Heartbreak Wisdom Journal — Entry 9: Scar

Several months ago, as the end of my relationship began to unfold, I wrote a poem about having a scab over my heart (read it here)–inspired by one of my last visits to my ex, in which she and I (and cute cat in tow) acted as a family, saving a little baby bird that our curious cat had found. In the process, I climbed up on a neighbor’s roof, scraping my knee and leaving a nasty scab. The emotional treatment I got during this time period left a scab on my heart too, hence the poem.

Now, so many months later, I feel that change has come, but it’s only one letter of change: from scab to scar. Of course, I don’t mean to say that this change just happened today or recently, for that matter. No, healing is a process, and many changes are processes (by that I mean longer term developments). However, I’ve encountered so many times, in both everyday conversations and even in my masters psychology courses, talk of healing as though it’s a return to fullness to the same state as the way things used to be. However, the word “healing” and the associated concept are related to “health”, and “health” is ultimately an idea/understanding of physical well-being. Why is this important? Anyone who has lived much past childhood can likely understand/agree with the proposition that some wounds do not “heal” to be what they once were. In fact, most wounds don’t once we get past the abundant vitality of youth (though it may take some time before we realize that things didn’t “heal” fully). For instance, I sprained my ankle badly once in my late teens. It’s never been the same since, but for the most part, it functions well enough to get by without issue. That’s what healing is: a return to general functionality–well-being. It is not a cure. Curing is a complete eradication of ailment, which would apply mostly to disease; with a contagion, viruses/bacteria can be completely killed off. Healing has to do with the fact that we are unfolding processes of change on biological, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels. With healing, there is a recognition of the organic nature of these becomings: time marches on, all of these changes are impermanent (in the sense of not being a final change), and even a revitalization does not mean that everything can be or is reversed.

Scar tissue is a particular example of this irreversible healing. I have a four-inch long scar on my lower abdomen where my appendix was removed as a child. Despite the initial pain of a cut that had opened all the way to my internal organs, the pain receded within a couple weeks, and I could do most things normally afterward. However, for a year or so afterward, I remember being unable to do certain exercises like sit-ups without excruciating agony after a few repetitions, and even today there feels like a slight imbalance between my right and left sides. While it may be minor, and perhaps, the difference is in my head, it has affected my experience, and the scar has had a long-term impact on my life.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Years ago, I had a cut much like this one after having my appendix removed. What do the wounds and scars of heartbreak look like?

Scar tissue can be sensitive for a long time, and the muscle may mend but not quite to the strength of what it once was. Internal scar tissue can even cause problems for organ functioning, as it is different than the normal tissue around it.

So how about the scar tissue of a broken heart? Honestly, I can’t readily say. Very few days go by where I don’t miss her in some way–usually minor but sometimes greater. It’s the scar’s tingling, unique sensitivity–that of nostalgia. In fact, I dreamt of her recently, and though the dream was odd and painful, it left the rest of my day an aching knot.

The one thing about the healing that seems more certain is that I don’t feel the same way about romantic love. I’m not seeking it, and I have little interest in it. It seems primarily tied up with stories of self and finding completion in another. That’s the whole game of samsaric conflicts that I don’t need.

Plus, I reached a deep-seated love of absolute gratitude for my ex, foibles and all–not that this meant that I didn’t see and support how she could grow past her painful patterns; acceptance is not enabling such patterns. This is a regular point of confusion for people. Acceptance is not collusion. Just because it isn’t some sort of domineering attempt to force a person to change does not mean that it is a stance that enables a person to remain hurtful to themselves and others; true acceptance is seeing a person’s beauty and pain and trying to help them get past their pain out of love for their well-being. A mother loves her children with her entire existence, but this does not mean that she lets them do selfish and maladaptive things. Instead, she tries to steer them to the best path and growth for them, although this requires some discipline at times. The problem is seeing what should be done for that end of helping and loving someone else and what is being done out of one’s own selfishness… I’m not sure that healing can take me back to a state of opening like that–intense gratitude–with another person. It’s difficult to describe the overwhelming joy and gratitude I had for her in the last few weeks I was with her. I feel like this experience may never return, no matter how much time is allotted for healing. Instead, the tingling pain of a scar remains. Instead of actively seeking this type of love again, I’m cultivating love and compassion for existence now.

I don’t know what the future will bring, and I don’t worry about it. If romantic love comes my way, fine. If not, fine. I don’t seek it or deny it. I don’t worry about it. No attachment. Whatever arises. Meanwhile, the wound heals in its own way.


May this help others find their own peace with their scars.

Gassho!

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Avril
    Jul 13, 2015 @ 12:15:54

    It seems “having ones heart broken” is sometimes par for the course. It opens up up in ways that other things cannot. I underwent a “spiritual awakening” by having my “heart broken” through unrequited love. Then is happened again and then again. It was only after the third shattering that I understood and “got it” I needed to learn to love my-S-Elf/God.

    That may not be the same for you, but love is the strongest energy in the universe so it may break the strongest of hearts in order to “upgrade” it? Does that make sense?

    I love your wisdom, articles and story.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • zeuslyone
      Jul 13, 2015 @ 18:42:57

      Thank you so much, Avril. This is great wisdom as well, and I love that you shared it. I definitely got thrown into the depths of the Path from heartbreak, and I do think that I wouldn’t have readily gotten there without it, but I do question placing too much meaning/destiny on the experience–justifying it or explaining it away. In truth, all composite things are unreliable; in other words, they are all impermanent and will eventually end. This relationship ended, and I have had to come to terms with precisely this truth of the universe. Sitting with it is slowly revealing the underlying pulse of love that you mention here, what I would call “basic goodness” a la Chögyam Trungpa, that suffuses being. Romantic love, as it is usually thought of at least–not meaning to imply that there isn’t some spiritually profound version of it, is merely a distorted, self-oriented misunderstanding of this inherent metaphysical flux. As Toni Packer puts it in a passage I just read today: “Only when the self abates in direct insight may love come into being on its own. Love has no needs, no fears, no trust nor distrust. It is not apart. It is not something I do. In love there is neither “you” nor “me.”” I’ve written posts on what love is… I haven’t written to the spiritual depth of this one simple quote, but I think it gets to the heart of what you’re saying–the upgraded heart beats here. I hope that make sense as a response!
      Thanks again so much for posting this comment. I love hearing feedback and questions. I grow and learn from them. Please keep them comin’!

      Gassho!
      Z

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