I have heard that divorce is like a death, but without the final closure part.
I have heard it being compared to an orange being ripped apart, with all of the juice and fleshy bits and pulp spilling out. It’s a grotesque way to picture something as delightful as fruit.
There’s a super cheesy movie (I’m all about the extreme cheese) called Galaxy Quest. In one of the scenes, the characters transport a creature onto their spaceship. In the process, the thing turns inside out. It’s a cartoonish-kind of horror. Ribs and guts and jiggle. I don’t even want to post a photo because it’s all kinds of corny-alien-gagworthy-gore. Google it. Or don’t. It’s gross.
If the thought of an inside-out alien turned your stomach, maybe stick to the orange. But I think that divorce, death, abuse, trauma: these things are both the orange and the alien.
They rip you apart, then blow you up.
After my divorce, I turned inside out and exploded. But I didn’t realize it. I thought I was ok, that I bounced back like some sort of divorce champion. I was so wrong.
When we physically cut ourselves, burn ourselves, scrape ourselves, our instinct is to tend to the wound, to heal.
We rinse it out. We know it’s important to stop the bleeding. We stitch up the cuts and disinfect them. We endure the pain of cleaning out our wounds because we want them to heal and have learned how to do it.
We help our bodies mend. We go to the doctor, or the drug store, or spend time in the hospital. We can physically see the healing process, watch as scabs form, itch them as our bodies mend.
When other people see us bleeding, they come with bandaids and tourniquettes made of t-shirts they’ve heroically ripped off of their own backs. They stop the bleeding and feel good about it. People are fixers. They’ve helped, and things are swell again.
Beginning. Middle. End. Clean and complete, like It’s supposed to be.
When our hearts are broken, when we are emotionally blown to bits, our first instinct is to turn away from the wound.
When life beats us down or stabs us in the throat, it hurts everywhere. We can’t see it or touch it or take it to the doctor and say “make this better.”
So, we run. Fight. Distract. Eat more. Eat less. We drink. Take pills. Have sex. Shop. Work out. Carve our pain into our skin, or focus on making our skin flawless to make up for the rest of us feeling so damaged. We stare at our phones and our computers and TVs.
We become codependent-fixers-of-others. We become people pleasers or we throw all pleasantries out the window and raise a giant middle finger in whichever direction we think the establishment is smugly planted.
We do everything we can to cover up our inside-out-ness because we don’t know how to flip our skin back to normal. There’s no ointment or bandage or pill to fix this.
We aren’t fixing anything because we aren’t healing. We are hiding, waiting, hoping it will go away.
When other people see us emotionally shredded, they don’t always know what to do. I think this often makes them uncomfortable. They can see it, but bandaids won’t help. And if they rip off their t-shirt, then they’re just shirtless and awkward, and we are still broken. They can’t always fix this. We as humans generally don’t enjoy feeling helpless.
Healing emotional trauma can be a tricky thing.
Some people say that time heals. Others have said time heals nothing. I say time alone creates thick gangly scar tissue that looks healed but isn’t really healed. It’s full of rocks and sand and dirt that have simply grown into skin that has surrendered its fate.
Scar tissue can be a form of armour. It’s pseudo-healing. I’ve been covered in it for much of my life. The nerve endings have been fried. It’s been enclosed in a cocoon of shame. It’s actually a twisted sort of cozy, an odd kind of rock solid. Nothing gets in, nothing gets out.
Here’s what healing has looked like in my life.
For me, healing has meant finding my voice and using it. It has meant finding my feelings and feeling them.
When I’m so numb that I can’t feel the pain anymore, I have no idea where to start the healing. The pain is what tells me where the problem is. The pain points out the cut in my soul and says “START HERE.”
Healing has meant shaking off the shame that enveloped my entire body by saying things like “I’m separated” or “I’m not ok right now” or “I’m angry/hurt/scared.” When I speak it or write it out loud, it isn’t stuck to me anymore. And the shame attached to it falls off.
Healing has been ripping off scar tissue and scrubbing what’s underneath. It’s finding pain and digging it up instead of burying it. It means that when I get anxiety, I ask God where it’s coming from, and WHY.
As a result, I am left in a state of rawness and hyper-awareness to any dust or toxicity that dares to try and touch me. And when I am torn open and stitched up and can feel everything I had numbed out before. This is where the healing happens.
Healing looks like knowing my value and saying NO to toxic things and toxic people. It means trusting my gut when red flags come up. It means being unapologetic for trusting my gut.
Healing is taking a good hard look at myself and asking what my part is, how I’ve contributed to toxic situations. It’s looking in the mirror and saying NO to old patterns.
Healing is saying “I need time alone” and then TAKING THAT TIME without feeling guilty.
Healing is saying “I need to be with humans” and then REACHING OUT without beating myself up over feeling like a weighty burden.
Healing looks like taking all of my broken pieces and handing them to God.
Healing means that I’m aware of my inside out, broken up state, and that I can speak about it now.
Healing means tomorrow is a new day.