pretend I've never been hurt. I want to heal completely from within. I don't mind a few scars that are acceptable signs of living, the natural wear and tear from nearly 70 years above ground. What I do want is for all of us to get some relief from pain of any kind. Let's get our lessons in other ways that don't involve long periods of time disabled by weakness and pain. Let's be more creative and come up with another myth that doesn't include arrows, poisoned or not. If we continue to believe that healing is a prerequisite for happiness, then we'll continue to find ways to be wounded so that we can heal. Let's call a halt to this cycle, shall we?