Three days or one week?
I don’t remember the first few days after my father’s funeral, and that’s a big deal because I remember things for a living. I recall sitting next to the driver in the hearse as he drove like a mad man, listening to country music on full-blast. The minute this man dropped us off at the gate, I started thinking about going back to school. I could not take time to heal, the world was moving too fast, and I had exams coming up.
Those around me started inviting me to things, like hikes and parties, which felt like a cue that I needed to move my healing process along. I would laugh all day with my friends and then cry most of the night. Every time I smiled at someone, I felt like I was using everything in me. I was broken, but the world around me didn’t see that.
There’s this immense pressure to get back on track after tragic and traumatic experiences. I was the girl who lost her father, but I was also the girl back in school, so that had to mean I was ready to move on. I would have a few good days and think to myself how much I was moving on, and then, with no warning, I would end up in a pool of my tears.
Maybe the reason I don’t remember is that I blocked that experience out of my mind, and it is something I still haven’t healed from yet. Perhaps my lack of recollection is because I did not take time to heal, and that trauma is still a big part of my pain.
There is No Time!
Like me, many people go through defining life moments and then have to go back to a routine before the reality of what has happened kicks in. Three days or one week? How long does the society you exist in, especially the workplace, offer those who are mourning? How much time do you get before your sadness becomes an uncomfortable burden to those around you?
This urgency to resume routine is driven by capitalism. It’s either you get back on your feet, or your finances collapse. Then, what will your family eat? Where will they live? So, after three days, or one week if you are lucky, you have to collect the shattered pieces and get back to work. You will walk back into your life with a broken heart and act like everything is okay, or at least almost okay.
Losing someone you love is brutal, and the assumption that three days or one week is enough to heal is absurd. While it is easy to see the unfairness of defining how much time it will take to heal from grief before you are a functioning tax-payer again, what you don’t realize is you do the same thing to yourself.
Do you Take Time to Heal Yourself?
Every time you go through something heavy, whether it’s a heartbreak, disappointment, or general life frustrations, you think about recovering from it as soon as it happens. The minute life presents an inconvenience, your mind wanders to a place where everything is okay, and you are back to routine. Your relationship fell apart? That’s okay; you’ll be okay, right?
You realize that life will move on, with or without you, so you imagine that you move with it. You rarely take a minute because what if the world kept moving and left you behind? You can’t take time to heal because you are afraid of wasting time. Everything will be okay eventually; there’s no reason to sit around and worry about what has already happened, at least that’s what you think.
This is how you deal with pain; you ignore it or soothe the parts that directly hinder your movement. You acknowledge that you are hurt, but you think that the best thing you can do is keep going. Every time you deal with your pain by ignoring it or addressing only the most urgent parts of it, you end up in a loop.
You tell yourself that you are okay, you have moved on, dealt with your pain, and are ready to get back to routine. Then, one thing happens, and you are back at the starting point. The pain you thought you had buried from the betrayal comes knocking; if you pay attention, it never left.
Whenever you don’t give yourself time to heal, you collect pain and trauma and set yourself up for a major breakdown. These things don’t go away, they sit and wait for a trigger, and then they come pouring in the next chance they get.
So, while you thought you were going back to life after a painful experience, what you were doing was setting yourself up for more pain at a later time.
4 Reasons Why You Should Give Yourself Time to Heal
Time is valuable, and doing anything that falls outside the official definition of productivity is highly frowned upon. If you wake up in the morning with a heavy heart and want to stay in bed all day because that is what your body demands, you will likely think of it as wasting time. When you don’t feel like going out after making plans with friends, you are inclined to think of yourself as unreliable for not showing up.
Whenever your body, mind, and soul demand a deviation from the routine, you panic, you recognize the amount of time you will ‘waste’ by not doing anything. So, you drag yourself out of bed, go to work, put up a front all day, while you are thinking of how good it will feel to get home at the back of your mind.
If you are honest with yourself, the last time you ended up in a place that felt like rock bottom, did you give yourself time to heal? It is crucial to note that this is a crucial part of the process. You don’t have to move from being heartbroken to being okay within days or weeks. There is no time frame for how long these things take.
Everyone is different; what works for you might not work for someone else, primarily since you process things differently. Therefore, whenever you are going through something that requires you to take a break and heal, you should embrace yourself and listen to your body’s needs. However long it takes, taking time to heal is crucial in that;
1. Healing doesn’t happen overnight
You can try to control the process as much as you want. You can think of yourself as strong and capable of walking away from the pain, disappointment, and frustration in no time, but you can’t be okay because you want to be.
It takes a lot of courage to acknowledge the intensity in situations and face the problem head-on. Remember, healing is a marathon; it will take time, and there are challenges along the way. If you are willing to take time to heal, you should prepare for the pain. You will need resilience to get through it.
2. There are lessons you need to learn
The idea that you have to go through suffering and pain to learn or grow or become who you are meant to be is old and harmful. However, in as much as you shouldn’t embrace pain as a normal part of life, you need to understand that it is inevitable. You can learn through ease, but life has a way of presenting inconveniences every once in a while.
Since these bumps and bruises are inevitable, you need to be intentional about how you experience them. Are you going to walk away with something? Is this going to be one of the many awful things that happened to you that served no purpose in your life?
You do not have to appreciate the bad things that happen to you. Yes, they might have valuable lessons, but that doesn’t mean you should be grateful for them. This is one of the things I wrote about in my Limitless Existence book.
Stop anticipating a time when everything will be okay and take time to heal. You can imagine a better time; you can visualize it, but don’t ignore the process of getting there. Staying in the places where you are broken is crucial. Remember, all emotions are valid, and all your experiences have something to offer. Do not miss out on invaluable lessons because you were in a rush to get over the pain and hurt.
3. Your wounds and traumas are interconnected
If you could, would you shelf all your concerns and get back to them when you are ready? In essence, you already do this, whether consciously or subconsciously. When something too traumatic happens, your brain can block it out. While this is a natural reaction to experiences, it often leaves you with a lot of unaddressed pain.
This pain then informs your reactions and responses to things as it is a significant part of who you are. The life you have lived influences you, and in most cases, one hurt informs the other. Whether knowingly or unknowingly, when you are going through something like a breakup, it triggers your abandonment issues.
Thus, attempting to heal as fast as possible is unfair to yourself. It would be best if you took as much time as you need to heal. When one thing leads to another, and you end up in a spiral of thoughts that remind you how broken you are, sit in it. Listen to the places that bring you pain. Only then can you begin to heal.
4. You cannot do it alone
You’ve managed to go through all your experiences alone so far, right? So, you can handle this one as efficiently as you did the others? It is easy to assume that pain is personal and that you should deal with it alone. I am sure if I told my friends what was happening, how I was mourning my father through the fake smiles and uncomfortable laughter, they would have tried to help.
This loop where you try to fix yourself while trying to fit into a world that doesn’t know how broken you are can be damaging. You might have coping mechanisms such as meditation, journaling, yoga, and what have you, and while these work, it’s okay to need other people in the healing process.
My most prominent memory of the period after going back to school was sitting in the school counselor’s office, crying my heart out. He sat opposite me, with his yellow sticky notes in front of him, and he asked me how I was. The minute I knew someone was listening without judgment, I started speaking my pain. I decided to take time to heal by naming the thing that was killing me.
You might need to get someone else on board in your healing process. Find friends, family, or professionals who will walk with you. Remember, since you need other people, you cannot rush the process.
It is crucial to note that deciding to heal is not the same as doing it. You might want to be a couch potato for a day, but your mind is used to always being on the move. This might result in some negative self-talk, which can be harmful. The way you talk to yourself in such a moment is vital. There is vast power in the conversations you have with yourself. If your inner voice calls you out for taking a break, keep repeating that this part of the process is essential. Do it until the voice fades and you are left with your pain.
Take as much time as you need to heal; your world will survive your absence.