Bruiser or Bleeder?

Early in our relationship, my husband and I had a big fight.

During the resolution period he told me, “Don’t worry too much. I bleed a lot at first, but I heal quick.”

That got me thinking about the metaphor of emotional conflict as receiving physical wounds. I realized that I am not a bleeder, I’m a bruiser.

I can take a lot, but you might not see the swelling purple and yellowish green under the skin that takes a very, very long time to go away. Add this to a conversation I had with my cousin last night where we were joking about middle age and he said very matter of factly, “I notice I just don’t heal anymore.” He meant his twisted ankle, but it pinged in me a deeper concern.

Physically of course the young heal quickly and well because of their biology. But they also often heal quickly and well because they haven’t learned the hard way that some things never change and may not be worth healing for. As cynical as this sounds, I simply am considering this as an unfortunate but apparently very real course of events across the lifespan. At some point, we look at the increasing effort it takes to recover from conflict, and have to decide if we will willingly go back in the ring.

It is romantic and popular to propose that love means going back in the ring no matter what. I don’t know that this concept is in anyone’s best interest. I think each relationship and each situation has to be evaluated for what it is, and each person has to consider the personal cost for continuing to engage people who cause them suffering. I know my limitations, and I am usually a very good judge of character. I can see that someone I love is fundamentally good, but also incapable of change. Juxtapose that with friends who, though I may have struggles with them, I know in my gut that they are walking the same path I am and we will converge at some point. The love (agape love) is there and I can count on them not to bruise me in their own best interest.

Then there are those I love who I can’t really count on.

This is tough stuff, and I know it is hardly unique to me. For anyone out there seeking resolution, I am sending you my very deepest prayer for peace.

4 thoughts on “Bruiser or Bleeder?

  1. Elizabeth, thank you for this beautiful post. It brings two things to mind for me. One is forgiveness and the many shapes it takes. Sometimes it leads to reconciliation and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes trust can be restored, sometimes not. When you say some things aren’t worth healing for, I struggle with that. Because I still want to heal but like with forgiveness, I may not have the same trust or relationship with the offender afterwards.

    The other thing that comes to mind is this: When I talk about difficult people in my life and work, I tend to say “I’m learning how to love in new ways.” Helps to keep me from running from every person who injures me while keeping boundaries and honoring something of God in the other person. Sometimes learning to love happens while I’m trying not to boil over. Your post reminds me to consider the personal cost when deciding to remain in relationship with a difficult person. I wouldn’t want my bruises to grow into thicker skin and a hardened heart. Thank you for that.

    • Well said. Yes, you are right on it, I felt that way with that sentence as well. It’s not exactly right in “reality” but it was as close as I could come to how I really feel. I am a big believer in forgiveness. It’s the only way. But it can mean saying “Vaya con dios” to someone. The carrying out of forgiveness can be a long road. Thanks for your comment.

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