Healing Old Wounds

Have you ever been surprised by an unexpected, uncomfortable feeling that arises from the memory of an old emotional wound you thought was healed long ago? You conscientiously did the work required to understand the situation, you looked at every aspect of it, changed your behavior if necessary, allowed yourself to grieve, and gave yourself the time to heal. Then… years later something like this happens…
Just last year I was getting ready for bed and washing my face when my fingertips met with a tiny, sharp edge barely poking out from a 47 year old scar. It was shocking! Over the next few days with my help and a pair of tweezers, a small sliver of glass eventually freed itself from my old wound, leaving a small hole in the old scar that soon disappeared completely. I was surprised and amazed that this could happen after such a very long time!
When I was nineteen I felt it was time to satisfy my curiosity about how it might feel to drink too much alcohol. I had never had a drink before and after this night I would not drink again until I was 25. Fate met Curiosity and the result was life changing. My head slammed through the windshield of my boyfriend’s car, slicing open the right side of my face from scalp to chin and knocking out two front teeth. My facial wounds were doubled by the jagged glass when the windshield released me and allowed my body to fall back inside the car.
My boyfriend, who was as inebriated as I was, lost control of the car and drove us straight into a telephone pole, knocking it down and putting out people’s lights for miles around. Of course, neither of us had even thought to fasten our seat belt. Hardly anyone wore seatbelts in 1968. We were only three blocks from my home, and when the lights went out there my father said to my mother, “Someone’s hit a telephone pole, I hope it isn’t Eleanor.” Ten minutes later he received the phone call telling him I was badly injured and on my way to the hospital.
The surgeon would tell me later that I was lucky to be alive, and that he had sewn over 500 delicate stitches in my face that night. Over the next couple of years two more surgeries would greatly improve the appearance of the scars, and during that time small slivers of glass would occasionally work their way from deep inside the scar to poke through my skin and be freed. This felt really strange and unnatural when it happened, but when I mentioned it to the surgeon I was surprised to find that this was not an uncommon occurrence in wounds like mine.
Forty seven years later when this small sliver of glass emerged I was reminded that our physical and emotional wounds heal in a similar fashion, and no matter how old they might be, or how healed we perceive them to be, there is always room for a little more healing. Sometimes it seems like an endless process, like peeling away the layers of an onion, but if we pay close attention each layer can give us a deeper awareness of ourselves, and that awareness can help guide us as we navigate the terrain of our physical, emotional and spiritual lives.

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