Unhealed Trauma-Moving from Sores to Scars
By: Hannah Dearth
Remember when you were in elementary school and you fell on the playground? You likely got one of those strawberries on your knee or elbow that stung and oozed a little. You would get it cleaned it up, put a Band-Aid on it, and then it would scab up. Some of us, would pick the scab or fall again and have the scab come off...others forgot about it for the time being, and others were able to continue to clean it up and let it heal. It would end up as a scar, or sometimes no mark at all.
Living with unhealed trauma is like living with an open sore. Bear with me on the image, but it fits. You are walking around with a pain that is usually covered up. You don’t always have to look at it, so you do your best to pretend it isn’t there. Every once in awhile, something comes up that rips off that scab- a smell or sound, the way someone talks to you, or grabs your arm. Then, you remember. The pain returns.
You don’t have to live like this.
Life may feel okay, pretty good even, but unhealed trauma unknowningly sneaks itself into your relationships, or parenting, your sense of self...it doesn’t show up as the original situation, and that’s how it gets you. Maybe you were yelled at and emotionally abused... now maybe you become too close and cling to others without appropriate boundaries for fear they won’t love you. Or, the opposite. You don’t want to be hurt anymore, so you keep up a wall just distant enough to create a comfort zone for you. It isn’t directly related to the past yelling when you think about it at first...so you may not even realize you do this...you think that you are okay. Maybe you think, this is just the way that I am. After all, you even have a stable job and all of the external worldly indicators that life’s fine...
You deserve more. You deserve true healing.
At first, there’s a good chance you will feel more pain. You have to clean out the wound and get to the source. It will sting. You have options, and time. Whether it is through therapy, or talking with a close friend, prayer, music, journaling, art...just begin. I promise on the other side it gets easier...but I can’t promise it will go away completely.
By this I mean, the pain will lessen a great deal. You will be able to work toward adjusting the way it has impacted your current life...but even then, you may be left with a scar. That’s okay. It tells a story. It shaped who you are. I wish for you, and for me, that it didn’t happen, but it did. There is a lot about life that is harder because of this thing that wasn’t meant to happen... I know this. There are also things that sprout out of it in spite of it. I know this too. It likely created that beautiful sense of creativity or compassion that you have that you used to get through that time in life, and now, to make sure others know they matter. Or maybe it cultivated that sense of humor you have that can see the best in things, that makes others smile on a hard day.
So, what do you say? Don’t pick that scab or ignore it anymore. Let’s clean up that past hurt. Let it truly heal. And if it turns into a scar, let it remind you of your strength. Because in spite of it all...you are here. I’m rooting for you, and I’m praying for you. I know you’ve got this.