There's More to Life Than Knitting!

Join Suna as she stops knitting long enough to ponder her life, share her joys and concerns, and comment on the goings on in the world.
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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Time Heals All Wounds?

Something I was reading yesterday made a point that caused me to go, “Hmm.” I think it was in one of the endless supply of Facebook posts with 25 things about various people (as an aside, recently I read a couple of them that were so rich, interesting and entertaining that it made up for a LOT of bland and predictable ones and made me really wish I had finished mine, which was supposed to be just 16 but I could not make myself finish…).

This person said one thing she had learned in life was that time does not actually heal all wounds.

That made me think about whether that was true for me. I’ve had some rather unpleasant things happen to me that I now feel OK about: things my parents did, my divorce from the kids’ dad, losing out on a couple of jobs, a guy I loved deeply who chose another woman over me (well, make that more than one—it was the story of my life for a while there), those things Jeff used to say about me in his rages. All of those things hurt a lot at the time, but I no longer feel angry at the people involved. Some I feel nothing at all about, and others I feel positively toward. Is it just the passage of time that helped me feel better? Or did I have an active role in healing those wounds?

I’m pretty sure I had a lot to do with it. Some of those things required my lovely former therapist’s help, but I did manage to see that none of these things were my fault. I saw that some were just unfortunate circumstances, while others were because my fellow humans were, indeed, human, with failings and frailties of their own that impacted me.

However, there are some wounds that have stubbornly refused to heal as time has passed. I allude to some of them occasionally, because they keep popping up to nag at me. Sometimes the feelings on these topics come rushing back, as if the hurt occurred yesterday. Oddly, a lot of them happened around the same time, during my “vortex of despair” or whatever you want to call it. I was just dealing with the last bits and aftermath of all that when I first started blogging, and I know writing things down, no matter how vaguely, has helped process these things.

A conversation I just had with the Neighbor Coworker about “negative self talk” (ah, those New Age phrases) provided me with an insight that I think pinpoints why the wounds from situations like the horrible church situation, the Dysfunctional Nonprofit Organization, and the one extra unpleasant relationship I had have not healed. It’s because I have not forgiven myself for the role I played in them. I blame myself for mistakes, missteps, misunderstandings and moral blunders that I made that may have contributed to the negativity. I somehow remain convinced that I should have known better, foreseen how events were going to play out, controlled my feelings, seen through how people portrayed themselves on the surface, or predicted the outcomes of events better. I blame myself that other people got hurt and I could not protect them. I think I hold myself to a much higher standard than I hold other people to, and I judge myself way more harshly when I fail to meet my own standards.

It’s just dandy to say, “Well, Suna, for heaven’s sake, just go forgive yourself. You’re human and screw up. So does everyone.” It is another thing to actually DO that. I can forgive myself superficially for a while, but it all comes back, especially if I even slightly head down the path to a similar mistake. (I give myself credit for this: there are a number of behaviors I used to exhibit, tactics I used to use in dealing with others, and ways of thinking I do NOT engage in any more. I am capable of change for the better. Hooray for me.)

Forgiving others is hard work. They write whole books about that topic. I know; I checked on Forgiving yourself is even harder. If I ever get a real job, I hope to be able to take the time to go to therapy again, because I think it will take the help of a person who is not too close to me to work on this. Tarot, meditation and whining at my husband are not quite enough (not to mention, not fair to the husband!).

On the bright side (and yes, I revel in the fact that in my life there now IS a bright side to almost every issue that arises), I’ve made the step of identifying the issue. That’s a good one! And I hope that by sharing this with others I may spark an insight in you, or you, or you (those people being my three readers).

Another friend wrote on her 25 things: “I am wounded. A big part of me is just broken.” Some of our wounds have the same cause. Others are our own. But one thing all of us share is that we’ve all got broken areas, sore spots, wounds and bruises. That’s why it pays to be gentle with each other and to not react too harshly when you get a surprising reaction out of someone—you may have inadvertently hit a sore spot.

That’s it for another of Suna’s periodic “long, philosophical ramblings.” I’ll go out and expose myself to some sunlight now, and look at the roses by the front door of the building, in case I have S.A.D. or something.


nyjlm said...

I believe that memories or events which stir up that burning sensation- that's shame. And shame is hard (or impossible?) to get over until you understand that it is shame, and not some other emotion.
I don't think time necessarily heals the wounds- I'm not over my dad cheating on my mom and leaving our family for her- but it does not hurt so intensely anymore. Every once in a while it does, and I'm sort of surprised by it, but for the most part time has smoothed over those rough scars. The events that I do have that burning shame about- those time doesn't heal, because when shame is involved a person truly believes that it is their fault in some way, or that they are the defective one. It is clear in my head, even if I can't get it typed out how I'd like :)

Brene Brown rights a lot of great stuff about shame on her blog- she is a shame researcher, at a uni in Houston actually. lmk if you are interested in the link.

Lee said...

Actually, I think it does—with a few caveats. First, we have to let it; we can’t just keep reopening the wound. Then, we have to work at it; you put antibiotic on a cut, right? And finally, we have to avoid re-injuring it. Sometimes that means actively changing our behaviors, as you mentioned; sometimes, avoiding people or situations that would rub salt in the wound.

Des said...

I am sending you my love.

Ruth said...

Give yourself a big hug! Or, let Lee do it. Now, don't you feel better already?

Scabs sometimes break open, but they do heal over. The skin is kinda pink and itchy for a bit, then it gets all smooth and pretty and you can forget about it. Really!

The past is WAY behind you...the present is a gift...and look to the future, sweetie!

I'm not very good at this, am I?

cheers from Ruth