About five weeks ago, during dismissal at school, I fell and badly skinned my knee. Just stepped off the curb, and BAM! right down on my knee! When it happened I immediately thought, “DAMN! That’s gonna leave one nasty scar!” It took FOREVER for it to heal. Just as I thought it was looking better, it would look ugly again. I was right, it is a nasty scar. And since it is on my knee, it is a DAILY visual reminder of the fall. When others see it (which is quite easy to do) I hear, “What did you do to your knee? Is that from the fall? It looks so bad!” I must hear it 10 times a day – and I have to recount the story again and again. Oh sure, there are things I could do to make it fade. Vitamin E Oil, Mederma, Time. But I’d much prefer a QUICK FIX so I don’t have to be reminded of it.
In contrast, about six years ago I had a mole removed from my lower back. No biggie, I’d had them removed before. But, the biopsy came back as pre-cancerous and the borders weren’t clear. So, more had to be removed. A year later, I go in for my check up and the doctor find it has re-pigmented, and had to be removed – again. And once again, it was pre-cancerous and MORE had to be removed. I am now the proud owner of a two-inch scar on my lower back. The thing is, I can’t see it. No matter how hard I try. I know it is there, but there is no VISUAL reminder. Occasionally, someone will see it and ask how it happened and I have to recount the story. But, it’s not often. So, I don’t have to be reminded of it – or of the scare of the situation. Yet, I don’t ever have the feeling that I need to do something to diminish the scar…out of sight, out of mind…
But, not all scars are physical. Some are hidden deep inside. The emotional scars. Ones left by people, experiences, and the worst – those left by ourselves.
Relationships (romantic, family, co-worker, friends) leave scars on our heart as well as on our psyche. It is inevitable. But how we chose to deal with those scars is vital.
The instinct is to obsessively pick at it. We dwell on the “injury.” We play the “WHY ME?!?” game. We keep thinking about how deep the scar will be. We think it will speed up the healing. The faster we get rid of the scab – then VOILA! no more problem.
But as we all know, that can actually DEEPEN the scar. We removed its protective barrier before it was ready. We had not left enough time for the WOUND to heal. Ironically, this continues the vicious cycle of continued obsession and picking. We become even MORE cautious of the next experience – afraid of further scarring. We become scared of being scarred even further.
Either that, or we want the quick fix. We want the wound to heal NOW!!!! But, this is equally destructive. Again, we haven’t allowed the time for the wound to organically heal.
So, how do we accomplish that?
First of all, we have to stop picking at it. Continuing to pick at the wound (in this case, obsessively dwelling on the wrongs that were committed to you) will only keep the injury in your forebrain. It becomes impossible to let it heal.
Secondly, we must acknowledge the fact that it is natural to think about it. It is human nature for us to analyze what happened to cause the “injury.” It is NOT natural to continue to rehash it. What’s done is done. At some point in time we have to realize that the injury occurred and we can not go back in time and make it not have happened. Release it. Tell yourself there is nothing you can do to make it NOT to have happened. That keeps the injury from making the scar even DEEPER. Learn from what happened. I know I am much more cautious stepping off the curb after my fall! I am going to be even more cautious about opening up my heart.
Thirdly, we have to allow the wound to heal. We have to give it TIME. We become tired of feeling lonely. We begin to CRAVE human companionship. We convince ourselves that the wounds are all healed and LOOK! the scars aren’t as bad as I thought! So, HEY! Here’s a thought! Let’s move into a NEW relationship! So, we rip off the band-aid and say “Let’s go!” However, frequently all that manages to do is to open the wound back up. This causes you to flip back into clean up mode. The wound wasn’t fully healed.
I think the biggest thing though, is that we can’t be scared of being scarred in the next situation. Oh, sure, it may happen. The next situation may not turn out the way you wanted. You may have another misstep and land smack on your knee. But on the other hand, you also might successfully step off the curb.
Scars – both physical and emotional – are going to happen. It’s all a part of life. But with time, and the right kind of “medicine,” we can make them smaller – and if we are lucky, we can even make them inperceptable to the human eye.