Last summer when I was living in Kansas City, MO, I was working on small wooden boards for gardening one morning. Using a cordless power drill, I was drilling some screws into the boards to hold them together. If I drilled the screw into a certain part of the wood, sometimes the screw would get stuck and I’d have to unscrew it and try it again. One screw was being stubborn and I had to try again multiple times. On my last try of course, I drilled right into the nail of my thumb, which was pretty painful. I felt like my thumb pulsated, while blood immediately started gushing from the corner of my thumbnail. Getting injured easily was pretty typical of me so the thumb pain didn’t stop me. After cleaning my nail up with a band-aid, I went right back to work, despite the throbbing pain.
For a few days, my nail looked pretty gross and although it closed up, it was still extremely sensitive to the touch. After a while, it began to look like a typical bruise under your nail that eventually grows out. I’ve never really paid much attention to the way a scar heals, but this one was fascinating to me, for some reason. I remembered how painful it was when my nail was first inflicted. Then as it began to heal, it still hurt sometimes but it didn’t bother me as much unless I kept touching it. I watched the scar under my nail shrink a little bit from the first initial bruise, then watched it slowly grow away from the bottom of my nail to the middle, then finally to the very tip and it was gone. It took a long time, but eventually it healed completely. I couldn’t stop thinking of the healing process after that, so I wrote a poem about it.
Healing wounds take time
Sometimes hours, sometimes days.
The deeper the cut, the longer it takes.
It’s a gradual thing, typically not very quick.
The more open it is, the more pain it inflicts.
Sometimes wounds change you.
You don’t always feel the same.
Some wounds will scar you,
Memory of that once inflicted pain.
But there’s beauty in your healing.
There is hope if you are patient.
Healing is a journey of growing,
A journey that no one else can determine where the end is.
Now my thumbnail injury is not that deep whatsoever. What is deep, is the emotional wounds so many of us carry in our everyday lives. Sometimes we don’t even realize what the emotional wound is and without knowing, we’re picking and peeling it all the time. Our wounds are sometimes disguised as anger, resentment, jealousy, and fear. It’s hidden within the small things we do that we think have no meaning, like they way we speak, how we react, and what we think. Every wound affects us one way or another; The healing however, is not always promised if we don’t acknowledge the wound.
The human body is fascinating because it’s always working to heal itself. I didn’t tell my thumb, “Okay now is the time to stop bleeding, mend the skin opening, develop a scab, grow within the nail, healing now complete. Thank you”. My body just did it all on its own. Our emotional wounds are a little different. In a sense, our mind tries to automatically heal by reacting in different ways, but how the mind reacts can be the difference between positive and negative outcomes. Some people may react with anger by throwing things, punching walls, or being violent, while others may react by reflecting on the situation and trying to solve it peacefully. Both types are trying to relieve their anger, however one results in negative outcomes and the other with positive.
Silence was how my mind chose to heal for a long time.
I guess some of us heal in both positive and negative ways. By staying silent about my emotional wounds, I never had to face them head on with anyone else. At the time, it was positive because that was what I needed. Unfortunately, my silence began to eat away at me. It all built up like an infection in my mind. Silence was no longer healing, but hurting. And I continued to hurt, physically, mentally, and emotionally. You know how if I left my thumb alone it would heal, but if I picked at it while still sensitive it would hurt? I continued to pick at fresh sensitive wounds and wouldn’t allow myself time to heal. (Kind of how we listen to sad music when we’re sad and become even sadder).
Sometimes simply acknowledging the emotional wound is the most painful part. It makes it real, it makes it hurt, it makes you scream and cry and want the pain to end right then and there. But it never does. From my own healing, I’ve learned that breaking the silence is the hardest part. Continuing after that, can be even harder too, but you’ll realize you’re not alone. You’ll bend and you’ll break, but you will get through it. Some nights you’ll fight it alone because you don’t want to burden anyone else. Despite your stubbornness, you’ll find support in the most unconditionally loving people. (They’re everywhere – at home, in your dorm, at your office, at the gym, the barista, the maintenance man, your twitter followers, your tumblr fans, EVERYWHERE). After that first infliction of pain, you get stronger and it begins to pain you less. It will be sensitive for a while, but eventually it won’t even hurt. Eventually, your wounds will heal and your scar will leave a story to tell.
A story of how you overcame.
A story of how healing takes time.