A Band-Aid is meant to cover a wound, not to heal it. I’ve had plenty of skinned knees in my life, and I remember all-too-well the sting of Bactine on my owies.
“It will only hurt for a minute,” I remember my Mom saying. Only a minute, but it was a minute of pure torture. The icy-cold spray shocked the injured area and coaxed all the infectious potential to the surface and killed it. Just 60 seconds of the raging pain, then a cute Snoopy Band-Aid would cover it all up, and eventually the wound would heal.
It turns out that when we are able to pinpoint the cause of potential infection, bring it to the surface and apply the proper medicine, our miraculous bodies will heal us from the inside out.
Sometimes the wounds go much deeper though. And no amount of antibacterial spray can surface and disinfect the pain. And no kitschy cartoon Band-Aid is big enough to cover it.
I am tending to some of my own festering wounds at this stage in my life. And I am reminded that to properly heal the infection, I need to surface it.
My childhood was tumultuous and my adulthood bears deep pockets of pain, but despite my challenges, I have always put on a happy face. Even when I didn’t feel happy, I wore my smile like a Band-Aid and it worked perfectly to cover my soul-scrapes. Yet, the infection persists. And the infection alters the way I see life and the way I view myself.
Here’s what that unhealthy thinking sounds like…
When I wasn’t able to have children, I thought I was undeserving.
When I unsuccessfully competed for the love of my step-sons, I thought I was unlovable.
When I was no longer able to see my step-granddaughter, I thought I was unworthy.
When I am not included in events or relationships are strained, I think I am unwanted.
My wounded heart sees my worthiness as the cause of my own pain. If I had tried harder or given more, then things would have been better or different. And that kind of toxic thinking translates into a deep self-loathing that cries out to be proved wrong. And when no one is able to love me enough to tip the scales of my skinned self-esteem, I prove to myself that I was undeserving, unlovable, unworthy, and unwanted all over again.
Where is that damn Bactine when I need it? Seriously. Spray me down!
But there is no magical disinfectant spray for what ails me. The cure is in the slow un-doing of my harmful thinking. And the un-doing will take some doing.
My “fake it ‘til you make it” mentality has not served me well. It looks pretty on the outside and it covers up whatever scratches and scrapes I may have, but it doesn’t allow me to feel. Instead, it pushes me to get over whatever caused me pain. But getting over isn’t the same as getting through.
Getting over diminishes the gravity of what happened. Getting over implies that there was nothing of importance that warranted sitting in the moment. Getting over sweeps things under the carpet and waits for them to re-surface later in life because we didn’t give them the attention they deserved at the time. Getting over minimizes our power and maximizes our shame. And when you’re talking about something monumental like not having children, sometimes there is simply no such thing as “getting over”.
Getting through honors the challenge and shows our strength and perseverance to trudge through the messiness. Getting through allows us to feel the weight of the issue and experience the painful, frustrating, heart-breaking emotions that we are completely entitled to. Getting through promotes our power and protects our hearts. Getting through is our badge of bravery and shows that we have grown and are forever changed. Getting through takes time and patience and understanding and grace.
I am ripping off the Band-Aids and exposing the wounds. After years of getting over, I am now working on getting through.
By hinging my value on the things outside of my control that have caused me pain, I’ve been subconsciously creating a life where I will never be enough.
The “if I achieve this, then I will be deserving” or “when I accomplish that, then I will be worthy” ways of determining our value pins everything on external circumstances. That if-then thinking tells our psyche that right now, in this very moment, I’m not enough. It has us reaching out for our value instead of reaching in.
My goal is to disconnect my self-worth from the outcomes of my life and to stop the cycle of situational self-esteem.
Here’s what that healthier thinking sounds like…
When I reflect on my inability to have children, I am rightfully saddened and understand that it does not define who I am.
When I look back on the struggles with my step-sons, I feel hurt and know that it isn’t an indication of my capacity for love.
When I miss being in my step-granddaughter’s life, I grieve the loss and realize that I was not the cause and the decision was outside of my control.
When I feel overlooked or under-loved, I accept that as a sign that I am placing my value in other people’s hands.
Squirting a little of that antiseptic enlightenment into my painful places today, knowing that in time it will seep into my soul and help to heal my wounds.
Wishing you the strength and power of “getting through” for your Band-Aid covered painful places too.