My ankle hurts. At almost 2 weeks post-surgery on my ankle, I’m still on a lot of pain meds and it will be a long road to recovery. What I noticed today is how I am protecting my injury.
I am afraid of my ankle getting bumped, jiggled, or hit because it will hurt. When the dogs get near, I will hold my other leg out as a barrier. I don’t want to be hurt, again. Earlier today, my son was at the foot of my bed and talking animatedly, waving his arm. I yelled at him to stop because it was scaring me. My over-reaction to perceived danger was not kind to him.
This works as a metaphor for emotional hurt. For a long time, I would only get to know people to a certain extent. We moved around a lot when I was a kid. I think I went to something like 5 different schools in 4 years.
I got really good at meeting people and learning how to fit in. But it hurt to have to leave people behind… constantly. The best way to avoid that pain was to not get emotionally attached to anyone. My friendships failed to deepen. I cared about my friends, but not too much. I never worked to keep in touch. I learned to protect myself from being hurt by never getting too close to anyone.
That’s what we, as humans do. We protect ourselves from getting hurt. The bad part is that when I cut myself off from potential pain, I also cut myself off from potential joy. I rob myself of potential happiness.
Injury, loss, and trauma do require a period of convalescence; we protect that injured part of ourselves, physically or emotionally, so we can heal. When that time is over, we have to push ourselves past the pain.
Pushing beyond my walls was hard. I got hurt some by trusting people who were not trustworthy. I ran around chasing someone to Be My Friend when they were not available. I learned and grew, and today I have deep and meaningful relationships that enrich my life.
In a couple months when I can put weight on my ankle again, it will hurt. But I will have to welcome the pain, because it is only by walking through that pain that I can get past it.
My challenge to you is, if you are protecting a part of yourself that was injured, look at how you can grow beyond the pain and fully recover. How have you been able to push past the barriers you created to live life even more fully.