I suffered a severe ankle sprain a week ago. Watching the healing process has reminded me of another process, one we should be cognizant of when dealing with each other.
My ankle hurt badly at first. So bad that I cried. It swelled and had to be elevated.
But as the ankle heals, it looks worse. In fact, the black and blue discoloration was really quite gross and ugly at one point.
It reminds me of humans when we are working through the grieving process.
Think about it.
When someone close to us dies we often lash out at those around us. It is to be expected. Most of the time, for sensitive and aware individuals, we don't take this anger personally. We chalk it up to the grieving process and try to give the person who is hurting time and space.
Once the early stages pass, and the person in pain continues moving forward, they let go of the anger.
But make no mistake, when we are healing we can often be ugly and may not appear to be our usual selves on the outside.
It is much easier to sympathize with an individual who is physically hurting when we can actually see, with our own two eyes, the black and blue marks. So we have to look for the signs not reflected in the physical body when someone is healing from emotional pain.
This person may be curt when talking to you. They may be extra sensitive and lash out at perceived slights that were never intended. This person may attempt to cut off relationships irrationally.
These are all the ugly parts of the healing process. Sadly, the difference between these and a bruise is that bruises don't leave permanent cuts in a relationship.
If you are on the receiving end of a person's "ugly bruising" try to step back and remember that it truly is a process. Most recover eventually and may regret how they acted.
I want that to be the case with the tone and tenor of many United States citizens regarding the San Bernardino shooting and the anger towards all Muslims.
I hope, once the initial shock and fear pass, that the ugly "bruising" we are seeing and hearing so much of will diminish and that many of these previously tolerant and kind people will look back in horror at the mass labeling of Muslims as "terrorists", at the hateful speech and threatening actions.
If and when this happens, those of us who watched the process need to be kind. We need to understand that they were lashing out from fear and sadness.
This doesn't apply to all of the people filled with mistrust and anger towards the Muslim community (some will never change; bigotry is simply a part of the internal wiring of certain individuals), but I have to believe that many of the people in this country who are so openly ugly are simply reacting to the initial anger and sadness over the shooting. They are frustrated with ISIS and with what they understandably cannot understand. Maybe they are just working through the process.
Just like my ankle.
It has to get uglier before it can fully heal.
Our nation has experienced this type of ugliness before and I daresay it will happen in the future. Such is our species.
We should pay attention to mother nature, though, and not allow the ugliness to take over.
I'm keeping my ankle wrapped and I am aware of what the bruising and the discoloration means. It will go away and I need to speed that process along as quickly as possible.
I wish we could wrap Donald Trump and the others like him with an ace bandage so the process can't be broadcast so loudly.
I fear these wounds are more like a terminal disease for many though. Unable to heal.
Please let your fear be a minor pain; allow the bruises to work through the process but then heal. Go back to being the good, kind and sensible people I know you once were.