Have you ever been reflecting on your life, and had an experience like going into a room and realising there’s a door that’s been wallpapered over?
Physical scar tissue comes from injuries that heal imperfectly. I’ve adopted the term as an allegory for something that happens in our inner lives.
We have different kinds of pain as we go along. We might react by taking a long time to work it through. At the other end of the scale we might try to act as if everything’s fine and carry on as normal.
But then what can often happen is that we cover it up to protect ourselves. It hasn’t healed fully, but it’s superficially workable. As a raw wound it was hard to bear, but now it’s out of sight, out of mind.
What have you locked away?
My experience of personal development work includes a lot of moments of being asked questions and my mind just stalls. Sometimes it’s because I just don’t work the way the questioner expects (for instance, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do visualisation exercises on demand). But often it’s that my past self has left blocks that I wasn’t even aware of. Telling the difference, of course, is the trick!
It’s quite an odd thing when you realise there are bits of your life that used to be important to you, but you haven’t thought about them for years. Your mind has conveniently hidden them away in a cupboard because there was some pain attached.
That could be because there was too much struggle, or because the thing you loved didn’t seem to love you back, or because bad experiences with people got attached to it, or because it was at odds with a self-image you’ve had (possibly given to you by other people), or all sorts of other reasons.
I was listening to a webinar a couple of days ago, with a woman who coaches people to move from busyness overwhelm to greater self-care. In a couple of her examples of working with clients they uncovered a thing the client used to love decades ago (horse-riding was one) but hadn’t revisited it in ages. Her job was to persuade them they could set time aside for this thing that replenishes their hearts.
They’d stopped thinking about these past treasures because of the conflict between loving them and the struggle to fit them into their lives.
Taking a torch into your dungeon
It’s a process of reclaiming your story. And reintegrating it.
Not everything that we put away needs to be revisited. It might not be the right time. Or maybe, sometimes, healing with a scar needs to be good enough to let us move on.
But it’s good to be in the neighbourhood of questions. They can be the light that lets us see where we’ve collapsed our own tunnels. They can help us find the ones that are worth digging out to face the goblins and retrieve treasure that we’re now ready to use.
The treasure might be part of our joy that we’ve been denying ourselves. It might be something missing from a hole we’ve been carrying around. Or maybe facing the goblins is the point, using the wisdom and kindness we’ve gained to bring peace, so the scar can heal fully.