It has been nearly 2 years since my husband and I separated. At one point of this journey, I believed that it would always be painful. That on some level it would always feel like I'd been shot through the heart and the shrapnel of our years together would always stab the inside of my chest.
There are moments of occasional days that I still feel that tug of angst. But not the way I used to, and not the way I imagined I always would.
The heart is a strong muscle. Much stronger than I think we can possibly understand. When you really work at it, you can teach the heart to do all kinds of wild and unexpected things. You can even teach it to heal.
That process for me required a great deal of time, effort, prayer, surrender, faith, and tears. There were periods it felt like I was in a literal war and I was the casualty every time. Today, I want you to know it doesn't have to stay that way.
You really can take your heart back. You really can stop loading the gun with emotional bullets and handing it to someone else hoping they don't blast you one more time. You really can be in charge of who you allow to break your heart again and again. And you really can stop bleeding for someone who will never do the same for you.
I have found a place I never thought I'd find.
Today, instead of it feeling like I am staring at a fresh, gaping, nerve-exposed wound that may never heal, I have a scar. A reminder. A fleshly stain of healing. A souvenir of survival and experience. A mark of love, of loss, of birth, of death, and ultimately, of personal freedom.
The feelings that come when we look at scars are much different than the feelings that flood when we see a fresh wound. There are feelings connected to both. Both invoke emotion and thought, but the reaction to them are quite different.
One feels desperate and frantic. The other feels tranquil and composed.
One feels dangerous and reckless. The other feels safe and protected.
One is throbbing and raw in its gaping exposure. The other is restored and settled in its process of healing.
The wound holds the pain, the scar holds the healing. Both tell a story
There will always be feelings wrapped up in that memoir even long after the blood has dried and the wound has closed. The memory of what caused the scar will always have power. It may always invoke thought. Yet those thoughts and feelings do not have to be shrouded in heartache and pain as they once were; and we don't have to chase those feelings down like a bloodhound just because we smell their presence.
As is the case in any kind of healing, time and space away from it help us to gain perspective. We find strength. We rebuild. We heal. We learn. We grow. We change.
I have learned that the way the wound heals is up to the injured to some extent. Usually, there are things we need to do in order to help it heal properly. We can choose to do those things or ignore them. One way or the other, the wound will close and there will likely be a scar.
Sometimes the appearance of the scar is not indicative of the trauma from such an injury. Nevertheless, the scar is what you're left with.
You can choose to view that scar as a constant reminder of your grievance. A token with which you purchase your pain over and over again. Or, you can choose to view that scar as a victory stripe. An indication of progress and the gift you've been given to begin again.
When you trust the process and continue putting one foot in front of the other, moving through your life-the grief as much as the joy-you will find that one day, the active hurt stops.
There will come a day that you touch the scar and rather than feeling like a sharp puncture to your flesh, it will just feel like every other stroke of your skin. There will come a day that you will look at your scar and while you may acknowledge feelings of sadness and loss, sitting right next to them will be feelings of acceptance.
You will find a way to hold those memories in a place of honor and value, but without strings. Without weights. You will forgive yourself. You will forgive your ex. And you will forgive the outsiders who don't understand it all.
There will be peace. There will be autonomy. You will no longer feel like everything you do starts and ends in that wound. You'll begin to feel solid on your own feet. You'll find that where you were once weak with hurt, you have now built up new layers of strength. The scar will remind you of your vitality. Of your survival.
Nobody gets married thinking it will end in divorce. Even when it's the healthier choice for everyone, it's never the ideal decision. With that reality comes an obvious pile of emotions, and the process of digging oneself out from underneath that pile can be long and tedious. There is no right or wrong to how it looks or how long it takes; but I want you to know that if you do the work and allow yourself the space to heal, you will get there.
Rachael is the proud single mama of three wild angels. She learned the hard way to never say never but believes firmly that our messes make us beautiful. She has her Master's Degree in Social Work and works full time as an Oncology Social Worker. She spends her "spare time" loving on her boys and enjoying life, one moment at a time. Rachael is also a contributor to sites including The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, DivorcedMoms.com, For Every Mom and many others. Join her in her crazy, messy, beautiful journey and follow her on her blog.