Time. We’ve been told we need it in order to “move on” from an emotional injury or a failed relationship, but I wonder if time can heal.
I have broken relationships – like everyone does. I had a roommate in college with whom I had a falling out. She ended up being mean-spirited and unkind – and living with her was our undoing. I made some mistakes, especially as our relationship became more tense. But then we were given this lovely gift. We both graduated from college. She moved back to Sacramento and I moved also. It has been over 25 years now. (Everyone should have this gift after a nasty breakup.)
I haven’t spent many minutes since then begrudging her or beating myself up. Time has gone by. I made better friendships. I married, had a family. Continued being who I am.
But that isn’t healing. It’s faded memory.
Can time heal?
Then there is my husband. When we were first married and had babies, things were pretty tough between us. Well, really tough. There were a few times we nearly called the whole thing off. It was ugly.
We hardly spoke for months on end – and when we did, it was aggressive, defensive, and tearful. So, after waiting much too long, we went to therapy. And eventually we decided to stick it out. Even though we’d changed. Even though trust had been broken too many times. Even though we hated each other. Why? I don’t know, really.
We gave it time. But we lived together, were raising a family together, and were trying desperately to grow up. We tried to rediscover a connection and things we liked to do together. There was little progress for a long, long time.
But eventually things changed. We learned to let things go. We laughed together. We took Anniversary trips. We focused on our kids. We sought out support. We got a dishwasher. We followed our own personal bliss. It wasn’t easy, but trust was regained. Love and commitment became more than just words in a wedding vow. They became real.
Sure, time was necessary. But I don’t think it healed anything. It gave us “time” to get better at letting go of things – and of accepting what is over what could be.
This year we’ve been married 20 years. We are about ready to launch one daughter into college and the 2nd daughter will be a Junior in High School next year. And things are good. But, I don’t think they would be if we’d just let time be the healer.
True, it is tougher to heal from something when we no longer see each other, as in my roommate. But it can be done – with some work. There’s no real way around actively engage in the healing of our relationship – if we want to truly move on. I still get a tightness in my stomache when I think of her. I wouldn’t really call that healing.
No relationships are a spectator sport. We are the players on the field. We are running with the ball, running into each other, and running out of breath sometimes, but we are engaged in the game.
I think that’s the way it needs to be.