Listening With Our Wounds
To enter into solidarity with a suffering person does not
mean that we have to talk with that person about our own
suffering. Speaking about our own pain is seldom helpful
for someone who is in pain
A wounded healer is someone who
can listen to a person in pain without having to speak about
his or her own wounds. When we have lived through a painful
depression, we can listen with great attentiveness and love
to a depressed friend without mentioning our experience.
Mostly it is better not to direct a suffering person's
attention to ourselves. We have to trust that our own
bandaged wounds will allow us to listen to others with our
whole beings. That is healing.
Our own experience with loneliness, depression, and fear can
become a gift for others, especially when we have received
good care. As long as our wounds are open and bleeding, we
scare others away. But after someone has carefully tended
to our wounds, they no longer frighten us or others.
"Time heals," people often say. This is not true when it
means that we will eventually forget the wounds inflicted on
us and be able to live on as if nothing happened. That is
not really healing; it is simply ignoring reality.
But when we experience the healing presence of another person,
we can discover our own gifts of healing. Then our wounds
allow us to enter into a deep solidarity with our wounded
brothers and sisters.
But when the expression "time heals" means that faithfulness in
a difficult relationship can lead us to a deeper
understanding of the ways we have hurt each other, then
there is much truth in it. "Time heals" implies not
passively waiting but actively working with our pain and
trusting in the possibility of forgiveness.
Nobody escapes being wounded. We all are wounded people,
whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually.
The main question is not "How can we hide our wounds?" so we
don't have to be embarrassed, but "How can we put our
woundedness in the service of others?" When our wounds
cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of
healing, we have become wounded healers.