Every person has suffered a wound. Some physical, some emotional, some spiritual. Most wounds heal. Some do not, because we cannot or do not acknowledge their existence. We pretend that the wound is forgotten, forgiven, or perhaps, never happened. And still, we can vividly recall the wound 10, 20, or 30 years later – as if the injury is fresh.
To heal, wounds must be cleaned – clearing away irritants that prevent restoration. Yet cleaning a wound can be painful; think peroxide or iodine. Cleaning a non-physical wound can be equally, if not more painful.
Though we may vaguely remember how we acquired a physical scar, we can with clarity, often remember emotional punctures. When our heart was broken, a betrayal, a slicing word that cut to the bone. When we experience an injustice, there is a profound wounding. Yet unlike our bodies that are programmed and designed to heal – our minds are not. We heal by suppression, burying the event and believing that time heals all wounds.
The passage of time does not heal. It simply buries the memory until some trigging event unleashes the emotion. Non-physical wounds require excavation – unearthing painful memories and examining them for what they are – artifacts of our lives.
We are often told that to heal, we must forgive ourselves and those who inflicted the wound. Yet forgiveness is a bold word – an almost incomprehensible action that contradicts how we feel at our core. For if we retain the anger, the hurt, the indignation that has affixed itself to the wound – we delude ourselves into feeling power and believing this power is healing. It is not. It is how we mentally surrender power to the wrongdoer – who has no idea or is long dead.
Sometimes we believe we have forgiven. Yet to forgive is to let go. When we find ourselves rehashing the wound after we forgave, we must realize we haven’t forgiven. And when we try and fail, we add guilt to the emotional milieu. We fall short. We become smaller, because we’re not big enough to forgive and forget. Perhaps more important than forgiving is to honor and acknowledge. We honor ourselves when we acknowledge that the wound did indeed happen. That is the starting point. It is a validation that should not be confused with victimhood. It is simply acknowledging to our brain that our heart feels this way for a reason. It is the logical handoff – where we can begin to examine the wound and our emotions around them.
It is the ability to make peace with our past and within ourselves. Accept. Move on. We may never arrive at a place called forgiveness. It is better to accept this than to go through mental gymnastics about it. When we retrieve the power we have given to our wounds, healing begins.