Some of the challenges I have faced during the last few weeks have made it clear to me that I carry within me a wounded soul. A wounded soul is a soul that has been disappointed in some fundamental existential way, so that an implicit trust in the universe is no longer possible. It is not necessarily a paranoia, but a sense of profound disappointment that could re-occur again at any time. In many ways it is the opposite of naiveté, the confidence that the universe is a safe place and that things are fairly certain to work out.
Feeling this wounded soul moving within myself can be disturbing. The darkness within me is very easily and quickly cast out on others – they can become characters in my own personal morality play, signifying the disappointments I have encountered. If I have not received the praise which is my due, I cast darkness upon those whose efforts are lacksidaisical, angry that they have not worked as hard as I have. If I see others flourish and succeed with apparent ease, I recast these companions in my mind as egoistic and shallow. The woundedness within lashes outward, blinding me to the reality of these people and their stories, making me deaf to their struggles and their humanity.
But woundedness is subtle, a double-edged sword. That same woundedness can make me acutely compassionate and sensitive. It can heighten my skills at listening and connecting, at understanding those very personal stories that the same woundedness can also possibly obscure.
I think by a certain age in life most of us are wounded souls in some aspect, some small and some large. In some way the world has not met our imagination, our hope, our sense of justice. This pain is not simple nor is it trivial. You cannot simply “get over” this kind of wound or “move on.” It stays with you, grows within you, transforms within you. It is somehow not foreign or transient but integral. Rather than being something you can push away, it seems to be something you have to make an accommodation with, perhaps like an ailing dog who hangs dejectedly by your heels every time you come home.
In this productivity and consumption oriented culture, there is no explicit place for the wounded soul and nursing it. Even a minutes pause is somehow construed as time “lost.” But how can time be put to productive use when we are lost at even deeper levels, when we are unsure of who we are or what it is we are becoming? Action without orientation may be worse than no action at all.
What are your stories of woundedness? What safe spaces do you have where you can share these stories? Can you love that part of you which is most wounded, least capable of productive work, least capable of social performance? Is there space for a wounded heart in your life?