Our unhealed wounds are like black holes inside us. We all have at least one of them.
They are unfillable holes that subtly (or sometimes not-so-subtly) distort the rest of our lives with their strong gravitational pull as they attempt to fill a hole in us that cannot be filled.
These black holes run deeper and are more rooted in our being than the normal wounds of life we encounter. Their size and current gravitational pull may be influenced by wounds that we have gotten along the way, but the nature of the holes themselves often go so far back that their origin is lost to time. They are simply a part of who we are.
In fact, they are often so deeply a part of who we are that aren't even fully conscious of them.
They may not hurt in the normal way we think of wounds. They ache instead with an unending longing for whatever it is we think will fill that black hole inside us. It's a longing we often numb ourselves to because it never goes away.
The problem is that this incredible need to fill the black holes in us controls so much of what we do, how we react to things, how we interact with people, and the choices and decisions we make.
Because this control is being exerted by something we are largely unconscious of, it can wreak havoc in all kinds of ways that we are helpless to either understand or prevent.
It fuels those bad habits we can never quite remove. It causes us to do and say things we regret. It makes us feel like a master of self-sabotage as we continually seem to get in our own way.
For all that I talk about healing and the beauty of kintsugi repairs, wounds like this are often not best approached with a mission of healing them.
That approach often becomes just one more way to attempt to fill the ravening beast of the black hole in us. It's just one more way the wound can take control.
A better approach is to get to know them well.
Get to know the ache of that unending longing. Learn to recognize the ways that it pulls your strings. Make the connection between your wound and the unwanted choices, reactions, and habits that it drives.
When you know this wound and its typical effects inside and out, it loses its control over you.
Oh, it's still there. It's still doing its thing. The gravitational pull of its unslakable thirst is still real, but once you know it's there, you can work with it.
Now you can factor in the influence of the black hole into your approach to things. You can make allowances for its distortion as you make choices and decisions. You can work to mitigate its pull on your reactions.
In the process, you are also better equipped to work with the wound itself to soothe it in healthier ways as opportunities permit and perhaps to shrink its size with tender care.
While we may not be able to heal every wound in this lifetime, we can still get to know those wounds intimately and lovingly so we can work with them in a healthier partnership. It's work worth doing to better become the people we want to be.
What is your black hole of an unhealed wound? Do you know it well?
If you're having trouble identifying yours, I've found the Enneagram to be extremely helpful for this exploration in my life. In particular, Richard Rohr's book on the Enneagram with Andreas Ebert helped me see this part of myself more clearly and with greater kindness.
Thanks to Seth Godin for the prompt that sparked this post.
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