“The poison leaves bit by bit, not all at once. Be patient. You are healing.”

Yasmin Mogahed

When I was in 7th grade, I had a wound that required packing.

If this isn’t something you have heard of, it is the process of putting gauze and special dressings inside and around the open areas. When a wound is particularly deep, packing the wound can help it heal by absorbing the drainage, which helps the tissues heal from the inside out.

In 7th grade it felt a little like they were trying to torture me; it was like a new injury every time. I couldn’t understand why they couldn’t just leave it alone and let it heal. The process was so slow.

Eventually it did heal, though, and it healed well. Slowly and surely the infection lost its hold and the wound closed, flat and unassuming. (I got out of standard PE for the rest of the year, though, which is why I look back at the time somewhat fondly even though 6 weeks or so were miserable.)

I think a lot about that experience when I am waiting out the recovery process for the various injuries and illnesses of life. I had a hysterectomy about 8 weeks ago and even though I was expecting a lengthy recovery, I don’t think I really believed that I would still be this easily exhaustible at this point. I broke my tailbone delivering my oldest son and to be honest I’m not sure that ever actually healed. I’ve had 3 separate rounds of physical therapy on my knee, and cold rainy days like this always remind me I could use a 4th. I’m sure, if you think about it, you can make a list of the injuries in your life that healed well enough for you to get back to business, but you couldn’t wait for the kind of recovery that might have allowed you to slough them off for good. And sometimes, as we get older, that list sneaks up on us and hands us our now-debilitating problems that must be addressed.

That is as true for emotional injuries as it is for physical ones. We want to heal and heal quickly; we don’t want to feel pain in our relationships. We don’t want to pack the emotional wounds with conversations and boundaries, even though we know they will aid in the healing in the long run. We don’t want to be patient.

I’m sure that, if you think about it, you can find evidence of a half healed heart in your life too; a chronic injury just as likely to sneak up on you and demand attention.

A complete recovery takes time and it is a process we can’t control; we can only contribute to its success. But a complete healing will always serve you better than a fast one. Even if “complete” isn’t possible, the effort to heal will always take you further than a stubborn denial of the pain.

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