Wounds don’t heal with time; you just get better at living with them.
I never like to be the bearer of bad news, but unlike a scraped knee or a cracked femur, emotional wounds do not heal with time. It’s a nice, thoughtless cliché that people resort to when they feel like others need hope or comfort. But it’s not true.
I get that all this sounds very pessimistic, but hear me out. I’m of the firm belief that looking at life’s storms directly is what prepares us for any type of weather. Instead of struggling to “move on” from something that pains us (and wondering what’s wrong with us when we can’t), let’s learn that less-than-perfect feelings aren’t so scary and that we can coexist with the darker parts of ourselves.
Once, when talking to a former lover about what went wrong with us in our brief fling, I attempted to shield my still-very-raw emotions about him by presenting the buffer: “Well, it’s been almost a decade since all this happened…” to which he quickly replied, “Yes, but the heart knows no time.” I’m glad we were talking via text so he didn’t think I was rude when I stopped everything to stare into the middle distance, awestruck, and pondering the truth bomb with which he’d just annihilated how I process my past.
He was absolutely right.
When love is involved, time is never a factor regarding our emotional connections with someone else. It’s why we feel elated after seeing a loved one after many years, and, conversely, why we still feel the sting of heartbreak when we are reminded of it.
This is not to say we are all in a state of stasis after we are emotionally wounded, nor should the idea that we never completely heal ever be an excuse not to actively move forward in our lives. The good news is that, while the wound itself never goes away, we do have the ability to remove its all-consuming power over us by piling on more happy memories, new loves, and even different emotional struggles.
To put it simply: We don’t always heal from our emotional wounds, but we do become distracted from them. We do have the power to let these abrasions fade into the background of our lives.
This is the most important part, by the way! There’s a difference in acknowledging/carrying around unresolved feelings peacefully and letting those wounds rule your life. If the pain of your past holds complete power over your present, then, by all means, you deserve to work through it with a loved one or a counselor. You deserve a life that allows you to smother that pain with the joys of your progress.
All I’m saying is that sometimes our emotional wounds are so great, we’re never going to be 100 percent “over” it. And that’s okay.
Learning to coexist with the parts of our psyche that still hurts instead of pretending that we’re “fine” and everything is somehow magically all better isn’t easy. If it was, everyone would do it and there’d be no need for me to write articles like this one that call bullsh*t on a culture that insists that positive thinking wipes away all of life’s harsh realities.
There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging the parts of ourselves that aren’t perfect and we need to get over the delusion that feeling pain has an expiration date. It’s ridiculous and it leads to more stress, guilt, and struggle than anyone deserves.
The sunniest days have the darkest shadows. You can still be a fully-functioning, healthy, happy person even if you struggle with pain from your past from time to time. I promise. But you’re not doing yourself any favors by denying it or feeling like there’s something wrong with you for having real, valid human emotions.
This guest article originally appeared on YourTango.com: Time Doesn’t Heal All Wounds — And That’s Okay.