Healing is a long process. Whether it’s physical or emotional, healing takes time, energy, effort, trust and patience. It’s like trying to paint a materpiece. There are steps you must take to get it right, there are things you must do to make it beautiful, and there is time you must put into it. You may have setbacks and you may need to start over. But, once it’s all said and done, it’s an ultimately wonderful and amazingly beautiful thing.
Thankfully, in my life, I haven’t experienced a lot of tremendous physical pain that required a lot of healing. I had eye surgery when I was about two- the healing process from which I hardly remember. I’ve pulled muscles, twisted ankles, bruised vessels, cut skin, and scraped elbows. And, two weeks ago, I had my wisdom teeth removed.
Thankfully, in my life, I also haven’t had too many emotionally difficult and painful experiences that required a lot of healing. My grandfather and great grandma died when I was really young- the healing process for which I didn’t really understand. I’ve had bad days, stressful weeks, difficult years, painful months, and confusing times. And, a month ago, I had my heart broken.
To sum up the story: girl meets guy, spends years falling for him, he becomes one of her greatest friends, and he eventually gets a girlfriend, effectively crushing her heart. You all know the story- it may have even happened to you at some point in your life. But healing from heartbreak, like wisdom teeth removal, takes time.
The day I got my wisdom teeth out, I was a mess. The anesthesia affected me so much, I was unable to physically walk to the car by myself. My mouth was numb. I felt like my tongue weighed 90 pounds. I was shivering and exhausted. I was forced to keep ice on my face, change my gauze every half hour, and I couldn’t go more than three hours without needing pain medicine.
When my heart broke, I was miserable. The news affected me so much, I was unable to eat or physically function properly. My mind was numb. I felt like my heart weighed a million pounds. I was dejected and exhausted. I was forced to drag myself out of bed, try to hide my feelings, and I couldn’t go more than five minutes without wanting to burst into tears.
The day after I got my wisdom teeth out, I had begun to heal. I was still exhausted and in pain. I laid on the couch for most of the day, watching Netflix. I still couldn’t eat real food because I was unable to chew. My cheeks had begun to swell, although only a little. I sill had to take pain medicine every three hours. However, I had stopped bleeding, I was able to take a shower, and I no longer had to hold ice on my face. I was feeling much better.
Days after my heart broke, I had begun to heal. I was still shocked and in pain. I laid in bed longer than I needed to, thinking. I sometimes couldn’t eat because I was unable to process. My heart had begun to ache, although less than before. I still had to wipe my eyes a few times a day. However, I had started accepting, I was able to laugh, and I no longer fought so hard to get out of bed. I was feeling okay.
The third day after I got my wisdom teeth out, I thought I would be better. But, I woke up nauseous. I was starving, but I wasn’t able to keep my food down- at least not first thing in the morning. I was more exhausted than I had ever been, the antibiotics upset my stomach, the pain medicine made me feel like I was high, but the Advil wasn’t strong enough. Thankfully, I was eventually able to keep food down, get out of the house, and talk and laugh with my family like a normal human being. Even though I had to alternate between Tylenol and Advil every three hours because it still hurt.
A week after I got my heart broken, I thought I’d be okay. But, I woke up teary eyed. I was exhausted, but for some reason I couldn’t sleep- at least not without my mind wandering and wondering. I was more angry and dejected than I had ever been, the thought of it upset my stomach, the sadness and anger made me feel like I wasn’t myself, but the consoling words didn’t make me feel any better. Thankfully, I was eventually okay enough to get up, watch one of my favorite T.V shows that was also his, and fight some of the feelings of pain and anger. Even though the feelings still came and went occasionally because I was still hurt.
By the end of the week that I had my wisdom teeth out, I was feeling great. I was able to give a devotion and quizmaster for a Bible Quizzing tournament. I was still taking Advil and Tylenol every three hours, and the talking hurt my jaw. I could feel my stitches beginning to dissolve, leaving open holes in my mouth. By this point, the salt water rinse felt like more of an annoyance than a healing step. But, by the end of the day, I felt feverish and had a headache. I was exhausted again. But, the pain, except for in the lower left jaw, had mostly vanished.
By the end of the three weeks away, I was feeling great. I told myself I’d accepted it and my heart had healed. I was still struggling with the pain, and the thought of it made me cry. But, I could feel my heart healing, leaving open scars in its muscle. By this point, the talking felt more like a broken record than a step toward healing. But, by the end of the final day, I felt more broken than ever and had doubts about myself. I was sobbing and emotionally unstable again. But the anger, except for that which was directed at myself, had mostly vanished.
And now, here I am, two weeks after my wisdom teeth have been removed, and I’m feeling great. I no longer need any Advil, and I am able to chew normally without pain. I can wear my retainer again without it hurting, and I can quizmaster all day without my jaw being sore and exhausted. I don’t have to cut my food into tiny pieces like a little kid. I feel great. But, I’m still missing a part of me.
And now, here I am, a month after my heart was broken, and I’m not sure how I’m doing. I no longer struggle to get out of bed everyday, and I’m able to text him like nothing happened. I can listen to that song I’ve been avoiding without crying and I can have a normal conversation with him without wanting to cry or get mad. I don’t have to find as many excuses to not see him or talk to him. I feel okay. But, I’m still missing a part of me.
My emotional pain, just like the pain of having my wisdom teeth removed, will eventually heal. But, like having my wisdom teeth removed, I’ll never be completely whole. Because some part of me will always be missing. It won’t be my wisdom, or my teeth, but rather, a piece of my own heart.
So, unlike, the pain from getting my wisdom teeth out, this pain will never completely go away. My wisdom teeth took weeks to heal. My heartbreak may take months. I’ve gone through all the stages of grief, and I’ll go through them again. I still fight the pain, anger, sadness, and doubts that come with each day. But, I also find trust, hope, joy, and strength in God. I painfully wait for His plan to come to fruition in me and I wonder where He’s calling me, finding the waiting to be almost as painful as the pain itself. I find myself wondering, questioning, doubting, and hoping. I find myself taking small steps toward the long process of healing.
Because yesterday, I sat next to him at dinner and didn’t feel like crying, getting angry, or walking away. Last week, I said hi to him and made small talk with him without feeling awkward. Today, I texted him something stupid and ridiculous that wasn’t related to making plans or wishing him a happy holiday. Tonight, I listened to that song I’d been avoiding because it always made me think of him. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to see them together without immediately feeling sad or nauseous or angry.
But, healing is a process. And it’ll take time. It’ll take longer. It’ll take days of acceptance followed by days of pain. Because, unlike physical healing, emotional healing is unpredictable and irrational. Because emotions are unpredictable and irrational. So, the steps may be small, and some days it may feel like I’m moving backwards, but it’s all part of the art of healing. It’s all part of its beauty and its pain.
Because healing is a wonderful thing. And it, like art, takes time. But the art of it is, it’ll eventually happen. Sometimes, it may seem like it’s failing. And sometimes it may seem like its the most beautiful thing in the world. But, regardless of what it feels like or looks like, I just need to keep trusting, even when it’s hard. I need to keep quoting those verses over and over to myself everyday. I need to keep forcing myself to face it. I need to keep moving forward and moving on, or else I’ll never heal.
Today, I wrote a Bible verse on my white board for encouragement- a thing I had stopped because I wasn’t sure I believed it. I wrote these words without crying or getting mad. I read some of the words I had already written without feeling the same anger and pain I did when I wrote them. I talked to my friend about my future wedding and didn’t imagine him in it or cry because I hoped he would be. My roommate and I have been praying together every night, and I’ve cried less as the days have gone on. I’ve been able to watch those much hated rom coms and not imagine it were us. I listened to my friend share his stories about love and was able to remember to focus on aiming my arrow instead of fighting against its pullback. I’m able to spend time alone without thinking about it. I’m beginning to be able to listen to all the songs that used to make me think of him. I’m able to watch shows on Netflix that I know he loves without crying. I can talk about mutual interests we have without thinking it must mean we are “meant to be.” I can pray without asking God why but instead asking Him what now. I can begin to look at the wreckage of my heartbreak and begin to think of reasons why, and glorify Him through it. I’m beginning to heal, and I feel almost as high as I did when I got my wisdom teeth out.