Group of women dressed as a team, helping a member cross the gap in the hills

Healing Circles, Part 2

If you didn't have a chance to read healing circles, Part 1, you might want to do that for context.  As I mentioned in part 1, I'd been invited to participate in two healing circles after my Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) diagnosis. Each one was hosted by very different people with very different backgrounds, so it gave me some different perspectives.

The first healing circle I participated in was with a group of women all living with MBC who each live very different lives.  We were extremely diverse in age and background and where we lived in the US.  Managing all of the different time zones could be a challenge!  

Sharing struggles

As I adjusted to the value of listening and bearing witness without judgment or fixing, I found that each person had so much to offer. Each person, as they shared about struggles, we all dealt with, shared a bit of her heart and soul.

We each bore witness to each of us working through the problem or issue and arriving at solutions that she shared each time we met.

And then, we met in person in October of 2021.  I cannot stress how amazing it was to participate in two healing circles in person.  Yes, zoom is a wonderful way to connect with people when we have no other choice, but being in person with each of the ladies I'd been getting to know over the previous 10 months was an awe-inspiring and soul-touching event.

We lost one of our circle to MBC while we were there (she hadn't been able to come because of progression) and then three others in quick succession after our meeting in person.

But I wouldn't give up any of the time I spent with those ladies on zoom or in person. We connected so deeply and so irrevocably that they changed me fundamentally as a person and as a support to others.

Another healing circle opportunity

After that experience, I honestly had some trepidation when I was invited to participate in another healing circle, this one through Project Life with the director of healing circles, Melinda Feola-Maher.

The main difference at the outset, other than the personalities of the different hosts were quite different, was that I knew most of the participants either personally or by reputation, so there was a different comfort level from the beginning.  

The experience of this healing circle was for a shorter period of time (by design) but also met needs that I had no idea that I had.

Project Life's approach to healing circles

Project Life has made a conscious decision not to facilitate "typical" support groups but to rely on healing circles to assist our members in reaching the conclusion or solve the struggle themselves.  

The structure of the healing circle prohibiting cross-talk means that there isn't the concern of a non-medical person providing medical advice or leading someone astray.  

The structure of the healing circle means a different level of safety and security for the members of the circle and for those of us in leadership at Project Life.

This MBC experience has led me to very, very different places since 2017.  I'd gone to a few meetings of a support group back when I got divorced as a much younger woman, and the mommy groups I participated in once I had kids met a different need for support along with the breastfeeding support groups.

After my diagnosis, I saw that a different level of support was truly necessary, and now healing circles are part of my toolbox.

What's in your toolbox?

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