Last week, I picked up the phone and called my dad with the sole purpose of telling him not to read the comments on the pieces I wrote for the Huffington Post divorce section. You see, my dad is fiercely defensive of me, and I could visualize the steam that would come out of his ears when he read some of the less than diplomatic comments. The last thing I wanted him to do was engage with the negative people, but he assured me that he wouldn’t do anything stupid. Right as we were about to hang up, he said, “Okay, I’m going to go pick scabs now.” And I knew exactly what he meant.
Picking scabs—which has to be the nastiest metaphor imaginable—is code for engaging in behavior that you know isn’t good for you emotionally. You know this and yet you simply can’t help yourself. In the context of relationships ending, I think many of us muck up the healing process by messing with our metaphorical scabs. Rather than let time and nature take its course, we do any number of potentially stupid things to make ourselves feel worse. Here are a few entirely made-up examples:
Jack told Jill that he just didn’t love her anymore.
Jill continues to call Jack repeatedly in an attempt to change his mind, often sobbing her way through a soulful rendition of “their song.”
Barb left Ben for a professional athlete.
Ben conducts stealth Facebook missions looking for photos of Barb and her new millionaire boyfriend, who never seems to be wearing a shirt.
Petra and Paul split up when he announced he didn’t want kids after all.
Pat gets a “booty call” from Petra whenever she encounters too many Huggies commercials and/or vodka tonics.
Everyone who goes through a divorce does at least one thing to throw their own healing off course, especially in the beginning. I was pretty good at obsessing over my poor decision-making skills, repeatedly beating myself up for deciding to get married in the first place. How did this woulda-coulda-shoulda mentality serve me? Not at all, my friends. Not at all.
We can’t change the past. We can only move forward, and as we do, we owe it to ourselves to leave those scabs alone, trusting that if we are patient with ourselves, our wounds will heal. If we can resist the urge to pick, maybe we can minimize the scarring.
I Want to Know
Confession time: What metaphorical scabs do you (or did you) pick?
Story time: Do you have any real (or invented) stories like the three I wrote above?
Would you like to tell your separation or divorce story? Divorced Before 30 takes submissions! Visit me at my other blog, emmasota or find me on twitter @emmasota. And, if you haven’t already, please connect with Divorced Before 30 on Facebook!