Ripping the Bandaid Off: A Metaphor for Healing

I threw some bandages over some small cuts I had, because they stung like crazy whenever I showered or whenever they scraped against materials. What I didn’t realize was that the bandages would end up irritating my skin even more; apparently I had some kind of allergic reaction to the adhesive. I eventually had no choice but to rip the bandages off, even if it would be painful for a while, to give my skin a chance to properly heal.

Because I love metaphors, I figured this was similar to life.

Sometimes the things we think will shield us from the pain end up hurting us even more—whether that’s living in denial, feeding an addiction, or pointing fingers at other people rather than taking responsibility for our own lives and admitting where we went wrong. Protective barriers we erect in order to shield our vulnerable hearts—like keeping everyone at bay or putting up a false bravado—end up hurting our capacity to connect rather than giving us a true sense of security.

I repeat: sometimes the things we think will protect us end up hurting us even more.

Maybe healing doesn’t always mean the absence of pain. Maybe pain is sometimes part of the healing process.

Maybe, in order to address the wounds in our lives, we need to rip the bandaid off and confront whatever we need to confront—even if it’s unpleasant to admit, even if it’s downright painful, even if we feel exposed.

Maybe that means acknowledging that our own selfishness has led us to inadvertently hurt other people along the way. Maybe that means admitting that the person we were in a relationship with was not right for us all along, or that we weren’t right for them. Maybe that means realizing that we’ve built our lives around our fears rather than aspirations, living solely for self-preservation rather than self-gift. Or maybe that means admitting that we are not okay and it’s time to stop pretending that we are.

Whatever it is, taking a sober look at the cold hard truth will inevitably sting like crazy … but without it, true healing is nearly impossible.

And maybe healing doesn’t always result from shielding ourselves, but rather voluntarily and courageously exposing ourselves.

Maybe anxiety doesn’t always go away by throwing the blankets over our heads and cowering in fear; maybe it decreases the more we intentionally confront what scares us, until the anxiety starts to shrink ever so slowly, inch by inch, year by year, decade by decade.

Maybe our trust in other people doesn’t get repaired by avoiding relationships altogether, but by daring to be vulnerable and letting the right ones in.

Maybe our confidence doesn’t grow by avoiding all challenge and responsibility, but by taking meaningful risks, choosing to have a stake in something, and pushing the edge of our competence.

The point is: maybe protection isn’t really want we need, but rather voluntary exposure. Maybe ripping the bandaid off to see what’s really going on is better than numbing ourselves with distraction and denial. Maybe we need to be willing to experience momentary hurt in order to give ourselves the chance to fully heal.

– Celine (@itscelinediaz)

(Side note: No, I am not advocating against the literal use of bandages. As long as you don’t have an allergic reaction to the adhesive like I do, by all means, use them! And no, I am not saying we should never strive to protect ourselves. Just … within reason. And no, I’m not saying that healing always involves pain, only that it can. Okay, The End. HAHA.)

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