Thoughts on Band-Aid ripping and walls crumbling

My son started Mother’s Day Out this week.

I was talking to my mom and my aunt about how drop off went and they both told me about how similar his drop off behavior was to what I did as a child when they were dropping me off at school or daycare.

He did really well at drop off…at least on the surface. He went right in the classroom without so much as a backward glance at me. I told him goodbye and shared my wish for him to have a good day, but he had already entered the classroom space and had his full attention in that space. He had separated physically and mentally from me within a space of seconds. No hugs. No goodbye.

It was a seamless transfer, and one that you’d easily breeze through without a second thought. It went well – no tears, no unhappiness – why overthink it, right?

As I stepped away from his classroom, I turned back and caught a glimpse of him still standing by the door. He was facing the classroom, and I could only see him in profile. He had a look that was unsure and perhaps a wee bit apprehensive. I won’t ever know what was going through his mind, but it was a look that captured something I’ve felt on many occasions.

It was the saying goodbye quickly and without a hug that I relayed to my mom and aunt. The no hug thing made them recall my drop offs as a child. I would separate from them in a manner much like “ripping off a Band-Aid.” Quickly. Without a backward glance.

I’m certain it seemed on the surface an easy thing. However, combined with some of what I’ve learned about myself over the past few years, and specifically within the past few months, I think something deeper was at play in my conscious and subconscious in those moments of Band-Aid ripping.

I’m starting to connect all these dots in my life. I’ve decided to write these dots down. Lessons I’ve learned or thought I’d learned are beginning to sink into my bones. Those big life lessons like “let yourself be loved” are locking into place in my brain. I suppose part of that is something that comes with age, and then there’s these things I see in my own children that make me have those wonderful aha moments – good or bad.

I’m guessing a therapist would have a ball unraveling my idiosyncrasies. My behaviors surely range from well adjusted to barely adjusted, and maybe a few unadjusteds thrown in to keep things interesting.

God certainly created us as humans.

I’m beginning to cherish my humanness. It is a process though.

My Band-Aid ripping behavior speaks to my need for independence, my adaptability, and my utterly and frustratingly persistent habit of shutting parts of me or situations or people out completely. Easier to rip off the Band-Aid and separate myself.

I’ve honed the shutting out over the years, but as with anything, it catches up to you after a while.

I’ve shut out parts of myself to the people around with me with what may seem like reckless abandon. However, I’d argue it wasn’t such a random assortment of shutting out, but rather a concerted effort to hide from myself – to hide from my humanness. Surely rooted in fear. Sometimes it was a conscious effort, sometimes subconscious.

I am an only child. For some, that is damning enough. For some, it doesn’t mean a damn thing.

For me, I’m not sure exactly what it means, but I do think it explains, in a way, my intense need for independence, which at times is an intense fear of being seen. You know, if I’m seen, like truly seen, will I still be loved? (Spoiler alert: Yes. You are most certainly always loved even if you don’t realize it. More on that later.)

Anyway, I never wanted to burden my caretakers as a child. It started out as little things. I remember when I would get an ouchie as a child (technical term here), like if I scraped my knee or something similar, I wouldn’t tell my mom or whoever was babysitting me. I would either suffer in silence or get a Band-Aid and take care if it myself. Or the drop offs – better to move forward without a backward glance, than to burden them with my emotions. Emotions, which as a child are so foreign, you can’t begin to put them into words, so I’d step into a new situation and not allow myself to turn back even for a second. Those seem like such little things, but as they often do, little things turn into bigger things and bigger things turn into huge things.

I had a miscarriage last June. I’d call that huge. Life altering and huge.

I only mention it here as an example of something huge I didn’t allow myself to look back on…at least or a while.

My husband of course knew, and we eventually told our parents and a few others (I think). I honestly can’t remember who we told, but I do know it was around the time we started announcing our subsequent pregnancy with our daughter. More as a side note…a we “aren’t announcing this to everyone yet, because we are being cautious after having an early miscarriage a couple of months ago” side note. It made it easier to breeze through the gravity of pregnancy loss without actually opening up myself. Another ripping off of a Band-Aid if you will. Quick. Without tears. No big deal. Everything is fine.

I mentioned it in roundabout ways at different points on social media, but never a clear reference and certainly never face-to-face with people. Shutting out with the best of ‘em.

That whole shutting out thing gets tiring after a while though. It catches up to you. Those walls you build start to suffocate you, and you eventually find yourself trapped. Then they start crumbling because you’ve had them up too long.

I think my walls started crumbling late summer and continued into fall.

Bricks popping out here and there. Pop pop pop.

Then, right before Christmas (those holidays will get ya every time), there was an explosion.

Always, always when you are on the precipice of a breakthrough, things get H-A-R-D. Like, so hard, you feel like your whole life is blowing up in your face. Anyone? Me? Yeah, me – that’s how I feel right before I work through some big thing. You see it in babies, too, when they’re on the verge of hitting a milestone. Sleep and temperament and schedules get pretty shady, and then, BAM! A tooth! Rolling over! Crawling!

Anyway, back to my explosion. In the span of a week, it felt like my life was in disarray. Broken walls and bricks piled on top of me. I probably won’t get into too many details about the explosion itself because I am only part of the story, and the other part of the story is not mine to tell. I will say this though…the only way out was to remove those bricks.

It is difficult to remove walls you’ve constructed. It is scary. It is life altering.

I have begun removing those walls and have already emerged stronger, more open, more sure, more at peace. I’m getting better at not shutting out people and situations, and while I do think there are times the ripping off a Band-Aid method for dealing with life can be a good thing, it is also beneficial to step off into the depth of your feelings and deal with them. Like, really and truly own them and deal with them. Hard work. Another life lesson.

I would also highly recommend not building those walls in the first place. Live authentically (said without an ounce of irony because it is oh so true). That may be something most of us have to learn the hard way though.

And that, my dear friends, was one long post to say – there’s more to my story. I’ll share it when I can, as openly and authentically as I can, in the hope that maybe someone else will either not feel so alone or that when their walls start crumbling, they’ll remember a piece of my story and feel some level of comfort. This too shall pass, and you will be in a better place on the other side if you are willing to work through it.


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