Do people keep telling you to give yourself time to heal?
That you just need to put some distance between yourself and your trauma? Simply wait for long enough and you’ll feel much better, get over it, and move on.
Well… tell them to get stuffed.
Time is not a healer.
Time doesn’t do anything, in fact. It’s passive. It just passes by. Everyone knows that elderly person that’s still bitter and angry about something that happened decades ago. I’m sure you know yourself that old rejections and cruelties and breakups still smart years on, whereas the fights you strive to make peace over straight away are barely remembered a week later.
Healing is an active decision, not a passive one.
If you want to get over an injury, you have to be proactive about tackling the problem head-on. You clean it, dress it, fix it and make sure it heals properly, so that it doesn’t keep giving you trouble for the rest of your life. We know this about physical ailments. Why do we pretend it’s any different for psychological ones?
If you don’t come to terms with your trauma, it just sits there, like a festering wound. Eventually scar tissue might grow over the top, covering over the cut, but it’s still the same old untreated wound.
Worse, this emotional scar tissue is incredibly damaging, because it acts as a kind of “false healing” that prevents you from ever getting to the root of the problem.
If you keep telling yourself that you’re fine when you aren’t, if you keep waiting in hope that the anger or pain or dysfunction you’re experiencing will simply diminish over time, you not only deny yourself the healing you so desperately need – you will also keep repeating the same self-destructive behaviours and mistakes that caused the trauma in the first place.
Did you know that the chances of divorce increase each time people marry? As in,if you were to marry a second, third or fourth time, there’s less hope of it working out every time you do? You might think that someone whose first two marriages had gone tits-up, who had lived through the awful trauma of divorce twice already, would learn from their mistakes, get better at choosing the right partner and become more adept at navigating the issues that damage or weaken a relationship. But statistically speaking, they don’t.
Because they trample from relationship to relationship with the same baggage, the same hang-ups, the same issues in tow. The more you repeat an action or way of responding to something, the deeper it becomes ingrained as a habit, and the more instinctive that behaviour feels to you.
Ironically, it makes you feel safer to repeat a behaviour or a decision you’ve made in the past, purely because you recognise it – and even though it hurts you.
False healing doesn’t address these problems. Waiting around until the ache isn’t as sharp as it used to be won’t stop you doing the things that caused the ache in the first place. It doesn’t help you to walk into your new life or your next relationship with the skills, self-awareness and confidence to do things better. It might give you a brief feeling of reassurance that your past misery is behind you, but it doesn’t place happiness firmly on the horizon.
If you want your future to be brighter than your traumatic past, false healing just won’t cut it. Don’t wait for “time” to fix things. Take control. Decide it’s your time to heal, right now. And commit yourself to doing the proactive, practical things you have to do to make it true.