Spoiler alert: if you are squeamish about wounds and cuts, proceed with caution. Just saying!
Last Friday I cut my finger. While chopping bacon to add to mashed potatoes for loaded mashed potatoes, I successfully chopped the corner of my finger clean off. Not just part way through, but clean off. Interestingly, it didn’t really hurt all that much when I did it.
As one does when she cuts her finger preparing food, I immediately grabbed a paper towel and wrapped it very tightly around my finger. I knew it was cut but I didn’t know how much. I gave it a minute or so and then gingerly peeled back the paper towel to inspect the wound. To my surprise, a whole corner of finger tip was missing. Oh boy. That meant it was somewhere and sure enough, there it was on my cutting board. It went in the trash.
And then it started bleeding. I knew it would be bad because cuts like that always are. I held it tight for awhile and then bandaged it with gauze and tape. Without going into all the details, it bled for a long time.
This was all very interesting to me. I had never actually cut away part of my body and I wondered how the healing would progress. And I was really curious if that little corner would grow back.
By Sunday, I could take the bandage off and it wasn’t bleeding. It dried and started to form a scab. My nurse daughter said it needed to do that. So, I was on my way to wholeness.
The bandage has been off as much as possible to expose it to the air and allow it to continue healing. It has gone quite well except when I accidentally hit my finger on something. Truth be told, I wouldn’t even notice it except the finger is super sensitive. And once in a while it bleeds a little, but nothing that some pressure for a few minutes doesn’t fix.
Two things that are interesting to me in this healing process. First, the tip of that finger is warmer than all my others. There is no infection and nothing to be worried about but it seems my body is sending extra resources to that area to speed the healing. Secondly, yesterday it hurt worse than any other time. The area is already healing over and there wasn’t any new trauma to it, but when I awoke Thursday morning it pulsated with pain. Again, I think it’s part of the healing process at this stage.
As I think about this physical injury and compare it to emotional trauma, I learn something. So here are a few thoughts.
Just like the actual cutting away of the flesh wasn’t that painful, an emotional wound may at first seem insignificant. Sure I experience the hurtful words/actions, but it happens so fast that my brain doesn’t really get it right away. I immediately cover the “wound” with other thoughts or protective barriers in an attempt to stem the bleeding that is sure to follow.
Just as I had to wrap my finger while it was actively bleeding to keep from making a disastrous mess everywhere, sometimes I need to step away from a situation to allow emotional pain to subside, the bleeding to stop. Staying in a bad situation means I will “bleed” everywhere which will be messy and disastrous for everyone involved.
Just as my wound healed better when exposed to air, emotional wounds heal better when appropriately exposed to air. Maybe this is a conversation that happens in a controlled environment, talking about the hurt with a friend or counselor, journaling, prayer – whatever it takes to allow enough exposure to bring healing but not trauma.
Just as I unintentionally hit my finger at various times causing it to bleed again, emotional trauma can be stirred up by unexpected encounters. It might be a song, a sign, a book, an overheard conversation – any of these things can trigger the hurt. Grab a tissue and apply pressure to prevent further injury or pain.
Just as my finger actually hurt worse a week later, emotional trauma is worked through in stages. Initial conversations might protect and gently expose the wound while later conversations dig deeper, causing greater temporary pain.
I am not sure yet, but I don’t think the entire corner of my finger is going to grow back. I might always have a bit of a dip on the one side. And with emotional trauma, my life might not look the same. I take new routes, possibly finding new places of safety.
But I believe healing is possible and probable not only for my finger, but for my soul. My body functions to bring healing to wounded parts. I need to protect and be more careful with my finger right now, but it is healing. In time, I won’t remember unless there is a scar. I also believe my emotional wounds will heal. During the process, I hold myself gently and be cautious, but healing will come.
And those are my personal thoughts and experiences on the healing of wounds. Oh, and be careful with sharp knives. It’s a bummer.