Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Healing



I have a theory: only we can heal our broken hearts. Only I can heal my heart ache. Only you can heal yours. But doing it alone is pretty damn scary. We do need help to heal our emotional wounds. Remember mom washing that scraped knee and putting on a bandage, and maybe a little kiss, too? In a perfect scenario, we would be taught the same kind of things for heart and soul.

Imagine how we learned to take care of our teeth: brushing, flossing, and choosing healthy options to maintain our teeth. We need to learn how to floss emotionally, mentally and spiritually, too. And what do we do when our kids fall out of the tree fort and bash out their front tooth? We evaluate the injury and get medical attention as needed. We also need to have similar triage conventions when it comes to emotional trauma.

Ultimately, I believe healing happens completely within ourselves, as our perception of reality is the crux of it all. That doesn’t mean I think we can knit a broken bone together in minutes just with our thoughts; we do need some help to figure out the extent of the injury and whether or not any intervention is needed. Luckily, we do have some time to get it straightened out. When my daughter fractured her wrist in a cartoonish accident involving her bike, the shed and some patio pavers, the ER doc said we had about a week before it would start to permanently heal. (This was to ease my anxious mind about the appointment with the orthopedist being later in the week.)

The x-rays were taken and a simple brace put on her wrist in the meantime. And what did the orthopedist say? Keep the brace on for 4 weeks and take it easy. Almost not worth the money on its own, but the peace of mind was priceless. There was time to evaluate the situation and to choose appropriate care. In this instance, no surgery was needed. Nobody had to do anything to make her body repair the damage, but we knew what the damage was and what she needed to do to help her body heal well.

Of course we need help to heal.

Knowledge and skill to do the right things at the right time is important. In most instances, time and rest is really the only thing we can apply. Yes, there are emergency situations that require immediate action to save lives. But, the time and rest approach was also true of my son’s kidney injury, a much more serious injury that could have required surgery. Ultimately, he was watched closely (in the Pediatric ICU for 2 days and acute care for 2 more days) while his body healed itself. It’s the same with our hearts and souls.

Grief and trauma break our hearts the same way blunt impact breaks our bones and lacerates our kidneys. And like our bones and organs, our hearts will most often heal whether we do anything or not. Whether we heal straight and true or end up emotionally crippled is another matter. We need to have our wounds evaluated – sometimes by a professional – and determine the severity of the injury and choose a course of treatment. Talk to someone – a loved-one you trust, a doctor, a psychiatrist. Don’t take a broken heart lightly and assume all will be well with just a little time. Pay attention, get advice, and then accept that its going take time, and little by little, day by day, things will begin to feel better.

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