“It has been said, ‘Time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind (protecting its sanity) covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But, it is never gone.”
— Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy
What I appreciate about this idea is that it invites us to rethink the myth that time, in and of itself, without any work on our part, somehow brings about healing to those wounded areas of our lived experience.
Even in many cases of physical injury, it is not merely time that brings about healing. The business of healing is not a passive, inactive process in which we can simply sit back and watch time pass us by, expecting that we will somehow be restored to our pre-wounded selves. Healing is an active process.
It requires taking some steps, doing some work. Then, it is not time alone that we must consider in our process, rather, it is what we do with the time that shapes our healing process. Even with taking steps and doing some work, when healing does happen, I don’t believe we are ever really restored to a pre-wounded state.
When we suffer physical injuries, we do not simply say, “Time will heal it” and do nothing, right? Of course not. Instead, we take necessary steps based on the severity of the injury, whether that means seeking medical attention or attending to ourselves with over-the-counter meds and supplies. And still, when we recover from that broken limb, deep cut, ligament tear, or even a minor injury, we are not restored to a pre-wounded state.
Even when the body no longer bears evidence of its wound and we regain the capacity to use the previously injured area, the experience itself heightens our awareness, raises our consciousness in ways. This can be on a large scale or a seemingly insignificant one, but it still accounts for a change. We become different.
This idea is perhaps much easier to appreciate when we think about more severe injuries that result in some significant physical loss (i.e. loss of limbs, loss of use of limbs, loss of vision). People who have suffered the kinds of injuries that produce these kinds of losses have obviously had to take a number of steps with the help of others to save their lives, reduce loss and pain where and when possible, and to help “heal” their wounds. To have done nothing would likely have meant death in many such cases, but even with all the work done (i.e. medical treatment, physical therapies) those people are not restored to a pre-wounded state. They are changed physically in apparent ways, but there are changes on mental, emotional, and spiritual levels as well.
We become different as a result of our experiences. They alter our perceptions, shape our outlook, and incite personal reflection and re-evaluation of values among other profound changes. They become a part of our story, folded into the fabric of our experience. And, when those experiences leave wounds, the healing process is a matter of attending to not only the physical wounds, but those that occur at the unseen levels of our experience. That is, those that occur in the heart and mind.
So, healing is not the process by which we are restored to some pre-wounded state, rather, it is the process by which we learn to live with those new pieces of our experience. It is the process by which we learn how to accept our experience, however painful, such that it takes on new meaning and we become open for new possibilities. Healing is an active and even ongoing process carried through the vehicle of time which does not erase our pain, but transports us to a place where we have peace.
Contact columnist LaTonya Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org.