Healing from the inside out

When I was in high school, my friends’ dad had his appendix removed. I was working at the hospital at the time so I stopped by his room. I asked him how he was doing and how he was feeling, the typical hospital conversation. We have all been in that situation in the hospital where the person is in their bed in that gown with the slit up the back. We try to maintain eye contact and not look anywhere else. So, I continue the small talk. I asked about the surgery. He says look at this and raises the gown to reveal the surgery site. There it was. The operation site was still open and you could see the cut flesh. I looked. I panicked. Looked away, but I couldn’t help myself and looked again. Now admittedly it was a couple of decades ago (or so) but I remember seeing the surgery site wasn’t stitched. It was mostly open. He told me that since the wound, surgery site, hole, access point to the appendix…whatever you call it was deep they had to let it heal from the inside out. I had heard that puncture wounds were a bit tricky because the surface would have access to the air and heal a bit faster, but the depth of the wound would not have that ability. Hence, puncture wounds are trickier. But, as I remember, the appendix site was a little more than a puncture.

Time and healing
How does that quote go? Time heals all wounds. It is probably more of a cliché at this point but there must be some validity to this. Maybe time heals all because it just starts to fade away and we seem to turn the metaphorical corner. The wound doesn’t heal at all; it is just hiding around the bend or over that ridge. Maybe more stuff happens or we have a new shiny object to turn our attention. The optimist would say, “tomorrow is a new day” or “today is the first day of the rest of your life.” While both of those are true, it doesn’t necessarily mean that anything healed. The pessimist might say, “Oh what next,” “with my luck,” “things always happen in threes.” In short, wounds happen.

We have been, and will be, the recipient of some hurtful things. Some by accident, some through misunderstanding, some through politics, timing…oh the list could go on. Ignoring these and just relying on that time adage could result in unfinished business. Similar to that puncture wound that seems to heal at the surface but the underlying problem is still there. The process of living, interacting with others, and taking risks in life will create success and things we could have probably done better.

We may be the instigator of some wounds for others, unintentional things of course (well hopefully they are unintentional). Actually, I take that back. In anger, or a fit of misjudgment, we might have intended some wounds to occur. How we recover and fix our malfeasances is probably related to Karma…Buddha-ly speaking of course. Not attending to those well-aimed wounds inflicted on others is a completely different category of unfinished business. Karma – Party of ONE your table is now ready.

I found a quote by Rose Kennedy, “It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.” That scar tissue in life manifests as hate, unaccountability, apathy, avoidance, becoming jaded, and cynicism (again the list is endless).

Inside out
The wounds to our ego are like that appendix wound. We have to heal these from the inside out. Over the last 1.5 weeks, I have been with many different groups of people. I work on the national tournament staff for a big sporting association. Many days of working long hours, under stressful conditions, new procedures, and little sleep creates interpersonal struggles. People get edgy. Nothing some distance (oh, and probably some time) won’t fix. I moved on to a conference. I had the opportunity to see a longtime colleague. I was nervous to tell her some things that have recently happened within my career. I took the plunge, took a deep breath and told her about my situation. She was the most gracious, understanding, comforting friend I could ask for. She said all the right things. And, why wouldn’t she be that person at that time…in my interactions with her she has always been supportive and helpful. What got in my way? My ego. My unfinished business of things I have not let heal from the inside out. The many layers of scar tissue that I have let seal over things in my past altered my perception. In my mind the story was debilitating rather than merely a situation I could/can deal with.

All of these thoughts of appendix surgeries, unfinished business and healing from the inside out came from the final stop on my trip. I was chatting with my cousin about some things that she was dealing with. I told her the conference story. She is the brilliant one that connected some of my unfinished business (that I really thought I HAD dealt with) and how recent things are all part of the healing process. It was more like reconstructive surgery for my psyche and my ego. Sure, wounds hurt. Let them. Sit with them. See if you can notice the lesson, the pattern, the connections, and our ability to heal from the inside out.

Leadership is what we do with people. Unfortunately, in that process, we may have some wounds happen. Some to us. Some by us. Some are even self-inflicted. What can we learn? How can we take our innate ability to heal from the inside out? How can we help those we love, like, trust, and work with to see their ability to heal from the inside out? And yep, sometimes it does take some time.

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