On Broken Hearts, Broken Bones, and Healing
Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it. - Helen Keller
As a rule, I don’t write about family stories, parenting, or my past here on my blog. I prefer to let my sons’ stories be their own, unless they say otherwise, to let my family’s stories be our own, and to let the stories of my past come out in fiction. I like to focus on the positive, seek out the beauty in everyday life, and share it here. But today, I’m breaking with that tradition. I need to write something personal.
My Son’s Story:
In August, my youngest son, almost 10 at the time, severely broke his arm playing basketball outside our house near Prague.
Since the bone at his elbow broke off in a large fragment at ninety degrees, his fall tore ligaments, tendons, and nerves in the impact, and required emergency surgery. We had an excellent orthopedic surgeon, but the rest of our experiences at the Czech hospital were truly horrific. Someday I’ll be able to write it … The work toward healing has been a long process.
Despite the hardships, my son has worked endlessly on bending and straightening his arm in rehabilitation, coaxing it to work and move again. His biggest hope has been to be able to play basketball and soccer with his friends once again. This past week, his doctor approved him to play sports again. We are all thrilled!
And somehow, in the celebration of his healing, I saw my own brokenness in a new light. The first 20 years of my life were tough; these second 19 years I’ve spent on healing from the first 20. Why?
The home I grew up in crushed me. My parents strived to make our family life look like the Cleavers from the outside (remember the perfect family in the television show Leave it to Beaver?). But the truth closely resembled Kathy Bates’s character Annie in the movie version of Stephen King’s Misery. We moved cross-country often enough that no one ever knew the truth. As a child growing up in that environment, there was no exit.
Life sometimes breaks our hearts.
Now, as I approach age forty, I know one thing for sure: there is no way to live fully without getting hurt. But healing does come, if we let it.
I owe so much of who I am today to a handful of key people who came into my life at just the right times when I was in college, and I’m so grateful for their help. Healing from severe abuse takes a long time, but it is possible. A few things also help me, daily:
- A book on encouragement. My personal favorite: Encouragement for Life by Charles Swindoll
- A book for perspective on my passion, writing: Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle
- A book to refuel my soul and strengthen my faith: Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado
- A story (novel) to remind me of how we’re all united in brokenness. Favorites here at Goodreads. Classic fav: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.
- Music, painting, photography, sports, food, wine, family time, games, friends, travel, giving, art, beauty.
And somehow, mysteriously, the process of healing begins.
Healing is a mystery, isn’t it? And it’s also Divine. We can’t heal on our own.
The Caveat, and Also the Beauty:
For my son, we learned that his arm will never work the way it would have before his accident. It won’t ever straighten or bend completely, and growth may become a major problem later. But, the one positive light in the whole experience is that my son has learned and grown so much from the accident. He has a greater understanding of pain and empathy, a higher tolerance for tough circumstances, and a sunnier outlook on life.
For me, I know I’m not the same person I would have been without the experiences I’ve had, and my perspective, too, is different.
This I know for sure: whatever ways life breaks us, it is still possible to become happy, healthy and living-fully human beings. We may never be exactly the same person as before, but we can choose to become more, to overcome, and to soar in a new way.
For you: What helps you to overcome your past?