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The Nail in the Fence Healing Wounds

The Nail in the Fence Healing Wounds

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Published by Tina B. Tessina
Emotional wounds, whether from words said in anger, or something even more hurtful, need to be cleaned for optimal healing.
Emotional wounds, whether from words said in anger, or something even more hurtful, need to be cleaned for optimal healing.

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Published by: Tina B. Tessina on Jun 09, 2013
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06/09/2013

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The Nail in the Fence: Healing Wounds
 
I received the following in an email:
 “There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of 
nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail intothe back of the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence.Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nailshammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold histemper than to drive those nails into the fence. Finally the day came when the boydidn't lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggestedthat the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all thenails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence Hesaid, "You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence willnever be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like thisone. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won't matter how many times
you say I'm sorry, the wound is still there.” A verbal wound is as bad as a physical
one.
 
It’s true words said in anger create emotional scars; and it’s better if we don’t inflict
wounds on each other, but if 
the wound happens, or happened in the past, it’s
important to know the scars can heal. Think about a cut or wound in your skin:Your body starts to heal immediately, coagulating your blood to stop the loss, thendeveloping a scab, under which new skin grows, until the scab is no longer needed,and flakes off, leaving a red mark, which fades, until there is little or no evidence of the wound. With a more serious wound, some therapy is needed, perhaps surgeryand stitches, or plastic surgery to remove a scar. Our bodies are an unendingmiracle
able to accomplish things without our even noticing. Things thatbiochemistry longs to be able to understand
never mind accomplish.
 
That’s a good metaphor for healing emotional wounds.
 
 
Emotional wounds, whether from words said in anger, or something even morehurtful, need to be cleaned for optimal healing. In the case of emotions, cleansingcan come in several forms. A sincere apology (which means willingness to change)on the part of the person who lashed out, can help
but the best cleansing is one
that doesn’t leave you vulnerable to someone else’s outbursts. In order to heal, youneed to know you won’t be repeatedly wounded. Unless a true apology, with
evidence of real change, is offered, then you must stand up for yourself, and tell
the hurtful person that you won’t tolerate the behavior again (and be willing to act
on it.)
 
Giving the other person an “adult time out” (retreat into cold politeness—
withdrawfrom emotional attachment until you get a sincere apology) not only will
demonstrate that you’re not willing to be abused, it will also send a signal to youthat you’re taking care of yourself. That creates the emotional climate for healing totake place. Once you know you’ll take care of yourself, the wound h
eals, and youcan then move on to forgiveness.
 
Forgiving Your Partner
 
No matter how much you care, and how hard you try, when you get close to eachother, you will occasionally get hurt. Even people who are responsible and careabout each other make mistakes, because no one can be 100% aware, and because
it’s not always easy to understand what's important to another person. This
emotional clumsiness can hurt, even when it's unintentional, so you need to knowhow to clear up the hurts when they happen. The power to resolve and let go of oldhurts, while learning to protect yourself from being hurt again, is one of the mostuseful skills when it comes to intimate relationships.
Forgiving for Real
 
Forgiveness is not easy. When you have truly forgiven, there is no lingeringresentment, because the problem is solved. You have learned how to heal the hurtand prevent its reoccurrence, so you can forgive and wipe the slate clean. Knowinghow to express feelings and figuring out a way to prevent a similar hurt fromhappening again makes it possible to forgive each other.
The dictionary defines to forgive as “to give up resentment of” but my definition of 
forgiving is a bit different. Giving up resentment is nearly impossible when there
 
 
are too many real injuries to forgive. It can also be unwise, because resentment isa reminder to be careful around this person or in this situation. Letting go of resentment without fixing the problem makes you vulnerable to being hurt ormistreated over and over again.
 
However, hanging on to resentment will not protect you or allow you to let go of the past and move on. As long as you hold onto resentment, you will feel like ahelpless, hopeless, dependent victim of your past history. You do need to learn toforgive, but just "giving up resentment" is not sufficient. You need a new model of forgiving.
 
Steps to Forgiving
 
Forgiving needs to follow these main steps.1.
 
Understand why you’re hurt.
 
It’s common to have hurt feelings and bedisappointed but not know exactly what it’s all about. What are you feeling? Are
you angry at someone? What did he or she do? Are you sad? Why? Taking the timeto get clear about your disappointment and hurt feelings will make it easier for youto be clear with your partner, and easier for your partner to figure out what to do.
 
2.
Know how to take care of yourself.
It seems very logical that if someone else
hurt you, then that person should fix it. But it doesn’t a
lways work that way. If 
someone who loves you has hurt you, he or she either doesn’t understand how youfeel, isn’t thinking clearly, or isn’t in control of his or her own actions. This can be
true in minor hurts and major ones. If your husband forgets your birthday, or yourwife makes an important social date on the day of the big game, there may beseveral causes. If the error was due to faulty communication or poor memory, youcan take care of yourself by placing a calendar in a prominent location in your homeand marking all important dates, perhaps with different colored pencils to indicatewhose memo it is. Technophiles can put in on their Palm Pilots. If a date is on the
calendar, there are no “forgetting” excuses. If the situation is more serious (s
heburns dinner when she drinks too much, he spends too much money on payday),then you have to take more serious measures. For situations like this, I recommendtherapy. Go with or without your partner, and you will learn how to take care of yourself until he or she has better self-control. Until you know how to preventyourself from being hurt again, forgiveness does not make sense.

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