When I was in elementary school, I once knew a girl who had worn a bandage on her knee for so long, her skin had begun to grow over it. She hadn’t removed it because she was afraid to and now, her body was just regenerating over top of it. I was worried for her upon discovery of the situation, but I also don’t remember revisiting the topic with her later. Now all these years later, I am somewhat disappointed in myself. I should have asked her about it again. I should have let her know at least once more that I was worried for her. She had treated it as no big deal. I expressed in the moment that I believed it was a big deal and it needed to be looked at. Then, I forgot about it.
Now I sit here, decades later, wondering how many of us in the world have had a situation of pain or fear that we faced, and we just let the new skin grow over top of it. Facing the pain or fear felt impossible, so we just ignored the wound all together. When we didn’t think about it, we could carry on with life; it didn’t even hurt anymore, most of the time. Maybe someone told us to stop whining; maybe someone told us, “it’s fine,” so there was no sense crying about it.
So, when the wound gets banged in the exact wrong way years later, we realize we have a big issue, that ignoring it didn’t make it disappear, and that our pretending that all was well actually made it much worse than we ever could have imagined. Perhaps, if we had given it the care it needed at the time, it would have healed gently and with little to no scarring, but now we are forced to address it in a much deeper way, with at least the same, if not greater, demands of life.
I also wonder how many of us saw this in others and forgot to ask again. It maybe wasn’t intentional. We all have our own things we are dealing with, but the simple act of acknowledging what others are struggling with can be a great help to their healing. You don’t have to schedule the doctor’s visit for them; simply saying something like “Did you get that bandage off yet?” could let them know that someone is thinking of them and that you can be there for them if they need your help.
Many shoulder burdens in life virtually alone. They may be prideful, or they may see your problems and not want to make demands of you, for fear of inconveniencing you. Just a small statement can remind them that you care about them and are willing to help if needed, even if it means helping them find whoever would be best to help them. Knowing they are valued may motivate them to take that step of self care they have hesitated to take, and feeling your encouragement and support could help them keep going.