Healing From Emotional Wounds: Why Does It Take So Long for Some to Heal

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I’ve often wondered why some people are more capable of going through a crisis, or even a series of crises, and are simply able to heal faster, or are more open to accepting the necessary truths that lead to their healing, than other people?  What makes the difference between a person who heals faster through therapy or their own self-reflective journey, and the person who has been in therapy for years and still deals with feelings of hopelessness?

I have felt depression, isolation, anxiety, and devastated feelings of self-worth at only a couple of times in my life after family rejection or intense family problems, but when I did, I knew somehow that I needed help to get back to my old self. The first step is admitting their is a problem in your life that is causing you to feel a certain way, the second is motivating yourself enough to do something about it so that you can come to a solution for that problem, and consequently find sustainable healing.  I’ve been very quick to seek counseling from an adviser, mentors, or psychiatrist, and it’s always resulted in healing for me – very deep, profound healing, and within a short time frame compared to someone who needs to spend years in psychotherapy.

I actually enjoy sharing my soul with a mentor or a wonderfully skilled psychiatrist who can pick apart my brain with their objective lens to see or validate my feelings in crisis situations, or to help me see myself or others in the correct (true) light.  I embrace their honesty with me because when I go, I am earnestly searching for truth and healing.  Having that validation, especially from a skilled psychiatrist, that objective perspective of a stranger who understands people and behavior, is extremely reaffirming and rewarding.  I value learning the truth, gaining peace about the events that have happened in my life, and I’m sure people who take longer to heal crave this as well.  But why do they take so long?

It isn’t fair (but then again, life isn’t fair).  But why do some people heal from emotional wounds so easily, while others take so much time… or never do?  Why do some reject truth or solutions to their problems, continue to live in depression or denial, or keep high-walled barriers around their anxiety or loss of purpose?

Suicide is the culmination of hopelessness.  When a person loses their will to live, their sense of any purpose in life or feel that their presence here is worthless, that terrifying concept of suicide starts to enter their brains.  Having known people who have had these thoughts or acted on them, I feel completely at a loss as to how to rationalize the decision a person comes to when they try to take their own life.  I simply cannot comprehend it… perhaps I’m selfish, I greatly enjoy and value my life.  But I realize I have a great sense of purpose… I’m not simply living for myself, I have two beautiful children who depend on me.

And who would be devastated if I selfishly took my own life.

But even if I had no one, if by God’s purpose everything I love was ripped away from me, I would hope that I would continue on my journey of living a life of worth.  I would hope I would still find life worth living, search for someone to help, and create something to live for.

I read a passage while we were out at a lake yesterday that both brought up and answered all these questions.  From The Search for Significance, by Robert McGee,

If we were computers, solutions to our problems would be produced in microseconds.  People, however, don’t change that quickly.  The agrarian metaphors in the Scriptures depict seasons of planting, weeding, watering, growth, and harvesting.  Farmers don’t expect to plant seeds in the morning and harvest their crops that afternoon.  Seeds must go through a complete growth cycle, receiving plenty of attention in the process, before they mature.  In this age of instant coffee, microwave dinners, and instant banking, we tend to assume that spiritual, emotional, and relational health will be instantaneous.  These unrealistic expectations only cause discouragement and disappointment.

I have witnessed people become discouraged or disappointed that their results of peace or healing didn’t come as fast as they expected they would.  I’ve also felt the pain of discouragement and disappointment that comes when you are waiting for someone to go through the necessary growth they need in order to be healthy and mature.  I’ve desired reconciled relationships that just don’t happen, and have watched as people choose denial and falsehoods to mask their unhealthy behaviors so that they can continue living in a life void of growth.  They reject having a real, healthy relationship because ultimately, they reject the stretching or stress they’d need to undergo in order to change their behavior.

Growth is painful, because it has to be, in order to work towards any solution, one has to be willing to do the hard, dirty work of growing, anything less won’t result in true healing.

Our growth will be stunted and superficial if we don’t give proper emphasis to honesty about our emotions, affirming relationships, right thinking promoted through biblical study and application, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and time.

Some of us seem to respond to this environment of growth very quickly; others, after a few weeks or months; and still others, never at all.  Why the difference?  Why are some of us able to apply principles of growth so much more readily than others? …

Those who respond quickly may not be as wounded as others, or they may already be in an environment which has prepared them for relatively rapid growth.

Some of us are in situations where one of more elements of growth are in some way missing or lacking.  We may be trying to deal with our difficulties alone.  We may be depending on a rigid structure of discipline for positive change, instead of blending a healthy combination of our responsibility of the Holy Spirit’s enabling power.  We may be expecting too much too soon, and may be experiencing disappointment with our slow results.  Some of us may, in fact, be ready to quit the growth process entirely.

One thing I truly appreciate about my childhood and adolescence was the way my parents went about their parenting.  They were (and are) such wonderful people.  They were always kind, loving, generous, supportive, and were always available to talk to through any and every situation or question I had.  They were both open books, and gave me a world of knowledge by sharing with me openly and honestly, what they understood.  They both loved science and research, and had knowledge of the world outside of our small town that they frequently made sure I was aware of.  In many ways, they were almost liberal for being Christians, and yet their convictions were firm and deeply, beautifully grounded.

They both had their imperfections, but they gave me so much wisdom and knowledge through their honesty, openness, and love displayed when I was in their household.  This is more than likely the reason I have no problem at all finding deep healing in being honest with an objective adviser of any kind.  But what about the many who didn’t have great parents?  So many people have lived through abuse or neglect of some kind… does it affect the way they heal or their unique receptiveness to healing?

Those of us who can’t seem to get the light turned on have the greatest difficulty in beginning this process.  We can’t see our problems.  We may recognize that something is wrong, but can’t pinpoint exactly what.  Or our defense mechanisms of denial may be so strong that we’re unable to see any needs in our lives at all.

Those from stable, loving families are usually better able to determine what their difficulties are, and be honest about them, than those who are shackled by the defense mechanisms that are often developed in dysfunctional families.

Those from abusive, manipulative, or neglectful families have far more to overcome than those from a healthier home environment.  Alcoholism, divorce, sexual abuse, physical abuse, workaholism, drug abuse, and other major family disorders leave deep wounds.  Many people from backgrounds like these have suppressed their intense hurt and anger for so long that they are simply out of touch with the reality in their lives.  Therefore, just as a broken arm requires more time, attention, and therapy for healing than does a small abrasion, people suffering from deep emotional, spiritual, and relational injuries need more time, attention, love, and encouragement than those with more minor wounds.

“Why doesn’t just understanding these issues work?  Why isn’t knowledge enough to produce change?”

(Author,) “Man is a relational, physical, emotional, and spiritual being.  We develop and learn and grow best in an environment of honestly, love, and affirmation, where all aspects of our nature are given the encouragement to heal.”

A woman asked me, “What do I need to do to begin seeing some results?”

“Put yourself in an environment of growth, which includes all the elements of honesty, affirming relationships, right thinking, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and time.  I can’t tell you how or when growth will come – but I know that it will come if you are patient and persistent.”

Living in such a way as to be healthy isn’t so much a destination anymore, but a constant ebb and flow of life’s journey of ups and downs that come to us, in my opinion.  Life will always have problems or pain, there will always be something right now or in the future that we are going to have to work or grow through.  I love the McGee’s symbolism of the seasons of planting, weeding, watering, growth, and harvesting.

If we have the patience of the farmer as he waits for the seeds to germinate, the persistence of his dedication in tending to his garden by pulling weeds or pruning older plants of their dead or useless limbs, we will in time, harvest the fruit and beauty we’re working towards.

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