No one teaches you how to be sad.
Now this isn’t to suggest there is a right or wrong or certain way to be sad. But there is a way. There must be a way. And no one teaches you how to be sad.
It’s really no one’s fault, I’ve taught this to my sister already and she’s only 8.
Pretty early on, I realized something about her, something that is likely true of all children.
When she would fall or trip or bump her arm on an outstanding corner (which she often did, 1: because she’s a child, and 2: because she’s related to me) there would be a moment of silence. This moment of silence seems to me to be a sort of initiation to the understanding of pain. It’s almost like they haven’t been on the planet long enough to instinctively let out an explicit when they stub their toe and the unfamiliarity of pain comes rushing into their brains like a surprising visitor.
But then the lag catches up with reality, and they realize: that hurt.
That hurt. Ow. That hurt, and I want to cry, I want to scream, I want to sit on the floor and pull up my knees to my chest because that hurt.
Except. I didn’t let her do that. Maybe it was just me and my parents, but as soon as one of these moments of possible pain would occur, we quickly manipulated those moments of silence into a moment of salvation.
As soon as G would hit the ground I would sweep her up, speak ‘it’s okay’ over whatever her small little brain was trying to compute, and hastily cover the scratch with one hand while distracting her with the other. Because if she saw it, if she saw the wound-well it was over. Even if it didn’t hurt all that bad, as soon as that little girl saw the little drops of blood trickling out, it was over.
I thought I was doing the right thing, the sweet thing, the ‘teach her how to be tough’ thing. And honestly often the, “I don’t want to deal with her crying right now” thing.
But I should have let her cry.
They should have let me cry.
Somewhere along the way, I should have learned to look the wounds straight in the face and weep at the reality. Skin was broken. This hurts. And the only thing to do right now is cry.
Our Band-Aids now don’t look like they did then; yet they still seem to nicely and quietly blend in with normalcy (*why black people don’t have band-aids will be discussed in a later more socially aware post).
Now those Band-Aids look like accomplishment: putting your nose to the grind, being the best you. Now they look like the glo-up, the, ‘let me come out shining’ attempts that really just leave you covering your new insecurities with money you didn’t need to spend. If I’m being honest, the Band-Aids can even look like forgiveness. Hiding under a quick ‘I’m supposed to forgive you so there, it’s fine! I’m fine!’
But Band-Aids only work on small wounds, and processing pain may actually be a process.
* * *
I heard Dharius Daniels speak a few months ago and it shook me to my core.
He started saying things like “The test of faith isn’t in the enormity of the obstacle but in the length of the wait.” and “Some miracles are not immediate.” He started talking about long suffering like that may be the only way it comes.
But he really got me when he started to list off some of the most foolish, immature moves of those in scripture, and pointed back to where each of our bible heroes failed to deal with their pain.
I don’t want to be there. I don’t want to grow a garden of one kind of spiritual fruit.
There’s more to maturity than substituting pain for quick salvations that leave you looking like you ‘really have it together.’
That’s what I see from the other side of a Band-Aid plastered heart.
I don’t have the guidebook written yet, but until then I’m just going to whisper persistently to myself:
Time doesn’t heal darling, healing heals and it often takes time.
*Featured image of this post taken by the ever talented Christian Garcia, check out his incredible work here.*