Tear them open. Shred them. Take huge chunks out them. Hey, feel free to throw them on the floor and stomp on them.
“Why do I tear up hearts?” you ask.
Because I can! It’s a free country.
Okay, okay, kidding.
No really, there is a more serious reason.
Abuse causes scars and scars need to heal. Sometimes when I teach healing through sketch journaling at the shelter for abused women we cut hearts out of paper, paint them and rip them. Then we staple them back together again in a crisscrossed pattern that resembles a scar. One woman made a cool lightning bolt through hers, one woman’s heart was black, one had rain drops, one dripped blood, one had words, another had images and another had a poem. It’s our heart—so we can do what we want with it. These paper hearts are symbols of mental scars in a very real sense.
We all need to find a release from our emotional pain in some way and I encourage survivors to examine the individual scars in their lives through art and writing.
What many people don’t realize is that when a physical scar is healed the scar tissue in that area is firmer, harder and less likely to rip or tear. For example, as a young woman my thumb was cut off at the tip when I worked as a custom framer. I still have the faint scar. It’s visible if I show it to you but only if I point it out, certainly not from a distance, across the room or even across the table. Abuse in some ways is like that, it fades but the scar remains. The mark of it may grow faint. And it may or may not fade. But we are stronger than before it occurred.
When we first walk away and try to repair our lives we won’t feel stronger. That comes later, after the healing. Still, it’s vitally important that you don’t forget the healing. Don’t go through life with a gaping, bleeding hole lying open waiting for the next infection of a man to fill it with his own form of poison because you didn’t learn how to seal your body up against the likes of him. The healing comes first, then the strength. It can never come in any other order.
A brief note to my writing buddies who teased me mercilessly about constantly losing my stapler—Found it!
Love you guys.
And a very special thank you to my good friend, Jim Saunders, thanks for getting me another. Now mine can stay in the shelter box where—I think—it belongs.