I am sure many of us (myself included) have passed on this advice to someone who was hurting – “Time heals all wounds.”
However, I have recently been rethinking this. Do we really need time to heal us or is there something we can be doing in the meantime? I’m not suggesting that we deny our reality of what may have caused the emotional pain. What I am saying is that perhaps there is something else we can be doing while waiting on time.You see, it’s not necessarily that time heals all wounds – it’s what we do with the time that heals. I believe that action is the best course we can take for ourselves during the healing process.
If you think about every other aspect of our lives, we have to take the initiative to do something to cause something to happen. Therefore, why should a hurtful situation be any different? Why should we wait for time to pass for our feelings of sadness, anger, guilt, anguish, and yearning to decrease. Remember, we do not have a clue how much time we are talking about – six months, one year, two years…or more.
Let me give you some examples of why I believe taking action can help the recovery process.
It was about three and a half years since I last heard from Sally. Before that, she would periodically update me on the status of her cluttered home, the children, and her pending divorce. During this time, I would encourage her to participate in a workshop or an online course that I thought would be helpful for her. She would always decline. When I stopped hearing from Sally, I would email and telephone her, but she would never return my messages.
During the time we didn’t talk, Sally became more and more depressed. Her house became cluttered to the degree that all surfaces and furniture were piled high with everything and anything you could imagine. There was not a sacred place for her to rest and relax. Sally literally had to carve out an area to lay her head down in order to sleep at night. She no longer could cook or bathe in her home. She could not receive guests at her house and her children refused to come see her unless she got help. All social life for her shut down. In a sense, Sally became homeless in her own home.
Then Sally reached out for help. I knew immediately the best thing was to take swift action! She needed relief not only from her environment, but also from her feelings of shame and guilt. Time clearly was no longer an option. We rapidly (within 24 hours) put a plan into place that included decluttering her home, getting Sally the medical support she needed, and enrolling her into a Life Recovery Coaching program. I am happy to report that Sally is doing very well at this time and is now in touch with her children.
My first impression of Basel was that he was a very proud man. I remember the stories he would tell of being a young boy and the adventures he would go on with his father. Not far from their home on the outskirts of their farm, they would venture deep into the forest for days. It is here that Basel’s father taught him how to climb mountains. I recall with every tale he related that he catapulted me back into time. He had a knack for making you feel as if you were experiencing it with him. I found him to be deliriously intoxicating.
With each feverish story, I noticed that Basel’s voice would change. His tone and pitch would intensify and you could hear the ascent of the mountain in his words. As he would get near the story’s final descent, a gentleness and tenderness would seep into his voice. His words became soothing, like a lullaby, innocently rocking you to a safe landing. Yet, there was a sadness that he could not disguise with his words. Deep down, I could feel the sorrow radiating.
At the age of 45, Basel could no longer bear the weight of carrying around his pain from the loss of his beloved father. Never having the opportunity to grieve as a young boy, Basel shouldered the brunt of his pain by making a career out of climbing the world. In every foreign country where he climbed, he would build a new romantic relationship. Since he knew there was always a future destination in sight, it was the perfect alibi for not having to commit to one person for too long. It was the ideal set-up. At least until he fell in love.
According to Basel, although he was accustomed to his lifestyle on the run, the idea of leaving it for the woman he loved made him feel an array of emotions ranging from guilt, shame, anger, frustration … and he didn’t know why. He was accustomed to living his life alone and figuring things out by himself. Although he told himself he was okay with it, he suspected that was not the truth.
No amount of time or distant mountain could heal Basel’s pain. Like any young boy who lost their father, Basel began to grieve. The outpouring of emotion startled him and he longed to be with the woman he turned away from. He vowed from that day forward to begin the process of change – beginning with not running from his feelings any longer.
In these examples, you can clearly see that there is a difference between taking appropriate action to begin the healing process versus the act of running to hide from the emotional pain.
If you are going through a difficult time, please know that there are alternative ways for healing to begin. We do not necessarily have to wait for time to heal all wounds.