“This is a traumatic injury. It’ll take time to heal.” My physical therapist’s words seemed to resonate with my soul. The whiplash, bruised limbs, and burned hand weren’t the only injuries that were slowly healing. My heart and mind were also still processing the wreck from a week prior.
It was not something just to get over. It took me days to get behind the wheel again. Even so, I only drove because I had no other choice. But I did so as slowly as I could and cried when I saw the trees I had significantly marked when I crashed. When it started to rain, I had to pull over. “Breathe,” I told myself.
But in my mind, I was hydroplaning all over again. My car was out of my control, and despite all my efforts, the impact of the trees wreaked havoc in my mind, followed by my baby’s screams, and the stench of the airbags. The pain in my body hadn’t even registered till hours later.
It’ll take time to heal.
I knew that, though. I’ve had my share of trauma both in my early childhood and early 20s. I have been extensively counseled. I have journaled for years. I know what it takes to heal. So why was this so hard? Why couldn’t I just fast track my way through the healing process this go around? Isn’t there an expert mode for traumatic events?
Even the body knows the answer. Every burn, every broken bone, every laceration, every muscle injury . . . takes time to heal. The body doesn’t heal any faster just because it’s done it before. And the injury isn’t any less significant just because it’s not the first time. In fact, in some cases, repeated injuries are harsher on the body—the only difference is one has learned the tools it takes to help the process along, such as the right doctor to go to, the exact therapeutic exercises to practice, or the precise medication to take.
That said, why must it be any different for the mind and heart? It’ll take time to heal. The emotional damage isn’t any less significant. And over time, there are repeated issues that might leave us more vulnerable and drained. But—now we are familiar with the tools that can help our journey along.
So, I’m learning to be patient with myself and to give myself grace.
I don’t know when I’ll be able to drive again in the rain without having to actively rein my mind back in. I don’t know when my heart won’t freeze whenever a loud crash brings me back to the wreck. I don’t know when certain chemical smells won’t send me reeling back to those airbags. I don’t know when being in a vehicle with my daughters will not cause catastrophic fears to skyrocket.
But I do know it’ll take time to heal. And it will heal eventually. Just like the brand new skin coming in after the burn on my hand. I’ll have a scar on my hand, and similarly, yet another scar in my heart. But scars tell a story. And I pray it’s a story I can recount and show to my daughters that in this harsh world, it’s OK to take time to heal.