Exposing the Wound(s)

<January 2009>

I took a First Aid course last summer, and one of the concepts that stuck with me is the necessity of “exposing the wound.” It’s pretty self-evident in the performance of First Aid, of course; if the wound is not exposed, how can one diagnose the injury and fix it?

The phrase has stuck with me, though, because I think it has resonance far beyond the world of First Aid.

I think that not only does human society/culture suffer from grievous “wounds,” but also that most of us as individuals also quite clearly do. And that some of us who are considered to be pretty intelligent characters not only don’t really seem to recognize the nature of our own wounds, but also how much we permit them to keep right on wounding us, day after day, year after year, decade after decade…

As it happens, I had my own nose rubbed in mine pretty thoroughly when my marriage began to break up. The marriage ended 13 years ago now, but the learning process had begun a couple of years before that (helped along by a very skilful counsellor).

I have a very different perspective on this whole “wound” business than I did 13 or 15 or 20 years ago, you understand…

The marriage breakup became a very profound growth experience for me. As I’ve written elsewhere, I see the purpose of our lives to be (sorry to be so irreverent…) transforming shit into gold, as it were. Using the “fertilizer” of our suffering to grow, as individuals.

Eckhart Tolle says “Suffering is the spiritual teacher,” & he also says that the purpose of relationships is not to “make us happy” (as so many people seem to believe), but to make us conscious.(1)

When I look around me, I have to say that a lot of the people I see seem to be, if not miserable, a very long way from happy in their relationships.

I don’t think enough of us have yet clued into the difficult realization that our relationships are meant to make us grow – spiritually. I think an awful lot of relationships harden into virtual prisons – or active battlegrounds.

I think there’s a lot of silent (in some cases, not-so-silent) suffering, secrecy, dishonesty & lies in many people’s relationships – & this strikes me as a truly tragic waste of human potential.

I’m one of those fortunate/unfortunate people who, in being forcibly sprung from relationships has been given a fertile opportunity to grow.

My environmental activism & my spiritual growth (such as it is!?) (2) have definitely proceeded in tandem. Now I’ve come to believe that this is not some freakish, oddball coincidence – it’s the way it’s supposed to happen.

As we work to heal our own “wounds,” we help apply First Aid to the world’s wounds. And vice versa.

However, as long as we remain in denial (individually & as a culture) – as long as we hold down our awareness & suffering, our pain, our wounds & our sorrows, progress/change remain very elusive.

Two books I’ve found extraordinarily useful in helping me understand the true nature of love relationships are Getting the Love You Want (by Harville Hendrix) & Healing the Wounds in Couples Relationships (Martin Rovers). (3)

My own bias, of course, given the extremely critical nature of the environmental crisis (did I say critical? It isn't critical, it's URGENT), is that we “expose the wounds” & carry out the “First Aid” on all of it at once. Evolve/grow/change as individuals – evolve/grow/change as a species/culture.

Sound reasonable to you?


(1)  I cannot recommend his books highly enough. A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose is my current top recommended book of all time!

(2)  Regarding "spiritual growth" --  I hope to experience lots more as time goes by! I figure as long as there is life, one can hope there will also be growth…

(3)  Rovers offers occasional workshops at Serenity Renewal for Families in Ottawa. Visit  that site for more information, or call (613) 523-5143. There are a lot of neat programs there. I found Rovers's couples’ workshop very worthwhile.