Back in the dark ages of the medical profession, it was believed that if you were sick, the best cure was to have leeches suck your blood. Somehow, the leeches, I guess, would know the infected blood and leave the good blood, and kaboom! You’d be better! This very seldom worked, of course, and today we think it’s kind of a preposterous idea. So far as physical ailments go, I’d have to agree. But when your heart is sick or hurt, sometimes bleeding is the only way it can heal.
Five years ago, a relative of mine died suddenly. Well, it was sudden for all they left behind. It turned out they had been fighting cancer for probably a year. Their death struggle was in fact prolonged and extremely painful – and very secret. This loss was a great blow, but I didn’t really want my heart to bleed, so I hardened it. I got angry at this person. Why did they not give us a chance to help? Why did they let me walk away from what turned out to be our last meeting? Why would they lie to everyone they cared about? I didn’t want to think about this relative of mine. When I spoke of them it was only bitter words that came out. Where they were concerned, my heart was scabbed over and infected.
That all changed on my birthday last year. This relative, for all of our differences, had always been sure to be the first to wish me a happy birthday. Through all of my years in college and grad school and beyond, I’d get an email from them right around midnight as my birthday arrived. We’d go out for sushi and catch up. This wave of thought was quite different from what I had been letting myself experience. It poked the stab off. My heart bled, but afterwards, and ever since, I have been able to think of my relative with more fondness and love. My heart is on the mend where they are concerned.
We are very protective of our hearts, even when it’s just ourselves. When something bad happens we’d much rather get mad or just pretend it never occurred. Anything to avoid knocking that stab off our hearts. But if you keep building up scar tissue over that most mysterious organ, your heart will eventually become a stone. Even people who have nothing to do with your sadness will suffer at the feet of your walls.
As hard as it is, as uncomfortable as it is, if we want to heal, we have to bleed. We have to knock that scab off and really face what we’re trying so hard to run away from. We have to face it and say, “Man, I really hate this.” We have to be sad. We have to be upset. It’s messy. But it is the path to contentment. It is the path to understanding. And when you are through, you feel lighter and the world seems somehow to be just a bit brighter.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bedrocan/5390071332/ via Creative Commons