“How to Heal” by Nicole Froio

Something terrible happened to me. It doesn’t really matter what or why or how. It happened and a wound sliced open inside me. It wasn’t my fault, that terrible thing, but it was my responsibility to heal, to gather my insides and stitch myself together. It was my responsibility to stop picking that wound apart and stop bleeding.

Here’s how i did it: I surrounded myself with women’s art. I smoked some weed and listened to queer music, the smoke making me dizzy and warm and lonely. I cried and I cried and I cried, my chest heavy with my pain, the tears releasing every knot in my back, one by one. I breathed in lavender, I breathed out peppermint. I stayed in bed for too long, catching up on sleep the terrible thing took from me. I mourned the life I thought I wanted, and I beckoned the unknown to whisper in my ear.

I walked into the cold sea, stepping onto the smooth hard pebbles with my bare feet, waking my body up from my toes to my wet hair. I tasted the salt water in my tongue and I smiled at my presence, at inhabiting my body and being myself. I laughed while in a pleasant haze of female friendship and sisterhood and adventure. I almost lost myself, but the people who love me grabbed my hand, pulled me back, kissed me and hugged me and held me.

I strolled around in the dark, feeling the world with my hands, trying to understand what is what and who is who, and what I want and what I need. I took my medication, I sat through meditation. I stumbled and I fell, I told a joke and nobody laughed and my face felt so hot. I wrote an article and people liked it, I wrote another article and people shared it. I felt seen, I felt invisible. I cried and I cried.

Now, the wound is a scar that sometimes rips open, or itches, or aches. The gathering of my insides was the most painful, the stitching up took the longest, the phantom pains—I still live with those. I welcome them into my bed, tears in my eyes; I know they have something to teach me.


Nicole Froio is a Women’s Studies PhD candidate and freelance writer, currently based in the United Kingdom. She writes about gender, violence against women, books, politics and pop culture. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram with the handle @nicolefroio.

Photo by Alexander Possingham.

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