While biking with my husband last summer, I hit a pothole on a downhill and fell, head-over-handlebars, onto the pavement. The bike landed on my back.
Yes, I was wearing a helmet. And, somehow, in mid-air, I knew to protect my head when I slammed into the ground.
But I lay there, stunned for a while, blocking traffic, mentally assessing the damage. After my husband took the bike off me, I cautiously got up and make my way onto the grass. My knees and elbows were bleeding and cut, but the rest of my body—and my bike, for some reason—was fine.
No one would think me self-indulgent or weak to then pedal (slowly) home and clean, salve, and bandage my wounds.
It makes sense that when we sustain a physical injury, we stop what we’re doing to examine the wound. Physically, we understand how important the cleaning process is for healing. We know that if we forgo the examination and cleansing process the wound could get infected, and perhaps go on to infect our entire body. Even something as tiny as a paper cut could cause sepsis, if not handled with maturity and wisdom.
People would admonish us if we didn’t take our physical injuries seriously, or if we tried to cover them up without examining and cleaning them first. And yet, when it comes to our emotional and psychological wounds, this is sometimes exactly what we do.
We are all wounded beings. We’re all out there getting our asses kicked in the arena of life.
But we easily misunderstand and devalue the importance of attending to our wounds. Instead, we view them as failures, obstacles to work around, or embarrassments to cover up.
Instead, we need to start seeing our wounds as signals that have an arrow pointing to them saying, “Dig for gold here!”
About a decade ago, I was involved in a business partnership that went sour. I mean, horribly, awfully, sour. I wrote the details in my book, “Embodying Soul: A Return to Wholeness,” which I am currently serializing on Illumination Book Chapters.
It is hard to describe how much I wanted this business to work, how much I saw it as part of my identity and my future. So, I ignored many early warning signs that, in hindsight, are clear and obvious.
But as things deteriorated, I did not see the signs and wisely make plans to exit. Instead, I saw myself as a warrioress for the business. I imagined myself, sword in hand, ready to defend the integrity and initial vision of the business form which I believed we were straying.
My partner likely felt the same—and fought tooth-and-nail for the vision she wanted to manifest.
By the time I left a year later I was exhausted, disillusioned, burned-out, angry, despondent…you name it.
Wounds had been exchanged in the form of words and actions for over a year. It was a toxic relationship, one I’m pretty sure had karmic ties (ties which I have subsequently cut and been assured our work together is done).
I am not innocent in the situation. I do not (any longer) see myself as a victim. At the same time, if my emotional and psychological wounds were actual bruises on my body—well, I can’t imagine what I would’ve looked like when I finally began the process of healing.
At the beginning of my healing, I unraveled the band-aids and temporary bindings I’d used to cover up my wounds so I could keep fighting. Unwrapping them was painful—like living them all over again. But it had to be done. Some of them, trapped within me, had turned into poison, making me bitter, closed-off, and fiercely angry at the entire world for the injustice.
One by one over several years (and even still to this day) I unwrapped the wounds and examined the interiors. I saw that my partner didn’t betray me, but that I betrayed myself. That so much of what I blamed on her pointed to something I needed to learn about myself. There were so many lessons—so much gold—that emerged from this single story in my life.
In fact, this incident was a literal gold mine of lessons and understanding.
Back then, things were happening so fast, I couldn’t possibly process them as they happened. The insults and accusations flew at me with speed and consistency and yet just enough under the radar to not be picked up by others. It made me wonder—was I crazy? Overreacting? Had I misunderstood everything?
But over the years, with time and patience, each wound has been unraveled, cleaned, examined, cared for, and ultimately stitched up. I know I wasn’t the victim. But I also know I’m not the only one at fault, either.
“I think scars are like battle wounds — beautiful, in a way. They show what you’ve been through and how strong you are for coming out of it.”
I’ll never be who I was before this period of time in my life. I will forever wear the scars. But at least, there’s no poison traveling through my body and mind anymore.
Wounds for transformation
Because we can sometimes see our wounded side as something that makes us weak, or that embarrasses us, we don’t always go through the cleansing/healing process like we should.
But our wounds are the entry point for transformation and growth. They are not an embarrassment, they are part of life. If there is no wound, there is not starting point for transformation and growth.
Transformation means that however uncomfortable it may be, we must open everything up, shine a light, remove what does not belong, and only then stitch ourselves back up.
In the process of healing, we explore how the wounds happened and identify the patterns that were involved. We make what was unconscious, conscious.
We remake ourselves — we transform — through the process of going to our wounds, attending to them, and becoming a new, more integrated whole self.
“We need to realize that our path to transformation is through our mistakes. We’re meant to make mistakes, recognize them, and move on to become unlimited.”
We would never consider telling someone they ought to keep walking on a broken leg. We need to keep this in mind for the less visible wounds, too.
Doing so makes us stronger, wiser, smarter—and perhaps likely to bike down a different street next time.
Award-Winning Author & Wholeness Advocate
Author: Embodying Soul: A Return to Wholeness — A Memoir of New Beginnings, winner of the 2020 IPA for Body, Mind and Spirit