About a month ago, I slammed my finger in my car door. Yes, that is the kind of immense talent that I have. I can slam my own finger in the door. To make it even more impressive, I was inside the car and managed to get it caught where the door meets the dashboard.
Truly I am remarkable.
But how I did it isn't as much of the point as what happened afterward.
For a few seconds I was completely, totally, irrationally convinced that my finger had fallen off. The pain was so sharp, so deep, that removal of the appendage could be the only explanation. My reflexive reaction of yanking my hand back when the finger got compressed had caused me to rip the digit from its home on my hand.
Obviously, as those of you who have slammed fingers in doors before know, I did not remove my finger and it wasn't long before I realized that. For a much longer period, spanning several minutes, I was very concerned that I had broken it, though. I probed, flexed, watched for bruising and swelling, anything that would indicate I was going to have to rearrange my morning and add a trip to Urgent Care.
Over the next hour it became obvious that I had not broken, torn, or smashed anything but I had bruised the smithereens out of it. In the picture you can see the red slash across my knuckle where the worst of the hit occurred. This pic was taken almost a week after the incident.
For a few days I looked like a weird ticked off posh aristocrat because I kept my middle finger extended when I did anything. Fortunately I'd damaged my left hand so I didn't do a whole lot with it, but whenever I did, I had to be careful because I was in danger of inadvertently flipping someone off in order to avoid touching the finger.
And I had to avoid touching the finger.
Because if I so much as breathed on the thing for the next few days, it throbbed in agony for the next hour.
After a few days it didn't hurt all the time and I forgot to be gentle with it. Out of nowhere I'd bump it against a plate or a door and shards of pain shot from my finger to my knee. Seriously, why do we hunker down to our knees when we hurt our hand?
As time went by the finger got better and there was nothing to do but keep using it and try to remember not to bang it on anything. Oh and keep it clear of the door when I closed it. I can't imagine the pain should I add another injury on top of the old one. I probably would rip the thing off.
Relationships are like that. We do something so horrible, so damaging that for a moment we think we've ruined it, blown it up, cast it in the fire of irrevocable flames. And sometimes we have. There are people who have managed to rip their fingers from their hands. But by and large, friendships are more resilient than we give them credit for if we're willing to wait it out and take care of them.
It takes time, though, and the area we hurt, the trust betrayed, is going to be extra sensitive for a long time. Even when you think it's all healed, you can say or do something that brings all of that pain back for a while. And it feels like a major set back but the fact is that the relationship is still healing and the fact that there are moments when the pain is forgotten is a big step forward. It's been a month since I smashed my finger and it still hurts if I press on it just right.
I didn't have much option about giving my finger time to heal. I certainly wasn't going to go have it amputated to save me the pain of a bruise. The amputation would have required more time, pain, and healing than the bruise ever could. And the same goes for relationships. The more vital the person is to your life, the more painful amputation will be.
So give it some time. Remember that the bruise on your relationship will be sensitive for far longer than you could ever imagine, but life without that finger, er, friend would be even worse that the hassle of healing.
*Side Note: This is not an excuse to stay in a toxic, abusive, or damaging relationship. When a limb or appendage is sufficiently infected, doctors will amputate it in order to save the person. Know how to tell the difference between a good relationship that is bruised and a bad relationship that is infecting your life. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you aren't sure which is which.
Man and woman on bench courtesy of nuttakit via FreeDigitalPhotos.net