Healing Hurts

A few weeks ago I went downstairs, when no one was there, and gave our new kickbag a good kick.  When my son kicked it, the house would shake. I wanted to give it a try.

So I kicked it kind of hard, and nothing happened. The house didn’t shake.  Truthfully, the bag didn’t even move.  “Wow,” I thought, “that is heavy!”  Lesson learned: the kickbag is not for me.

Fast forward a few days and we’re in the basement, working on unpacking and moving things around (we just moved here a few weeks ago).  My son says “Hey dad, you should kick the kickbag.”  “I did already. It didn’t even move an inch!”  “Come on, kick it and let me see.”

So, I positioned myself, hoping that I wouldn’t twist the knee of the leg I was standing on, and gave a pretty good effort at kicking the bag, hopefully moving it more than an inch or two.  I wasn’t trying to impress anyone, but I didn’t want to embarrass myself.

The good news is that the let I was standing on was just fine.  Nothing twisted out of place.  But the pop/crack sound from my ankle, and the accompanying shock of pain, told me that I had made a mistake.  I was so focused on one part of my form that I didn’t think about where my foot impacted the bag. Turns out, kicking a kickbag (or, a cinder block wall, which is what the bag feels like), near your toes can cause some real damage.  Not to the bag, mind you.

What happened was that my leg kept moving forward kicking and, but the foot, from the tip of the toes, stopped at the bag.  And then ligaments said “you idiot! POP!”

And here we are. Two weeks in bed, with a few more weeks to go. The bruising patterns have shifted over the last two weeks.  Mobility has improved greatly. Swelling has gone down a ton.


Certain things hurt less… but there is still pain.  Based on past injuries I figure I’ll be walking okay in four more weeks, but still have pain. And I’ll be careful doing anything that would stress my ligaments. I don’t want to re-injure anything.

Behind all of that pain, healing is happening.  I’m not saying I like the pain. I’m not really embracing the pain.  I just realize that this is a weeks-long healing process, and pain is involved. Even though pain is a big part of that, and easy to focus on, I need to patiently acknowledge that healing is happening. I don’t feel healing like I feel pain, but that doesn’t make it less real, or less important.

This, my friends, is like what I went through when I got laid off.  It was painful… for a long time.  Even now, when I think about how it all happened, and why it happened, and the unfairness of it all, and how it impacted me and my career and my relationship with my wife, and my finances, and even my confidence in my professional ability… I still feel the pain.  Sometimes it feels like anger.  Sometimes it’s sadness and disappointment.  But it’s still there.

Has there been healing?  ABSOLUTELY.  

If you are in the throes of pain from losing your job (and your income, and your identity, your purpose), let me tell you that through the pain, healing is happening.

Healing, for me, came because of time.  “Time heals all wounds,” they say.  Time doesn’t erase all wounds, but it sure has a soothing way of decreasing the hurt.  It’s been 11 years.  Yes, I know… I should build a bridge and get over it.  But I’ll tell you, when something impacts you to your core, the way that did for me, you don’t just get over it.  But it’s not nearly as sharp and painful as it was the first year.

Healing, for me, came because of alternatives. Dick Bolles once told me that having alternatives gives people hope. And hope was a big part of my healing process.  When you don’t have alternatives, and you are hopeless, you can’t heal nearly as well or fast.

Healing, for me, came when I was able to rethink what my value was in this world.  As a breadwinner, my value was largely centered around my job and job title. It was my identity. It defined my place in my social circles.  It was really cool to say “I’m the general manager of my company.” What an ego trip.  When I got laid off, all of that haughtiness went away, and I found myself floundering. Who was I? I didn’t know!  During the time I was figuring out what I would do moving forward, I had to come to terms with who I really was.  And I realized I was much more than a title… even if the title was a big one. Stephen Covey talked about having faulty, untrusty centers.  A job title is definitely a bad center, and it took me losing mine to realize that I needed something much better.

Healing might come to you through any of those, or through something else.  Your journey might be different than mine.  But I want you to know that healing will happen, even if it doesn’t seem like it.  Even if it takes a long time, it happens.

A few years back I was camping with some friends. One guy was a pharmacist at a hospital. He worked with ER doctors and neonatal doctors, in high-crisis situations. I asked him what the most amazing thing he had learned, having worked in that environment for so long, was.

His reply was that he was amazed at the human body’s capacity to heal itself.  People coming into the ER with the craziest, seemingly fatal issues, and with some help, and time, they could actually heal.  Think about the miracle of that… broken bones, removed organs, seemingly hopeless situations… and given the right care and time, total healing.

My friends, I’m here to tell you, as broken and destroyed as you might feel, healing is happening.  Embrace it, have hope, and in time, you’ll be better than you ever thought you could be.

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