I used to keep this picture hidden in a drawer because I couldn’t bear to look at it. My emotions felt way too big to handle. Like those moments when your chest tightens and a well of tears rises threatening to flood. And I wasn’t sure if the flood began that I would be able to make it stop. Ever.
It’s a picture of my 3 boys. They were ages 10, 5 and 3 at the time. There is the saying that a picture says a thousand words. A mother can see things in her children that other people cannot. I can see their pain in that picture. Fresh pain because their mother made a fatal decision to drink and drive and was sent away for a while. To them, I was ripped away from their world.
I would forget for a time that the picture was there. Until the next time I stumbled upon it. Each time saying to myself, not today. I just can’t. After months of counseling and countless prayers, I found the courage to do a brave thing. I took that picture out of the drawer and found a new place for it in my home. Not in some rarely visited room either. But in the main living room of my house.
It wasn’t like my brave act to take it out of the drawer made it not hurt anymore. It still hurt when I looked at it. I still cried. And tomorrow, it may still hurt and I may still cry. I’m still not there. But in time, I will find a way to sit in the same room with it.
The truth is, even by refusing to look at it, it was still in my drawer waiting for my acceptance.
Our flawed human tendency is to avoid anything that hurts. As if the avoiding makes it hurt any less. Why not sit with it a while? Or walk with it. Or limp with it if you have to. Let it linger and be fully felt rather than acting like it’s not there.
There are some sad things you can never make happy. There are some things that will always hurt. And as my dear friend recently said to me....”that’s ok. It will always hurt and that’s ok.”
And it is.
Sometimes healing looks and feels like very slow progress. Healing is doing the thing today that I couldn't find the courage to do yesterday.
What does your brave thing look like? What picture needs to come out of the drawer?