A Time to Heal

“The MRI shows that Allyn has some bruised and damaged tissue around his knee.  The good news is that he doesn’t need surgery. The bad news is Allyn is going to have to refrain from all physical activity for 6 months.”

Orthopedic Doctor 1998

I was in the 7th grade and my knee really started bothering me during football season.  It only took a few early basketball practices before we went to have it examined. An X-Ray and MRI later, I was sidelined for the entire basketball season and told I needed to stay off of it completely for 6 months.    

To say I was devastated would be an understatement.  I was really starting to come into my own in sports and didn’t want to miss out on an entire basketball season.  What was probably the most difficult was avoiding running and jumping in my everyday life. I was a 12 year old boy, and my life revolved around neighborhood games of football, basketball and being active.   

However, I was constantly reminded to look long term.  If I wanted to continue to play sports in the future, I had to follow the doctor’s orders.  So I said no to the pick up games around the neighborhood, sat out during a basketball season, and watched from the side during gym class.  I could only hold on to the belief that my temporary discomfort was necessary for my long term healing. 

6 months later and a new MRI revealed the bruised tissue looked healthy and I was cleared to resume all physical activity.  I never struggled with pain from that knee again and went on to excel on the football field at both the high school and collegiate levels.  I even had an opportunity to try out for the Atlanta Falcons after graduating college. Recently, I asked myself what would have happened if I hadn’t given my knee time to heal?  Would my knee have held up over time or would a minor injury have turned into a major injury down the road? I will never know the answer to those questions but can hypothesize that my sports career wouldn’t have been the same if I didn’t allow my knee time to heal as a 7th grader.   

That experience taught me the importance of taking time to allow yourself to heal from physical injuries at age 12.   Unfortunately, I am just seeing the importance of taking time to heal from our emotional injuries at age 34. The same way our physical injuries need time to heal so do our emotional injuries.  This is no easy task as the rehab necessary for emotional injuries is just as tough if not tougher than physical ones.   

There is no doctor’s note or set prescription that tells you how to heal from the death of a loved one, career setback, loss of a relationship, end of a friendship, or the 1000 other ways you can be emotionally hurt.  The process for me has taken time and at moments been uncomfortable.  My mind has needed to look long term and give up the idea of any quick fixes. I’ve had to constantly think back to 7th grade and remember that the temporary discomfort required to truly heal from any injury may be necessary for a healthy future.

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