How Healing Emotional Wounds is Like Healing Physical Wounds

Physical wounds are easy to spot as they usually leave physical evidence of an injury such as a broken bone or blood.  They also leave emotional evidence such as anxiety or pain.  Emotional wounds, like physical, can leave physical evidence such as loss of appetite or sudden sickness.  They also leave emotional evidence such as depression or anger.  However they do not always leave evidence.  These wounds are much harder to spot because they have been hidden or denied for so long but far more devastating in the end if not properly addressed.

To heal from a physical wound such as a large cut, you must begin by realizing that you have a wound.  Then you need to asses if it is a wound you can manage or if it is a wound that you need help managing.  Your next step is to clean out the wound, stitch the wound up if needed, and finally bandage the wound.  Failure to clean out the wound effectively can lead to infection.  Healing from an emotion wound works much the same way.

Realizing you are wounded.  Emotional wounds are not as obvious as blood pouring out of your body but they do have some familiar signs.  They can stem from any number of traumatic situations such as a death of a loved one, sexual or physical abuse, car accident, divorce, unexpected pregnancy, bankruptcy or witnessing a crime.  Common signs of emotional wounds are depression, anxiety, anger outburst, isolation, change in interests, lacking enjoyment from life, and change in personality.  Realizing you are wounded and by what is the first step.

Assessing your abilities.  One of the hardest steps is to asses if you are able to manage the emotional wound yourself or if you need help managing it.  It is extremely important that you accurately assess your abilities as in the example of a large cut, if you are wrong about your ability to manage the wound, the consequences can be lifelong.  It is much harder to clean out an infected wound that has already been improperly healed than it is to deal with it when it is fresh.  If you have recently experienced a traumatic situation, being honest with your abilities can be a life saving event.

Cleaning your wound.  Thoroughly cleaning out a large cut can not only prevent infection but it will also help the wound to heal faster than if you left it alone.  Cleaning out emotional wounds means revisiting the traumatic event and allowing yourself the freedom to feel the emotional pain.  It is also a time to confess any responsibility you may have in contributing to the trauma.  In the event of a large cut, you may have been handling a knife improperly; in the event of a traumatic situation, you may have ignored warning signs of danger.

Stitching your wound.  Sometimes cleaning a large cut is not enough, you might need a few stitches to facilitate the healing process and ensure that it heals properly.  Stitching up emotional wounds means you recognize how other areas of your life have been affected by the trauma.  For instance, if your traumatic moment was verbal abuse by a parent, a spouse yelling at you could cause you to get overly angry and have an outburst.  The wound of verbal abuse needs to be stitched up before dealing with your spouse.

Bandaging your wound.  The last step in the physical healing of a large cut is to bandage it up to keep from re-injuring the area until it has fully healed.  Emotionally speaking, bandaging up wounds is granting forgiveness, accepting a loss or gain of life, being satisfied with less income or being peaceful in the midst of a storm.  Not that the pain has fully gone away or that there won’t be a scar left after the bandage has been taken off but rather there is calm where there used to be trauma.

All of these steps require time and patience with yourself and others as you begin to work through them.  The best part of reaching the end of this journey is the ability to guide others along the way because it is in watching their healing take place that you are able to find meaning in yours.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Love Conquers All – Or Does It?

Newly engaged couples are so much fun to watch.  They are very tender with each other, they smile when they speak to each other, they care about the other person’s opinion, and they are optimistic about life in general.  Best of all, they believe the other person is perfect and their love will last forever, that somehow they have the ideal type of love and their love will conquer all problems life tossed their way.  This is what is meant by having rose-colored glasses when looking at your partner, seeing only the good and none of the bad.

However something happens when these engaged couples walk down the aisle and say, “I do”.  The same rose-colored glasses seem to shatter resulting in the good becoming minimized while the bad becomes exaggerated.  One of the many reasons premarital counseling is recommended is to help to highlight via an indifferent experienced third-party, the potential areas of contention.  While God’s love is capable of conquering everyone and everything, man’s love falls far short.  Here are some of the major areas that man’s love cannot conquer.

Addiction.  There are many forms of addictions a person can have: alcohol, gambling, pornography, drugs (illegal and prescription), and sex just to name a few.  These addictions consume time, money and energy from your relationship and in the long run, can even destroy it.  Your finance may even say that their addiction tendencies are less because of your presence and while this may be true for the time being, it will not be true in the future.   The reason the addiction is less during the engagement is because of the excitement of the upcoming marriage and the hope and promise it brings.  As soon as difficulties surface, this hope will quickly turn into despair and the addiction will return sometimes with a vengeance.

Abuse.  There are also many forms of abuse such as physical, emotional, sexual and verbal.  Physical abuse involves any physical contact that is unwelcome or threatening.  Emotional abuse is neglecting your partner’s basic needs for security, love and attachment.  Sexual abuse includes rape or any type of forced sexual encounter.  Verbal abuse is the use of foul language, demeaning statements, biting sarcasm or hurtful remarks.  Loving someone will not stop the abuse.  Often the abuse is very subtle in the beginning and often in frequent during the engagement process with your finance being very apologetic afterwards.  These are warning signs that should not be ignored because the abuse is very likely to increase after the wedding.

Alarm.  There are many ways your partner can alarm you, perhaps they engage in self-harming behavior (such as cutting), threaten to commit suicide, threaten to cause you physical harm, or have irrational fears (such as paranoia or extreme jealously).  These behaviors need to be addressed with a professional who has experience in helping individuals to overcome their alarming behavior rather than a well-meaning finance who is unsure of how to handle the situation.  Getting married will not eliminate any of these behaviors no matter what your finance says, in fact it will worsen.

Addiction, abuse and alarm are three good reasons to end an engagement.  Yes, your finance can get better with professional help, a willingness to overcome the challenges, and by the grace of God but even these ingredients separate from each other do not guarantee success.  Just for a moment, take off your rose-colored glasses and look at your partner objectively to see if there is any trace of these behaviors.   After all, your love does have limits.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.