This post might be a bit raw and revealing, but I’m also not really in the place to tell all…
I’ve just come out of the roughest, most painful three years of my entire life. I know that sounds dramatic, but I’m not trying to be, and I am not exaggerating. Over those years my heart went through some serious trauma; it died, forgot how to love, and there was nothing left of it to give. Yeah, yeah, dramatic I know.
I’m not the type who needs much attention when I am hurt or sick. I think it’s probably because my mom has the “walk it off” mentality, and would send us to school unless the sickness was so bad we couldn’t walk. But whenever I get injured or sick, I don’t want attention or someone to ooh and aah over me, and I usually just go on about my business and let nature take its course with my recovery; I rarely visit the doctor.
You could say that is also how I have handled emotional “hurts” throughout my life as well. I just kind of leave them there, unattended, and hope they will go away or get better. And, for the most part, things have healed in good time. However, right after I left the States and before I came back to South Africa, when I was in India I got an injury that forced me to give it attention.
On a side note, I had a wonderful time in India! One of my favorite parts was riding on the scooter bikes, which we rented. Some days I would ride and ride until I was far away from civilization, driving through rice field after rice field, and then coming into the next rural village with children running up to me as though I was some sort of alien from another planet. There was something very peaceful about these long motorbike trips, and they adjusted something within my soul…healing. Anyways, not to get to sidetracked…
Another thing I enjoyed about the scooter bikes was trying to get jumps on the many speed bumps placed on the dirt roads leading to and from our guesthouse. Of course they were there to slow us down, but it was so much fun to try and get some air off of them! And air I got! I was getting to the point where I could get a good three feet easy. So one dark night, on the way home from dinner, we got to the road with one speed bump after the next. I felt like I was an Olympian jumping the hurdles with my bike on that road!
I hit one, and then another, built up my speed and then launched myself into the air on the next bump. Right when I hit it I knew I was going to crash. My bike turned a bit skew in the air and I hit a pot hole as I landed it sideways. My bike kind of bounced, and we both flew through the air and skidded on the ground. I jumped up immediately, very aware of the oncoming motorbikes, all with riders atop with shocked looks on their faces. They jumped off quickly and by the time they reached me I was laughing and picking up my bike. They thought I was in shock, but I was just laughing because I realized I had done something really stupid.
I convinced them I was not in shock and that nothing was broken and that I was okay enough to drive the short distance to our guesthouse. When we got there the light shined on my wounds and I had lost most of the skin on my left elbow, with smaller scrapes all up my arm, had quite a few patches of skin missing on my left knee, and a bruise on my left hip (which says something because I don’t bruise easily). The group I was with was freaking out and I was trying to calm them down. It was funny. I just said I would take a shower and wash it all off but the leader of the group said I had to let a professional look at it.
That’s not splattered blood. That’s missing skin.
The owner of the guesthouse, who was not only a nurse but also had seen many-a-dumb-tourists’ motorbike injuries, came and inspected my wounds. She then told me that injuries in India can be extremely dangerous because of all the bacteria in the dirt from human and cow feces, along with other stuff. She said that if I did not clean it properly, and clean it every single day, then I would get an infection that would lead to a very serious blood infection at the least, leaving me bed-ridden for months, and dead at the most. As much as I still felt like it wasn’t that big of a deal I decided to take her advice.
She cleaned it out for me, very, VERY, VEEEEEEEEERY good I might add, with alcohol and then put on medicine and a dressing. She told me that I should do the same every single day, and it was important to keep it covered. I followed her instructions and took off the old crusty dressings every single morning, cleaned out the wounds, applied the medicine, and even took the homeopathic pills she gave me to take. It was probably one of the first times, if not the first, in a long long time that I gave an injury or sickness that much attention. But, if the lady was correct, it was a matter of life and death. My wound began to heal properly, slowly but surely.
Later in January, when I got back to South Africa I was pretty depressed about everything I had been through over the past three years. I had even lost hope that I would feel “good” again, and was even considering not staying in Cape Town for the first time in ten years. That really showed me how low I had gotten. I was just waiting for things to “get better”, for me to feel better. The one day I was walking to the train station and for some reason I lifted up my elbow and looked at the almost completely healed wound. As I ran my fingers over the scar it hit me like a ton of bricks. I immediately realized that I had emotional wounds that needed attention and I was just trying to let them heal on their own, but they needed help.
I looked at my elbow and realized if I would have treated that wound the same as I was treating my emotional stuff, I would have gotten an infection and gotten really sick at the least and, well, died at the most. My heart was hurt and all I was doing was waiting for it to get better, but it needed attention: to be cleaned out, to have medicine applied, and new dressings daily. Infection had already set in in the form of bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, resentment, and just plain hurt, but they had to be cleaned out.
It was then I realized that I had control over how I felt, and that I had to be intentional about seeking healing, and that it wasn’t just going to happen on its own. I had to allow my self to be healed. I had to look for my healing, each and every single day. And right there, walking down the street, I began that process or cleaning out and applying medicine to my internal wounds; medicine as simple as choosing positive thought over negative, and as big as cooking meals for a bunch of people and having a get together every Sunday at my house. Once I realized that I was responsible for my healing, along with allowing God and others to do their parts, things have started to fall back into place and all of this seems so much less overwhelming.
I was reminded of a thought I got one day when I was riding the motorbike through the vast Indian rural area. I could feel my heart staring at me; it was a sad, lonely gaze. I looked back and I spoke to it. I said, “Heart, it’s time to live again, love again and be free again.” My heart, maybe not wholheartdely at the time, listened. And daily I have been speaking to my heart, to live, love and be free. And we are getting there.
All of that to say, yesterday I got the outward manifestation of my inward mantra of 2010.