The Invisible Wounds

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18 years, 6 months, 13 days, 18 hours, and 22 minutes.

That is how much time I had with my best friend in the entire world on this earth, my dad.

It wasn’t enough, it will never be enough. It felt like a blink of an eye. There isn’t a thing on this earth I wouldn’t do to have one more minute with him, one more second, one more ‘I love you,’ one more hug.

An open message to anyone reading this, who may know loss, on any level:

Grievers get up every morning and when they look in the mirror, they see the scars. They can see the cracks in their heart. They can see the hole that is missing from their soul. They can physically see the absence of their loved ones. They can see the permanent impression of tears on their cheeks. They can see the bags under their eyes. They can feel the headache that somehow seems to always be present because the tears somehow never seem to stop. They can feel the weight on their back that accompanies grief.

But to the majority of the world, these are all invisible to the naked eye. They are not wounds you can see. You have flesh-colored band aids that litter your skin to cover the scars, the wounds, the injuries.

It can be so frustrating, how these are seemingly invisible.

How can I be so utterly broken, but look like I am whole on the outside?

When you break a bone, you wear a cast. When you get in an accident, you can see the injuries. When you get a paper cut you can instantly see the effects of the injury, as minor as it may be.

So why can’t you see a broken heart? Why can’t you see the holes in someone’s soul?

It’s not that you can’t see them. It’s that you only wake up with the ability to see those after you’ve lost someone. It is as if the very event of losing a loved one gives you a pair of goggles that are permanently put over your eyes and allow you to see below the surface. Suddenly it is as if these invisible wounds were never really invisible at all. They are as bright as can be: red, black, stark white. There are neon-colored band aids just screaming to be seen. There is no way to possibly miss them.

Your wounds are not invisible, I promise you that. Simply because the world doesn’t have the ability to see them, doesn’t make them any less severe. It just takes a special person to come into your life and see the colors. To see the injuries, the depth, the wounds.

At 18 years old I lost my dad, and I struggled to find anyone who could understand. It is so far from their fault that they can’t understand, I don’t want them to. Because if they do understand, that means they know this pain. And I would do anything in my power to protect anyone from knowing this pain.

But it can get lonely. It can become frustrating to feel invisible. To feel unseen.

I promise you that someone will come along who can see these wounds. You will wonder how you lived your life without them up until that point. You will be so thankful for them.

For me, that was the online, grief community. My wounds felt invisible in my “real” life, and I was struggling. I created my Instagram account @theinvisiblewounds and suddenly it was as if everyone I spoke to could see me. They saw my heart, my soul, my wounds, my injuries. You saw that. The you who is reading this.

My heart breaks infinitely knowing that you see them because seeing them means you have your own. There aren’t words to describe how sorry I am that you have your own battle wounds. But I am so thankful for you. I am thankful for your empathy, your compassion, your love, and your understanding.

I hope these words can be a safe place where you feel seen. Where your wounds don’t feel so invisible.

Whether those wounds are from grief, or they are from anxiety, depression, PTSD, mental health, past trauma, certain memories, there are no rules for who’s wounds are invisible. A warrior is a warrior, doesn’t matter how they became one. Your invisible wounds are welcome here, wherever they may be from. I hope they no longer feel invisible.

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