No, I’m not about to romanticise pain. Wounds hurt, and nobody likes them, including me. But they do make us human, and I want to explain how in this post.

You know the saying: “Everyone’s got a little bit of madness”?  I don’t really like it (and if you know or follow me at all, you can already guess why: because it trivialises mental illness). But even I have to admit it’s got an element of truth to it.

And that truth is this: none of us is entirely okay, and occasionally, our (made-up word alert) not-okayness shows up, which is what that saying refers to as “madness.”

But it’s not something we generally like to talk about. In fact, you might be countering what I’m saying even as I speak. You might even be offended that I’m suggesting that you’re not okay. How dare I say that when you’re living such a great life and everyone loves you?

(Of which, if everyone really does love you, I need to have some of what you’re smoking. Wait, is it legal?)

Seriously though…

Why would I say you’re not okay?

Well just so we’re clear: I’m not okay either. Nobody is. And on one hand, that’s not a bad thing in itself. It’s called being human. We’re flawed, we’re imperfect, we experience suffering. But on the other hand, even though it’s often referenced in songs and stories in sort of a romantic way, in reality our un-okayness is at the root of why we hurt, and why we hurt each other. And the fact that we’re all that way doesn’t make it hurt any less.

Nearly everyone, you see, has been wounded in some way. No one wants to be, of course, but it’s life. Just like a child can hardly grow up without physical injuries, it’s practically impossible to be human for any length of time without emotional injuries of some kind.

[bctt tweet=”None of us is completely okay, and that’s okay. Learn how our wounds make us human. ” username=”DocAyomide”]

The problem isn’t really the wounds themselves, though.

So if the wounds aren’t the problem, what is?

Well, the problem is this: lots of people are still walking around with wounds sustained years, even decades, ago.

Allow me to illustrate from one of my favourite shows of all time…

Lost opening graphic

Lost was a hugely popular TV series chronicling the adventures of a bunch of people whose plane crashed on a remote island. (Many people I know didn’t like it, but that’s another story.) I totally loved it though, and what I loved most was the way the writers used flashbacks to reveal character. Again and again, what initially appeared irrational behaviour would suddenly became very relatable, in the light of the character’s history. And many times, that history depicted wounds that they had suffered in their past.

The whole thing perfectly captured the old saying, “To understand everything is to forgive everything.” (Even if it was only us viewers doing the forgiving.)

To put that differently…

Understanding a person’s wounds is the beginning of really understanding them. (click below to tweet that!)

[bctt tweet=”Understanding a person’s wounds is the beginning of really understanding them. Understand how in this post” username=”DocAyomide”]

And that’s what I mean when I say, as in the title of this post, that our wounds make us human: you can’t really know a person until you appreciate where they hurt. (You also see the import of the proverb that you can’t judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, right?)

Whether you know it or not, our experiences mark us in more ways than we often take into account. 

Because, that’s what causes wounds: experiences.

But with all this talk about wounds, simple as it sounds, it’s important we’re on the same page, so I really should offer a clear definition: what exactly do I mean by “wound?”

Of course, you know I’m referring to emotional wounds, and not at all to physical wounds, although I’ll be using the physical kind to explain the concept.

So here’s how I define it: just like a physical wound is the breakage in your skin caused by an injury, think of an emotional wound as the breakage in your image of yourself or of life, caused by a negative experience.

Make sense?

I really hope it does, because that definition is key to everything in the coming posts. Be sure to look out for the next one!

For now, share in the comments: what wounds have you experienced?

Published by Doc Ayomide

I’m a medical doctor with specialty training in psychiatry, and I love thinking and writing about what it means to be human.

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  1. Awesome read.
    Totally relate. I especially love what you said about “Understanding a person’s wounds is the beginning of really understanding them”
    I think that’s a really good one.
    Hoping I can be more intentional about that.
    Thank you so much for sharing.
    Btw, a wound I have personally suffered; Believing that I wasn’t enough.

    1. Thanks for sharing that, Dammie! I know how terrible that particular wound can feel, both from own history and from many people I’ve walked with. And I’m glad that particular line spoke to you!

  2. Thanks Doc.
    I quite agree with you that we’ve all at one point in time experienced wounds.
    Mine was jesting about the shape of my nose from my secondary school friend.
    He had the pointed ‘oyinbo’ kind.
    It hurt for a while but I had to admit that my nose is just as well crafted as it could possibly be.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Mockery related to physical appearance can lead to one of the worst kinds of wounds, because it’s often very difficult or even (as in your story) impossible to change, anyway. I’m glad you healed from that. Thanks for sharing, Adeolu.

  3. Thanks Doc, I totally can relate. I always felt that people don’t really understand me , now I know it’s because they don’t know my wounds. Thanks
    Wounds I’ve encountered is not being accepted by the people that meant much to me.

    1. Awesome, Florence! I’m glad you can relate! And you’re so right: when people don’t understand you, it’s really because they don’t understand how you’re wounded. Thanks for dropping by. 🙂

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