A bandaid to hide the pain

What is a bandaid? It’s a little piece of plastic to keep a cut clean while our bodies work at healing the wound. The bandaid doesn’t actually heal the cut and, though we may think it does, it doesn’t remove the pain.

A bandaid solution is really not a solution at all. It’s just a cover to try to slow the bleeding while we work on fixing the actual problem that is causing the bleeding. If we ignore the problem now that we can’t see it under the bandaid, it just festers. We need to remove the bandaid and apply the salve.

I hear that people with healthy emotions (I’m working on joining this group) get very upset when someone they love is hurt or suffering. It can seem like a good idea when someone you love is having a hard time to rush in with a bandaid and distract her from her pain.

But sometimes, the best thing that you can do to help someone you love is to see her pain – acknowledge that it is real – and then sit beside her, on your hands. Empower her. Teach her tools to heal herself. Give her a safe space to try to climb her own mountain.

We derive joy from overcoming challenges. We build confidence from overcoming challenges. To deprive our children from struggling (safely), we are denying them the ability to believe in themselves. When we swoop in to save them constantly, we are teaching them that they need to be saved- that we don’t believe that they can handle this.

When we place a bible in the hands of someone who is suffering, it is a bandaid. Bandaids are not necessarily bad, they are not necessarily helpful either. Religion can provide an easy way to feel less afraid of your pain without even having to look at it. Just wear these clothes, and eat this food and say these words and trust that everything will be okay.

But a cut cannot be healed unless you look at it. Unless you examine it and understand what it needs. Sometimes everything will not be okay. And that is okay.

Some people say that religion is empowering, that it helps them feel safe. But really, I think that waiting for god to save you is extremely disempowering on a very deep level. We must always be preparing to save ourselves. We cannot rely on the lifeguard who may or may not be there, we must learn to swim.

A few hours after my sister-in-law had her c-section, the nurse came in to help her to the bathroom. I went to pull her arm up and the nurse stopped me. The nurse insisted that this new mama could get up on her own…and we waited while she struggled, and we walked beside her to catch her if she fell, but she did it. I thought the nurse was being harsh. But really, she was being terribly kind.

When we are willing to stay even for a moment with uncomfortable energy, we gradually learn not to fear it.

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