Despite the fact that I’m a writer and lover of books, music, poetry, etc. I’ve always kind of hated quotes, especially inspirational ones. I’m not just talking about the terrible quotes people put on repurposed wood in their home like “Live, Laugh, Love” but just any kind of seemingly helpful phrase folks will throw around whenever you’re in a time of crisis. The only quote I kind of like is: “it is what it is”, because like, it is…what it is.
Anyway, recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the notion that “time heals all wounds”. As a person who has been mentally and emotionally wounded quite a bit, this thought is something that I often return to, as I’m always curious if it’s true, and in what way. After all, if people are going to keep saying the same stupid thing to you over and over, shouldn’t there be a nugget of reality in there somewhere?
It occurred to me, quite randomly the other day, that I no longer remembered the name of the girl my husband had an affair with. It was interesting to me that this name, a name I had previously hated, a name that circled my mind over and over like a rusty old record, had suddenly slipped out of my brain. Truth be told, I even strained my mind to recall it, but I couldn’t. Not even the first letter. While I’ve done a pretty good job of cutting myself off from things that may remind me of my ex, and the pain associated with him (not an easy feat in the age of technology), it only made sense me to that the simple passing of time had removed this person’s name from my memory. I don’t know if I am healing yet, but slowly and surely, I am forgetting.
What I haven’t forgotten, though, is exactly how many glasses we had in our cupboards when we shared a home. I remember the way his shirts smelled, and which ones were his favorite. I remember exactly the way his palms felt when we held hands, or when he touched my face. I remember everything about us, and I think about it almost every single fucking day.
Whether it’s a bad romance, a death, a pet, or a friendship that ran it’s course, you do eventually stop crying. You do pick yourself up off the floor, you talk it out, you return to your life. No one tells you exactly how long it will take before your routine continues, before your bones stop aching, but they do. They just do. It’s the waiting part that sucks.
Having depression follow me around like a needy cat for most of my life has caused me to seek out various solutions to sadness, and the most common practice I utilize is distraction. I just throw myself into a variety of jobs, extracurriculars, or creative projects until I don’t have the energy or time to acknowledge my sadness. I would hardly call this a path to healing, but it works in its own way.
And isn’t that what we’re all kind of doing with our pain? Pushing it to the back of our mind, hoping we forget about it eventually? What this shitty little quote fails to mention is that though we may not outwardly be a mess after a few weeks or months or years, the person you become after trauma is not the same. I don’t look at men the way I used to. I don’t see a young, smiling, open, potential partner anymore (if I can even muster a crush these days). I see someone who will lie, who will cheat, who will cause me pain. Even more so, I see this changed me: someone who is covered in thorns, who doesn’t want to be touched, that is ready with a brick wall of sarcasm and nasty comments to prevent anyone from getting in.
I’ve seen too much now, and I’ve felt too much now, to ever be able to hug someone of the opposite sex without internally shuddering at the thought of what they might do to me and my heart.
Yes, it’s going to take more time. It always takes more time. And maybe there will be that super special guy that just makes all of those terrible feelings disappear like the name of the person who, not so long ago, contributed to making my then-life so terrible.
Time doesn’t heal you, it distracts you from the pain until you forget about it, and you eventually feel brave enough to let another version of that pain come for you again. I guess that quote is just too big to put on a throw pillow.