No, Time Does Not Heal
If you’ve ever been in one of my healing groups, it’s likely you’ve heard me express my love for the radio. It comes up often when I use it as a metaphor for tuning our very own frequency. I also love the radio simply because I LOVE music, and I’m always curious to scan through the stations in different parts of the country when I’m on the road.
Recently, while on a drive between cities here in the Midwest, a currently popular ballad came on. It’s a standard good tune, ya know, it’s got a pleasant catchy melody, pretty chord progressions, it’s nice to sing along with, and it tells a relatable, sad breakup story – one which often plays out in people’s lives exactly as the lyrics describe it.
The singer moves through the story, telling of his emotional experience when his girlfriend admits to cheating on him with his friend. He describes the pain, and how his “mates” are encouraging him to just let her go, reminding him it will all be okay.
When the song reached the bridge, the lyric fiercely caught my attention – the very line that inspired this article and my eagerness to write about it. He sings sweetly:
“But nothing heals the past like time…”
And immediately, as if without any control, my response couldn’t contain itself and I literally said out loud, “NOPE. Time alone heals nothing.” And that, my friends, is the truth.
It’s not our fault for ever believing it though. The idea that time heals is fed to us our whole lives in various forms. It’s what’s modeled to us through other people’s actions… it is the advice often given when we are in pain – “Just give it time… Time heals all wounds… You’ll feel better in time…”. Unfortunately for all who are believing or have ever believed this, these words, while likely well-intentioned from the speaker, are simply untrue.
It’s quite possible your resistance is disagreeing with me in this moment, inducing a bit of discomfort. And in an effort to remedy the un-ease that’s showing up in your belly, and prove to me that I’m wrong, you may be scanning through your life right now – making a mental list as you recall all the circumstances and instances in which you’ve experienced pain and then felt “better” after some amount of time passed.
I’m not here to disagree with you on that. Or to convince you that you did not in fact feel “better” after while. I’ve experienced it too. What I am here to say, is that your lighter mood and absence of tears don’t mean that any actual healing has taken place.
All that happens with time is this: it creates distance between you and the events which, or person(s) whom, are associated with the pain. The intensity of said pain seems to lessen the more time passes because it’s not right in your face anymore. You begin to get used to not having that person around everyday, you make new memories and start new routines, and these things help to widen the gap between you and those aching moments.
So sure, there’s some good in that. You “move on”. As mentioned, I’m not here to defend otherwise. Here’s the deal though, other than the above semi-organically happening things that are creating distance for you, what else is actually taking place within all that passing time? Are you actively reflecting? Taking responsibility for your part? Digging in to yourself to heal?
Or is part of your “moving on” simply throwing yourself into the next relationship?
…another thing that’s encouraged and fed to us our whole lives – “You gotta get back on the horse!… You’ll win when you’re with someone new and they’re still alone… Go out on some dates, it’ll be a good distraction…” EXACTLY. Distraction. A new shiny thing to give all your attention to. Fun, new flirty feelings to numb out the pain. All this to avoid the one thing that actually needs your love and attention most. You.
Our song here, titled “Be Alright”, points to this trend as well when the artist, Dean Lewis, sings the advice of his friends encouragement, “You'll find another and you'll be just fine”.
Well guess what happens when you quickly “find another”? When you jump right into the next relationship? You bring all that pain with you. You bring all your unhealthy patterns with you. That relationship may look different on the outside, but the guts of it will end up feeling very familiar sooner or later. You’ll repeat the same patterns with the new person because you never did anything to shift it within yourself. You’ll seek outwardly for it to be different with that different person, without having done any work at all to heal the place within you that is wounded… without addressing the root – the cause of the pattern, the cause of what’s attracting this type of person to you, the reason you allow for the dysfunctional dynamics to continue. And you’ll blindly wonder here,
“Why does this keep happening to me?”
Instead of reflecting, “Why is this happening for me?” Hear the difference? The former allows you to avoid taking any responsibility – it’s easier to be the innocent party (and the woe-is-you attention you get from your friends feels better too). The latter, however, opens a space for growth. For curiosity. For exploration. For gratitude. What is the Universe offering you the opportunity to learn about yourself through this? What are you being given to practice or grow through here? What is it that’s asking for healing? Your pain is waving its hands at you, asking for love, and you’re rejecting it, ignoring it, silencing its voice.
If anything, without any attention or effort put toward our own healing, another thing time serves to do is reinforce the patterns. The false beliefs stay held in the psyche and the body, growing stronger each time the circumstance unfolds with a similar outcome – further “proving” to you that this “always happens” and then you just continue to lose steam as you continue to believe this, and the next generation simply learns to do it all the exact same way.
I know we can do better.
There is another saying about how time isn’t even real. That’s also true. And yet, it does exist in some sense in our human existence. The Sun rises and sets each day, our bodies age, and there is in fact a limit to our days on this planet, in this specific form. So a question you could pose here is what are you doing with yours? Your time, that is..
As I see it, the absolute BEST thing we could be focusing on is our relationship with ourselves. Grabbing ahold of that time after a relationship/project/job ends and swimming in all it has to show us about our own deep waters. Then we can step into the next “thing” from a place of more wholeness and deeper self-understanding. And then also know how to continue prioritizing ourselves even when partnered, or amidst an important project, etc…
Sound like a plan?
No, time does not heal. Truth heals. Love heals. Feeling your feelings heals. All these and more are available to you whenever you are ready to choose them. And I hope it is sooner than later… there’s really no more time to waste.
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For many years, writing has been one of the most integral practices for Beth in her healing & spiritual journey. Through this expression, she has uprooted some of her deepest pains, and discovered some of her most powerful insights. She shares her very personal experiences here to offer you a look into the rawness of her healing process, and to continue expanding her own capacity to be seen & heard in her vulnerability and Truth. / Beth also writes the Mantra and Recipe columns of the Journal, and shares more stories & teachings on Instagram.