Until recently, whenever the proverb “time heals all wounds” floated in my ears and across my brain it sounded as standard as fireworks on the Fourth of July. I had no real qualms with this unassuming mantra. I guess when you exist alongside such greats as “two wrongs don’t make a right” or “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” you gain credibility by association. I would never pick a fight with a proverb, but I think this one is in need of an upgrade.
On a trip to Florida last year, I was unexpectedly consumed by a sadness I couldn't pinpoint. My kids had flown off to be with their dad for a few fabulous days on the beach. I had some much needed free time to myself, warm weather and the beautiful scenery of an amazing bungalow AirBNB. But I was not relaxed. I was frantic. Panic stricken, desperate to find a place where I felt safe. The loneliness was faintly familiar, but so hard to identify. With the help of my life coach Jill, we discovered my heart was feeling abandonment. I was primed up and ready to grieve my parent’s divorce. I know grieving a divorce is as expected as the sunset. My own marriage recently ended, so I'm familiar with the disappointment everyone feels. So to be clear, I wasn’t really confused over my sadness. I was more confused over the timing. Why did the sadness show up now? I’m an incessantly late girl, but this type of tardy grabbed my attention. I guess it’s important to mention, my parents divorced over three decades ago. Their marriage ended when I was 10. But at 48 I had become overwhelmed with a sadness as fresh as yesterday. Why was something that happened around the time McDonald’s introduced the Happy Meal suddenly holding a tight grip around my heart? Shouldn’t I be over this by now? Come on time, what have you been doing? I was told you “healed all wounds”. I thought I had given time ample opportunity to do its “thing”. But time had not healed this wound. The only choice time had was to bury my wound deep deep deep down. I never gave time any of the proper tools so it did the best it could with what it had to work with. Which wasn’t much.
As a young girl I got on quite well reconciling my parent’s divorce in my head. So for that, I graciously thank time. As time passed, it helped me realize both of my parents were happier apart. I had a great childhood with two loving parents. They weren’t married to each other, but they both loved me. My head completely resolved any sadness. I even saw how this new normal actually brought with it some better opportunities for everyone in my family. But our heads and our hearts speak two different languages. My head may have logically healed their divorce, but my broken heart continued to sit alone unattended. To be fair, time’s burial strategy isn’t surprising. For some people, it might work well and allow for a pretty okay life. Burying my stuff helped me maintain what appeared to be a great existence for a long time. I graduated college and immediately landed my dream job of a television news anchor. I married a very nice guy who went on to become a great father. I was able to stay at home to raise my three beautiful daughters. My days were always stacked with strategic distractions; useless shopping, friendships floating along the surface, multiple career choices with no direction. The heavy weight of this unresolved grief gave me a decent life, but it always held me back from living an authentic life. The life my heart deserved.
A week ago I crushed my finger between a barstool cushion. Stick with me, I have a point. When the accident happened I did not want to go to the ER. But luckily I was with a wise friend, who insisted my mangled finger deserved better. As it turned out, the wound needed stitches. An X-Ray found my finger also had a small fracture. The fracture needed a splint. I also needed a tetanus shot plus two weeks of a strong antibiotic to keep infection from creeping into my blood stream through the broken bone. Seven days later, my finger is doing much better. With TIME it will HEAL. But my finger is on the path to healthy healing because it was treated with proper care and attention. Only now can time heal this wound, assuming everyday I keep up with the care needed. Had I headed home and grabbed a bandage, I’m certain my finger would not be doing so well. In fact, I probably would have lost part of it. Or even worse, I might have gotten a serious infection that made my body very sick.
In time’s defense, it does heal a wound when given proper instruction. I adore time and it’s power. I wish I could show up every day with such tenacity. So I mean no disrespect when I point out it’s only a part of the equation. Time isn’t a miracle worker on it’s own. Miracles are a team effort. If you have a wound you’re waiting for time to heal but have avoided taking an honest look at, the odds of time working any magic are pretty slim. The best time can do is bury it away, hoping someday something will prompt you to find a proper plan. Time never waits. In fact, the two irrefutable things about time are it always passes and it is limited. So I guess what we do with it, how we want to spend it, is where the answer sits.
I encourage you to take a minute before the new year begins, and honestly look at any wounds you’ve left untouched. Wounds of the heart are especially easy to ignore, but powerful when healed. The extra effort might be uncomfortable for a second, but the prosperous life you are sure to uncover will assure you a lifetime of happiness.
You know what they say, “better late than never”.