Newcomers to Seattle often find it hard to not get swept up in the hometown excitement for the Seattle Seahawks—which, with the Super Bowl just over a week away, feels a bit more like grief these days. Here, Sherri Hainje, an MA in Counseling Psychology student at The Seattle School, writes that her affinity for the team goes beyond football, and that the Seahawks might even have something to teach us about the messiness of healing.
When the Seattle Seahawks narrowly pulled out a win against the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL Wild Card round, I was delighted at our good fortune. But, I noticed that my delight quickly turned into feelings of skepticism. I have been a Seahawks fan my whole life, and as any longtime fan will tell you, it has not always been easy. We have spent years, decades even, not winning.
Yet even in light of the victories of the last few seasons, I find myself stuck in the Seahawks of the past, not allowing for the fact that things have changed. We are not losers anymore. We may not be perfect, and the Minnesota win may not have been pretty, but we won the game. And I walked away thinking the same thing I always think about the Seahawks: We are not winners. Deep down inside, despite our winning seasons and even our Super Bowl ring, we are really losers.
Then I thought to myself, what would it actually take for me to change my feelings about that? If Russell Wilson walked on water (which he practically does) would that be enough for me? I quickly realized that the attitude I have toward the Seahawks is the same one I have toward myself. Will I ever be enough? Reflecting on the Seahawks, and what they reflect about my own life, I have discovered a few ideas about healing to take with me on my journey.
It’s not about where you start, it’s about how you finish.
The Seahawks are a second half team. They are all about making something out of nothing. It would be great if they did not have to work their way out of deficits, but that is just not who they are. And that is not who I am either. We have been talking a bit about the wounded healer in class recently, and how as therapists it is our own brokenness that can make us more effective at helping others heal. As much as I hate to admit it, I realize that if I am to be any kind of healer at all, it will be a wounded one. My past is not pretty. It is full of addiction, abuse, mental illness, poor relational patterns, and bad choices.
If I am to be any kind of healer at all, it will be a wounded one.
If I am honest with myself, though, I do not want to be a wounded healer. I want to be someone who has always had my life together, who now gets to pass on the benevolence of my good fortune to others. But that is not my story. And it is not the story of the Seahawks, either. It is quite possible that that the Seahawks’ rotten first half is what makes their second half so great. It is also quite possible that that is what will make my second half great, too.
It takes people.
I don’t know what it is, but something happens in the Seahawks locker room at halftime. Maybe it’s encouraging words from Pete Carroll, maybe it’s the chant and rally that happens between teammates, maybe it’s the team prayer—I don’t know, but something happens that changes the trajectory of the team. The one thing I do know is that it happens in relationship. Together they remind each other where they have come from, who they are, and where they are going. And it changes them. The second half is not like the first.
This is true of my life as well. I have gathered a small, but committed group of others who I share my life with, who are with me in the locker room of my life, who I turn to when I am down. They remind me who I am, what I am doing, and where I am going. They cheer me on, in my successes and failures, and love me no matter what. I believe that without these people I would be stuck in the place of not enough, and I would never make it back out onto the field.
It is not a straight path.
The Seahawks do not come out, take the lead from the beginning, and ride it off into the sunset. But they do take the field, every time, and give it all they’ve got. Sometimes all they’ve got gets them a Super Bowl ring and sometimes it does not. The last game of this season against the Carolina Panthers they played the game like they often play the game—starting out behind, rallying in the second half, and turning nothing into something.
Unfortunately, this time their something was not enough. But afterward Russell Wilson tweeted four little words, “We will be back.” Because that, ultimately, is what it is all about. I am not the same person I was 20 years ago, or 2 years ago, or even 2 months ago. When I look over that span of time there has been a lot of healing, and even though there have been lots of ups and downs, the changes are measurable.
But it still feels like it’s not enough. So I ask myself, “What will it take for me to be satisfied?” To know that healing, just like football, is not about setting out on a trajectory, climbing a steady path to unattainable perfection, where the work will be finished and I will bask in the glory of a job well done. When will I understand that healing, like football, is all about setting out with a goal, stepping onto the field, giving it my best shot, getting pushed around, bumped and bruised, and coming to the end, maybe with a win, maybe with a loss, but knowing that I left it all on the field and I will get up and do it again tomorrow?
Because that is what I can do. I cannot wish my problems away, but I can gather my people together and settle in to the hard work of taking on every battle as it comes. And that is enough, because that is the only way healing happens.