2.2
February 7, 2021

The Band-Aid Mentality: the Year I Learned how to Live.

Hey, I’m not knocking Band-Aids.

They are definitely good for the minor scratches, cuts, and bruises that we accidentally come by through life.

But, Band-Aids shouldn’t be used for more significant trauma. They just aren’t effective.

You could put a Band-Aid on a wound that needs stitches, and it might help short-term, but generally speaking, you’d eventually go to a hospital and get experts to help you.

Right?

Face it; we slap invisible, fake Band-Aids on sh*t all day. Marriage issues. Band-Aid and move on. Stresses within the family. There’s a Band-Aid for that! Problems at work. Stress, mental health, physical health, fitness, food, sleep.

Band-Aids in bulk! And on and on and on.

I’d been slapping those things on at an incredible speed for years. I never truly understood the actual problems, and never bothered investigating their origins. I absolutely didn’t spend any time at all sharing the pain with anyone. My closest friends did not know. And if I didn’t share the details with the closest of friends, then I didn’t share with any experts who could help me.

I didn’t have time for that.

I didn’t have time for myself. 

Plus, many people in my circle exuded this air of what strong is, or the meaning of what being strong meant. And I so wanted to be strong. Strong was definitely not showing any struggles. Strong was smart, to the point of knowing everything. Strong was brave but manifesting as disconnected.

Strong was a myriad of things that did not sit well with me, but it was easier to align with those ideals than figure things out.

Was this really, truly strong though? My mind would wander to the point of questioning these ideals and then…

Band-Aid it!

See, the fact is that we tend to do what is easy. It’s easier to disregard and move on. It’s easier to keep things on the surface level, deal with things quickly, and then plow through the chaos. It’s easier to sugar coat and not address things.

Finding the root of an issue can be uncomfortable. Most importantly, it’s time-consuming. No one has any time after all the other really important things in life, like getting to the gym, being the best cook at the potluck, being the most outstanding at your job, having the most successful children, and keeping your house absolutely perfect.

I tease.

One day at an in-service for work, my four thousand Band-Aids began to unravel. And then they just all came unstuck at once. Instantly, I found myself standing there struggling to breathe as all my invisible wounds started to bleed out.

I flatlined.

It was quite the journey back to breathing. I started with two whole weeks in bed.

Work had been lots of levels of stressful for many years. Sleep had been clinically bad for a couple of decades. My priorities were not at all about me. I was hitting mid-life, found myself single again, and had recently realized the huge step backward that this all meant.

Financially. Emotionally. Socially. Romantically.

This was compounded by the enlightenment of the enormous disconnect I felt with many of my friends. I didn’t fit the label of “wife,” so I was left out of that dynamic. Many a night, completely alone. Knowing that I made the right steps for me, but disappointed in the world for not attempting to understand that.

There was a lot going on. But, I kept this smiling, outgoing, happy-to-help persona.

No one knew.

I collapsed. I couldn’t focus beyond an hour. I rode the waves of highs and lows of fixing all these Band-Aided old wounds over the next five months, where I pretty much isolated to fix myself, only to be hit with the further isolation of COVID-19.

Sh*t, the timing of that was devastating. I was finally ready to approach the world again…and was ordered to isolate. What do you mean? Isolation?! Nooo! I’ve been isolating for months already. Sigh.

It was back into bed again. I cried a lot in March 2020. This morphed into sitting at home listening to the whining of those who “had.” I found it horribly frustrating. The have-less-thans were quietly going about their day, watching the sideliners complain about the insignificant changes that COVID-19 was causing. Insignificant in the grand scheme of things. People were dying. Come on now.

Good news, though. This pandemic helped in bringing my brain to where it is now. Where I am quietly and independently strong. So many people rely on others, their spouses, or partners. They rely on their things. Their stuff. Their status. Their image.

Not me.

I’m proud to say, I am pretty much Band-Aid free.

We’re still in a pandemic. I’m still lonely as ever. But I’ve found contentment in this labyrinth.

This was the year I took off life to learn how to live.

What I now know is that up until now, my protocol was to:

1. Smile, because I didn’t want anyone to know I was struggling. Plus, I felt guilty/weak for admitting that there was a problem in the first place.

2. Slap a band-aid on the problem and push on through.

3. Repeat.

The Band-Aid solution “worked” because it allowed me to jump back into my role, perky, and cheerful, and then to carry on, unfazed. This was important, as I didn’t really have to get uncomfortable and address the real issues.

What I didn’t realize was that the Band-Aids weren’t meant to help long-term. So over time, their effectiveness wore off, and what I was left with were old wounds, reopening when I least expected it—the awkward uncomfortableness of trying to find a new Band-Aid quickly to balance out pain.

I was trying to morph into the ideals that society and others in my life had placed on me; ideals that were written for the married-wife-and-mother. I was increasingly frustrated that others were continuing to hold me to those ideals.

Who wrote those ideals, anyhow? This resentment wove itself through my relationships with my family, friends, work, leisure, and beyond. They had no idea the stresses and struggles of doing it all on one’s own. I was continuously battling this, trying to overcompensate, but always disgruntled by others’ density and feeling that they weren’t trying as hard as I was.

But then came the learning.

See, my happiness isn’t dependent on others knowing anything. And I shouldn’t expect them to get it because they haven’t lived my life. Further, it isn’t my job to educate them. The people who want to know will learn. The people who want to connect will investigate. It shouldn’t feel like a battle. If I am low, then they should be there.

I can easily count the people who connected with me while I was off—in five months. That is telling, isn’t it? The old me would battle that and try to engage the others. The old me would find disappointment in how fake or shallow so many relationships were.

Why did I focus on those who did not show up, instead of those who were my friends, confidents, supporters, and healers? Who cares if it was a half-dozen and not 50? The half-dozen were real. Not just a couple emails to say they were there for me and to call if I needed anything.

I was in crisis; I didn’t know what I needed! I certainly couldn’t put that into words for others. My people were those who were willing to jump into the uncomfortable abyss of my healing and join me on that journey. Some cheered from the sidelines. Others, literally held my hand. But many, many just provided lip service. Or didn’t do anything at all.

That was telling.

And I don’t mean about me.

I realized that one broken piece was my perception of what was strong and successful. I’ve learned that this was about society’s focus on avoiding uncomfortable things. It would be hard to contact me during that time, as people would have to feel vulnerable in doing so. And who is brave enough to be vulnerable these days?

Right…not many. They say they are on Instagram. But a quote, or post, or photo, means nothing.

Do something!

I am surrounded by people who make themselves look strong by posting empty messages, or by highlighting themselves. It is often subtle, although, sometimes quite direct. They compare their own circumstances and make generalizations on how things should play out, based on their experiences.

It’s completely ridiculous that society functions with this ideology. I’m not going to pretend I know more about someone else’s journey than they do.

How ugly is that privilege?

Stop it.

Instead:

Acknowledge weaknesses.

Decide where you want to grow.

Dive to the deep and dark, but focus on how strong you are to do that.

Investigate the ailment.

Notice who is there to help you.

And then—heal.

Band-Aids brought me here.

But now, I look inward, deeply, genuinely, and honestly—to learn. I really fix the wound.

In doing so, I choose to focus my energy on me and those who support me. Overtly.

To my lovelies that help me do that, thank you.

~

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