These untreated bumps and scrapes were of the emotional variety.
I should probably check the dressings on those wounds.
You have walked into a screen door or a glass door at least once in your life, haven’t you? How about walls, tables, people and other stationary objects? No worries, I have too. I am so accustomed to waking up with random bruises, that I do not pay them much attention. As my experience would have it, I have only ever broken one bone, an elementary school flirting display gone terribly wrong.
Anytime my physical body had a bruise or a break, it would be bandaged and back to the playground I’d go. Now in my late twenties, it has been years since I frequented the playground but I look back and remember different kinds of mishap. I can see there were many bruises and breaks that were never properly bandaged.
These untreated bumps and scrapes were of the emotional variety and it has taken all my years to come to the awareness that I should probably check the dressings on those wounds. As I look through the trails, gardens and hidden doors of my mind, I have realized that there are bumps, bruises, scratches, gashes, tears and even breaks in my emotional body.
Sometimes I see a little paper spit wad bandage labeled “oh, you will be fine” squished into one of my scrapes. Sometimes there is an old bandanna with the words “hold yourself together” wrapped around a tear in my mental muscles.
The make-shift bandage that makes me cringe the most is the “If only you were better” brand of clear plastic wrap that is wrapped around the break in my heart.
I could leave all of these shoddy bandages where they are. I could continue with my life and let the past be the past. I have gotten this far, why look back now?
I will tell you why. That cheap, see through, flimsy plastic wrap “If only you were better” constricts my heart more and more each day. The heart break was four years ago. It was betrayal, abandonment and a slap in the face that looked a lot like a marriage, from the outside. When it was all said and done, I packed my bags and grabbed the plastic wrap.
All I heard for the first year after the divorce was “You deserve better”, “He is an idiot” and “You are better off without him”. All I felt for the first year after the divorce was “If only you were better”. If only I was thinner, prettier, funnier, a better cook, a better lover, just…better, then maybe he wouldn’t have left me broken on the floor without so much as a ‘goodbye’. With blame and guilt as my new best friends, I picked up the pieces of my heart and wrapped until that naive, over-trusting part of me was forced back together.
As time has passed, I have encountered new relationships and new experiences. It never fails that when I start to let my heart open, I hear the noisy pull of the plastic wrap. The pull usually sounds something like this “you aren’t quite perfect yet” or “they will realize you are flawed, then they will leave too”. These fears have been enough for me to keep my heart contained and only share a teacup worth of myself with a teaspoon of vulnerability.
I cannot continue to live like this.
My heart is suffocating from these old bandages that are dirty and way too tight! Should I go back and change the bandage? Better yet, could I go back and change the bandage? If I unwrapped my heart from its old plastic wrap, what will I find and what will I see? A heart that is still broken most likely but it will not be a heart that is ignored anymore.
As I unwrap my heart, I see a beautiful broken mess that is struggling to receive fresh air. Damn it! That plastic wrap did nothing to help my heart. (That is the last time I use an off-brand! ) I know now that a wound like this needs rest, fresh air, lots of laughter, compassion and awareness.
I lightly re-wrapped my heart with a much better brand of wrap known as “unconditional love”. I am not familiar with this “unconditional love” but I can intend to learn more about it. When I step into an experience that reminds me of my shortcomings, the new bandage cradles my heart, flexes and bends, supporting my every emotion. I am reminded that I am okay.
In fact, I am better than okay—I could love, I can love, I will love, I do love…myself. The best aspect of this new bandaging is that I will never have to change it. As long as I check in to see how the “unconditional love” shifts, molds and supports, my awareness can be the breath of fresh air to my newly mending heart space.
You see, we could leave the old spit wad, bandanna and plastic wrap bandages where they are but at what cost?
What about the cuts and gashes that were just brushed off, never even cleaned? If you were as thorough as myself, there is probably still dirt and sand stuck in those scrapes! When we continue to bump into old wounds we have a couple options:
1. We can scream out in pain, put on the tough face and soldier through.
2. We can blame that crappy off-brand plastic wrap and the damned ex-husband.
3. We could also unwrap our broken bodies, find out what would support the healing and then rebandage ourselves in a new light of awareness.
The beauty of the human experience is this: the choice is yours. You can make any of those three options “work” for you. You might even make up your own option.
I chose to re-bandage my broken heart because I had been in pain for long enough. I didn’t want to bump into the same inflamed spot over and over again anymore. On a daily basis I get the opportunity to help someone else re-bandage their old wounds. With each and every smile reflected before me, the love and connection further mends our scars.
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Assistant Editor: Richard May / Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: sana / Flickr.