The absurd claim that time heals ALL wounds suggests that if we just hang on and wait, the suffering will magically disappear. What kind of nonsense is that?
Of course, you can fill your time with distractions until the immediate emotion related to your pain subsides. You can drink until you can’t think anymore. You can eat yourself sick to feel a little less empty. You can medicate and numb yourself to the extent that you no longer care to even attempt to process your hurts. You can spend countless hours at the gym, exhausting yourself to the point of not having the energy to focus on anything else. You can fill your schedule with so much busyness that you never sit still and face your demons. You can bury yourself in work, motherhood, a hobby, or church.. The list goes on, but what you can not do is heal your hurts without processing them.
Honestly, trauma is not a wound that heals itself like a paper cut. Trauma is cancerous. If you leave it alone it will fester and swell, and eventually it will touch all corners of your life- even if you don’t realize why or what’s happening. Unprocessed trauma can leave you feeling anxious. It can bring waves of sadness and anger that you can’t explain. In extreme cases, avoiding your trauma can even cause chronic pain and shorten your life expectancy significantly. It can keep you up reeling at night. It can quite literally take over your entire body and hold you hostage.
What can you do to fix it? Start getting authentic with yourself on what is hurting you, and what is holding you back from living your best life. Face it, accept it, take it in, and let it go. Here’s how I do it:
- Journal it out:
Even if only to burn the pages afterwards. There’s some kind of magic in letting your suppressed truths hit the air, even if nobody hears them. This one is simple, just free write whatever comes to mind and let it out on paper.
- Set healthy boundaries:
Is the source of your pain still active in your life? It’s hard to recover sitting in the same place you were wounded. Are you just so drained that you can’t recover, or seem to stop spinning your wheels long enough to think straight? Give yourself some healthy boundaries. Believe it or not, you can do this without making demands of others, and you can do it without making big life altering decisions. It may be learning to use the word “No”, as a full sentence. Perhaps it could be something as simple as choosing to actually return a phone call when it benefits you rather of answering it by the second ring. Start making time for others AFTER you take care of yourself instead of taking care of everyone else first and giving yourself what’s left at the end of the day. You can’t pour from an empty cup- so start putting yourself first for a change. It’s not selfish to put your own well being at the top of your list. It only becomes selfish when you start taking from others in order to do that. In fact, filling your own cup first will allow you to positively spill over onto others better than ever before. Know your limits and act accordingly, your body will thank you for it.
- Find your tribe:
Are you struggling with recovering from a toxic relationship or friendship? There’s a group for that. Are you a chronic pain sufferer? There are a ton of groups for that! A military spouse trying to hold the family together while your other half is deployed? You guessed it, there’s a group for that. Did you lose a child, a parent, a spouse, a pet? Oh hey, there’s a group for all of those too. Are you a stay at home mom at the end of you rope clinging to your sanity for dear life? Guess what, there are dozens, if not hundreds of groups for that. Utilize that search bar at the top of your Facebook page and find people who understand your hardships. Just find your tribe, and love them hard. It may sound silly to join an online support group- but I can assure you, it helps. Surrounding yourself with strangers who understand your hardships is not only validating, but it can also give you new perspective on your experiences. The best part is that all of the groups are private so if you don’t want your struggle to be made public, you don’t have to worry about what your friends and family seeing what you’re working through to get to a better you. I quietly healed through these groups for 2 years before I even began to speak up and help others.
- Read a book:
There’s a book for everything under the sun these days and self help is the largest genre of all. Get lost in the pages and find some content you can relate to and benefit from. Also, making time for yourself to do nothing other than quietly turn pages is pretty therapeutic, which leads me to-
- Practice self care:
Self care looks different for everyone. Don’t make yourself feel worse by falling into the trap of believing that you have to spend thousands of dollars on yourself or go on extravagant vacations to give yourself a little R&R. For me personally, I have to get outdoors and find some fresh air wide open spaces. Another favorite of mine is soaking in the tub with a good smelling woodwick candle burning near by. If you get your release by having a Grey’s Anatomy style dance off, crank up the tunes and do just that. Whatever it is that makes you feel happy- just do it. Even if that just entails locking yourself in the pantry and eating twizzlers without the kids using you as a personal jungle gym for five precious minutes of solitude.
- Start TRYING to love yourself:
It may be hard at first, and this might sound cheesy, but I mean it. Take all of the negative connotations you have about yourself and start rerouting that negative energy. For me that entails saving daily affirmations off of Pinterest. Write your reminders on sticky notes and plaster them all over your house if you must. Seek out so much positive growth that the negative is choked out. If your pain is the product of unrequited love, take all of that love you ache to give to whomever it is and pour it on yourself. You deserve it, and over time you will see improvement, I guarantee it.
Lastly, and probably most important to me is prayer.
- Pray about it:
There have been times that I was in such a dark place that forgot to pray for months on end- and it’s not a fun place to be. When I don’t pray, I deprive myself of relief from whatever it is weighing me down. When I’ve tried a million different solutions and nothing is working, there’s a reason. Remember when the world takes you to your knees, you’re in the perfect position to pray. Even if your faith is almost inexistent, even if your talk with God starts out as, “Hey big guy, if you’re out there, lay your healing hands on me.” You don’t have to be a theologist to ask for a little help.. and you don’t have to be a perfect Christian to receive it. This one may not be the key for everyone, but it certainly is for me.
No, I don’t believe time heals all wounds. I don’t believe that we can ignore things into disappearance. I believe that facing them head on and doctoring them can turn pain into unimaginable growth. I believe that God can make all things new again, if only we ask.
What are you avoiding?
What are you hoping that time takes away from you?
We only get one life to live and your TIME is running out. Sister, it’s past time to start coping and slaying your largest demons. If I can pull myself from the trenches, you can too.
Don’t let anyone convince you something as minuscule as hands on a clock can be responsible for making you better, you have the ability to start doing that today- why wait?