The letter at his desk three months ago brought his walls crumbling. Being a new graduate with a first class honors at the top of his class, he knew he had made it in life. His superiors did not know as much as he did. No, they were controlling freaks, who did not even go to the university. He had been warned thrice about his behavior, they had finally let him go. Today, his girlfriend had packed her bags and left him. She could not handle a man who could not accept his mistakes and work on being better. She had no future with an alcoholic. He was a laughing stock in the society, often slept on verandahs after passing out from binge drinking. He felt as if the whole would was against him. Nursing his bottle in the dimly lit chang’aa den, he wondered for a second- maybe she was right. Was he simply licking old wounds instead of moving on? For once he contemplated picking himself up and giving his destiny another shot.
A mile away, the former choir mistress of their local church was feeling nostalgic about the good old days in the church choir where she led worship and people were moved, floors shook, souls were saved. But damn that youth pastor! He had been so convincing, she wanted to save herself for marriage, but with his conniving tongue, had managed to make her question the need to wait yet they were bound to be together. He did no less to lessen her fantasies. Three months later, after being kicked out of church, having been caught in bed with a married man who was the youth pastor, she could not face her peers without feeling ashamed. She was accused of seducing the pastor with her provocative long dresses, there was no way the man of God approached her first. However, despite the shame, she asked for forgiveness from God, and slowly, she was learning to forgive herself, she hoped one day she would be forgiven by all who found her to be the devil’s spawn. Her life had moved on. She had accepted her fate and moved on to the next journey in life.
I define licking old wounds as a situation where we wallow in misery and self-pity over situations that have occurred in our lives that we could not control. These are defining moments that often break us, if we are not careful. We are soaked in self-doubt and constantly worry about what others say. We lock ourselves within for fear of facing hard truths, or what lies ahead. We simply have no strength to pick ourselves up.
Licking old wounds is a hobby most people pick up when faced with unexpected and devastating situations especially those they consider they brought on themselves. It involves constantly looking into the past on where things went wrong, blaming ourselves, and when we can’t handle the truth look for other people to blame. We then focus more on analyzing the past instead of picking ourselves up and giving life another shot. Licking old wounds can be a comfortable zone to be in. You do not need to face the consequences of your actions, because you lock yourself indoors, or travel far away from your reality and wallow in our own misery. We constantly focus on the past, on the mistakes, and on what we could have done different if we had the chance. The problem with looking at the past is we waste a lot of time on things that do not matter instead of trying to move forward.
We do it all the time. When we fail in our exams, when we are expelled, when we lose a deal at work, when we lose a case. The society is filled with so many expectations, that if we do not supersede what is expected of us, we are considered failures. The sad part about it is that we believe it and we focus so much on what we did wrong, that we forget the best part about life is all the memories we make will only be lessons if we let go and let God.
As we begin a new month, my advice to you is; we all make mistakes at some point in life, however, what makes us different is our ability to accept that we did wrong and move on. People will always judge, criticize, ridicule and mock you every time you fall. You need to realize, your life is yours alone, it is you who will decide to remain in the past or move on.
Accept your errors, seek forgiveness if you need to- from God, from yourself and from people you feel you have wronged. Also find spiritual healing. At times we smile and say we are okay yet deep within we are crumbling. Unless you heal the pain that seeps through your soul within, you will constantly be trying to convince yourself that you are okay when you clearly know you are not okay.
Last but not least, stop licking those old wounds; Rise up and walk
When a baby is born, they are thrown into a new hostile world, where they know not what to expect. They analyze who to befriend, and who they find an enemy. They don’t just let anyone in- be selective on who you open up to in your recovery journey. Then reaches a point where their legs itch and want to move, it’s a new territory, while others start crawling, others hold back a little because it is a scary experience, but they later do it. Same to talking, or when their teeth start growing.
Point is, instead of licking old wounds, or being comfortable in a zone, we can embrace change and work on ourselves. Rising up is more important than licking those wounds. Taking a leap of faith and rising up makes that baby walk. Rising up lets you take charge of your destiny.