About five years ago, I had a project I was working on and owing to the nature of the project, I needed full concentration, no interruptions and a very stable internet connection. Luckily, I used to work for an ISP (Internet Service Provider) and so, internet was not a problem. However, interruptions (phone, email, walk-ins, etc) were the order of the day and so, working on my project during the day or even during the weekends was not a very viable option. The only option I had was sacrificing my Friday nights in order to work on my project, while others were busy drinking, dancing or praying the night away.
So on this one Friday night, I was so tired but I knew I had no choice but to work through the night, so I armed myself with a 6-pack of Red Bull. After draining two of those my body was craving for water and so off to the kitchen I went in such of water. All the utensils were dirty so I had to wash a glass in order to take water. Of course there was no way I was just going to wash one glass and leave the rest there, so I decided to wash them all. As I was just about to wash the last glass, I don’t know what happen but the next thing I saw is blood all over my finger. Then after some seconds the pain begun. It was then I realized that the glass I was washing had broken in my hands and unfortunately it cut my index finger. Honestly speaking to date I still don’t understand how the glass broke because one minute it was whole and the next, I was holding two dangerous pieces in my hands. Anyway, I’m glad the cut was not so bad though it was deep enough, and painful enough to give me a headache instantly. It took about half an hour to stop the blood from flowing and about ten days for the wound to heal completely.
That was 5 years ago. Fast forward to today. The wound is completely healed but I have a big scar as a reminder. As a result, whenever I am washing a glass, I’m always on the lookout for possibilities of it breaking while it is in my hands. Something else is that every so often, especially when I use cold water or wash lots of clothes the traditional way, that particular part really aches. It is not the same pain I experienced when I got cut, but it is pain all the same. Actually, the reason I decided to write this article is because for the last one week, the finger has been paining constantly.
Like my finger, many of us have many scars in our lives that are supposedly healed. However, something happens and the pain and the memories come flooding back like everything is happening all over again. The difference between a physical wound and an emotional wound is the fact that the physical one is easy to deal with physically because it is visible, while the emotional is not visible. Sometimes it is not even easy to realize that someone has an emotional wound until something happens and they erupt like a volcano, surprising everyone around them. So, the question then becomes, how do we deal with emotional wounds? Can they really be healed?
In answering these questions we need to understand that the reason people erupt is because unconsciously we have learned how to keep the pain at bay so that we can go about our daily lives with some kind of “balance”. Unfortunately, this is normally a false kind of balance because often, we end up living our lives with limited inner resources, constantly looking for something outside ourselves to “fix” us. Then as fate would have it, something similar to what caused this emotional trauma happens and once again we are thrown (unprepared) into the deep-end, causing more pain on top of the initial pain. At this point that is when you start seeing people depressed, always angry, completely irrational and for extreme cases, suicide.
So, is it possible to overcome this secondary pain that affects an existing “healed” wound? I guess it all depends on an individual but like a book I was reading suggested, in order to heal emotional pain, we need to stop burying it in our sub-conscious mind and instead invite it up into our conscious mind so that we can address it and deal with it once and for all. We need to care enough about ourselves to spend time with ourselves, looking within and truly being honest with ourselves to address the areas in our lives that are hurting and need healing.
For instance, you could have lost a loved one and for some reason you blame yourself for their death. Unless you killed the person with your own hands or had them killed by someone else, you need to stop blaming yourself. Unfortunately many people harbor lots of guilt in their minds and hearts about issues like this that in the long run, this affects their lives majorly. If you are such a person, then it is time to deal with your past and set yourself free. You need to bring this up into your conscious mind, deal with it and realize that if God had wanted that person to live, nothing and no one would have managed to take that person’s life. How many times have we seen greasily accidents happening and out of fifty or so people, only one person survives? In fact, that person not only survives but he walks out of the accident site without even a scratch on him. You need to stop blaming yourself for something you had no control over. You need to stop living in the past and start living in the present. You need to realize that every minute you waste dwelling on “what ifs” is a minute you have wasted that you could have used to make your present and future a better place for you and those in your life.
Then there are those who have been so badly wounded by people they trusted, for instance, in a relationship. Like someone so correctly put it, “falling in love is like giving someone a gun and letting them point it at your heart and trusting they won't pull the trigger”. Unfortunately, nearly nine out of ten people have had the trigger pulled on them. It is no wonder today trust is a major issue in many relationships. So how do you deal with such a situation? The best way is through dialogue. The only challenge with this is that the other person has to be willing to discuss the issue at hand objectively. Unfortunately in many instances, those who know they have wronged their partners are never willing to dialogue. They often result to verbal and sometimes physical abuse thus creating a hostile environment that is not conducive for reconciliation. In the end, the victims lose their self-esteem, zest for life thus killing any joy they might have had. They become the walking dead literally.
It is unfortunate that this latter example is becoming so rampant. Every day I listen to radio talk shows in the region all I hear is people suffering in their relationships. I know so many people personally who have gone through this or are still going through such mucky waters. Well, I cannot decide for anyone what they need to do about their situation but all I can say is that they need to deal with the issues quickly. Visit marriage or relationship counselors if necessary but whatever the case, resolve your issues before they dissolve you.
In a nutshell every day we wake up is a risk waiting to happen. Anyone (known to you or not) can be used to scar you. Whether in the daladala, or at work or even at home, all these are potential scarring locations. I know it is not easy to deal with them but it is necessary if we are to live our lives fully. I just pray that most of us will find the guts to face our ghosts (read scars) and deal with them totally. It is not easy but it needs to be done in order for us all to be freed.
We need to let go and let God.
To you all, I wish you freedom this week.
PS: Article published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 9th March, 2014, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words".