You're four years old and you fall down and get a scrape on your leg. Two days later there is new pink skin on the spot and you can run as fast as ever. The worst long-term effect is that for the rest of the summer you will have a light spot in your leg tan.
You're fifteen years old and a girl you like tells you she doesn't want to see you any more. Actually she doesn't tell you, she has her friend tell you and that hurts even worse. Six weeks later you meet a very nice girl at a dance and you end up taking her to Junior Prom. The worst long-term side effect is a bit of embarrassment over the past.
You're twenty-six years old and everything is working out according to your plans. You are head-over-heels in love with your spouse, your soul mate. Your new son is healthy. Your job is satisfactory. But for some reason you are uneasy in every social situation. The alcohol that was once a usable tool is now an absolute need. All day. It's not working. You hate yourself and want to die. One afternoon you remember a long-ago conversation with a friend who was talking to you (for some reason...) about how she was helped by Alcoholics Anonymous. A call is made. An AA meeting found. (You get a ride because you're too shaky to drive.) Your brief, near-fatal relationship with alcohol ends. The long task of life without the substance begins. The worst long-term side effect is that it doesn't just skin over like that scrape when you were four years old. It also doesn't simply get displaced/replaced by something new. You haven't got a clue, you haven't got a plan, except to survive. And you begin to learn about taking life one day at a time.
You're forty-two years old and your mother dies suddenly. You didn't get to say good-bye. You didn't get one last hug. She's gone. Nothing makes sense. Nobody loves you like your mom. Every hour, every day there is a nagging empty agony. Everything hurts. The worst long-term side effect is that it doesn't go away. A sort of callus builds up over the wound, like a tree that loses a large branch, but you can't say it heals exactly, because what is gone stays gone. You begin to learn how to go on loving after the one you love is taken away.
What am I driving at here?
No. I think I'll just leave it where it is. The process is ongoing, after all.