The Red Shoes: Longing and Healing

Photo by Viktor Hanacek on Picjumbo

Photo by Viktor Hanacek on Picjumbo

‘Oh she move like the Diva do, I said “I’d love to dance like you”

She said “just take off my red shoes, Put them on and your dream’ll come true

With no words, with no song, You can dance the dream with your body on

And this curve, is your smile, And this cross, is your heart

And this line, is your path,

Oh, it’s gonna be the way you always thought it would be’

Kate Bush, The Red Shoes


Longing is often for something we can never have, or for something we have lost and cannot get back. We wished with all our hearts for something or someone that was ultimately unattainable. We knew that having that in our lives would have enriched us beyond measure…and now we are suffering beyond measure. Longing for the unattainable has caused us harm. Something that should be easy and normal has become immeasurably hard, and, ultimately, impossible.

Impossible dreams

It’s an awful irony that by longing for something good to come into our lives, we end up suffering. Buddhism teaches that suffering is an inescapable part of being human but that doesn’t make it any easier to manage when it strikes us, in our lives, in our hearts. When our dream is revealed to be impossible and can never come true.

New dreams

The answer is not to stop wanting or dreaming, but to find new dreams when our hearts have been broken apart. Easier said than done, I hear you say.

Yes it is.

But it is possible.

I lost a piece of my heart, I lost a part of myself, and I will always bear the scars.

But I didn’t lose heart altogether, even though for a while I feared I had. I found my heart again and I mended it.

If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you’ll know that my journey through longing was traumatic and shame inducing, and that my grief was complex and deep. But I made it.

Loss and grief

When you have experienced traumatic loss and grief for whatever reason, the effort of bringing our broken pieces back together can seem impossible. We treasure these little fragments of our old life, but we don’t know how to remake them. We fear we have lost a part of ourselves for ever.

Beginning to heal

It can help to find someone who can honour our broken fragments and the strength that never leaves us and stay with us as we are. Someone who can accept us as we are now, without wanting us to be different in any way. Someone who doesn’t try and solve our problems, but believes that we have the resources to solve them ourselves. Someone who can walk alongside us and give us time to process what has happened in our own way.

Then we can begin to heal.

Coming back to life

We can ask our hearts what brings us to life and finding something, no matter how small, sows a seed for our new dreams. We can water them and watch the tiny plant grow, strengthen and blossom. The seed may need a long rest in the ground first as it gains strength and resolve for the next phase, but the seed will grow.

Bringing our self back home

We can care for our growing and changing self, we can bring ourselves back home and recognise once again our deep humanity, understanding, worth and vulnerability. We can be good enough again.

The truth of the matter is, of course, that we always were.


If I can walk alongside you in your journey, then please do get in touch.