Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Just Rip the Band-aid Off!!!

I've been thinking about something a friend said to me quite some time ago. He said "you'll end up wondering why you waited so long." That very wise observation inspires this post:

When I was young I drove my parents crazy with my tendency to just "Leap without looking". Time and again they would lecture me about being "impulsive" or "inconsiderate" or "foolish" or "selfish". They would point out how my actions affected others and "created difficulties for myself and other people".

Long suffering and not always patient with me, they would remind me over and over that I should, at those moments in my life, "step back and count to three". I should think about what I was about to do and consider the long-term repercussions. I should consider how it might impact my future; jobs, relationships, reputation, etc... and how my actions would affect others, and I should try to make things as painless as possible for them. I should wait for the "best time" or the "right time" or the "easiest time".

Of course, their opinion was based on their assumption that I was in fact, selfish, impulsive, and inconsiderate. But I wasn't. In fact, I was doing what I felt was the most humane for everyone involved. Nor was I as foolish as they believed; having grown up as the "class scapegoat", I had already figured out that those who would judge me, are not people I want in my life anyway. Let them talk. Small minds have small thoughts. Why should I arrange my life around their opinions?

For me, doing something difficult or painful is like removing a bandaide....

Put two bandaides on the hairy part of your arm. Okay, got them stuck on there good? Now, very carefully start peeling one of the bandaides off, one hair at a time. Take your time and be really, really careful to try to minimize the pain. Are you having fun yet? Are you enjoying holding your breath and anticipating the inevitable pain? Are your eyes watering? Do you find yourself pausing between each hair, catching your breath and waiting for your heart to stop pounding before tackling the next one? Is it tempting to just leave it on there and wait for it to fall off on it's own, like maybe 50 years from now?

Okay, now the other bandaide...grab the edge and just rip that sucker off as fast as you can. Hurt like hell, didn't it? But only for a few moments. Sharp, agonizing pain that lasts maybe 30 seconds and then you start to feel relief. Not like the other one where the agony was prolonged, where every hair was a fresh torture session.

Yes, at various points in my life I was faced with difficult decisions that I KNEW were going to be painful; both for myself and others. And I always opted for the "rip the bandaide off" option. It just made more sense to me. Rip it off, get it over with, start healing, move forward.

The thought of "waiting for it to fall off by itself" was just too ambiguous for me. I don't like the idea of waiting indefinitely for something to happen that I know needs to happen, that is GOING TO HAPPEN ANYWAY. Why postpone the inevitable? Why not just get it overwith?

My parents never agreed with my philosophy and they were quite vocal about it. So much so, that the last time I was faced with one of those difficult situations; ending a relationship, I decided to try to do it "their way". I tried to "think it through". I tried to minimize the disruption for others. I tried to "plan ahead to make the transition as smooth as possible". I tried to make "financial plans". And so on. And guess what? My parents were WRONG.

Doing things their way only prolonged the agony for us both, it made the transition more difficult financially, it caused us both to pass up opportunities we would have preferred to accept, and by the time it was over we were both completely drained and exhausted. And the outcome is the same: we are not together and everything that would have happened if I'd just "ripped the bandaide off," happened anyway. It was just turned into a torturously long and painful 2 year process filled with "analysis paralysis", instead of a major upheaval that would have lasted a few weeks and then settled down quickly once the dust settled.

I like my way better. If there's something you know is going to happen eventually anyway, just do it. Let 'er rip. Go for it. Get it overwith.

When you peel the bandaide off one hair at a time, people get a little hurt....for a very long time. They sense it. They get tense. They fret and worry. They wonder what's happening, they wonder what, if anything, they should do. That's exhausting. Everybody's balanced on a high-wire wondering which way they're going to fall. It's like picking at a wound and not letting it heal. It's like; about the time they recover from the sting of peeling off that one hair, you peel off another one. It just goes on and on.

But if you just "rip the bandaide off", it hurts like hell and everyone scurries around in a panic for awhile, trying to figure out what they're supposed to do....and then they start healing. Really healing. They can heal because you're not picking at the wound, not peeling off another hair. There's no doubt about what has happened. Everyone can take steps to recover, heal, and move forward. And one other thing I noticed: when you just "rip the bandaide off", there's a flurry of friends who come to help you through it. When you peel it off slowly, you're on your own. No one comes to help.

My friend was right. I did end up wondering why I waited so long. Not because there was ever any doubt about what needed to happen. That part I was certain about. The handwriting was on the wall. I'm smart enough to recognize when the connection is irreparably broken. I'd spent most of my adult life working very hard at a relationship that was never quite "right" to begin with, and I had a hard time accepting the idea that I'd been wasting my time; that it wasn't "fixable", it felt like failure and I have a hard time with that. But once I accepted it, that was it for me.

Let's face it, anyone who's ever been faced with the decision to stay or go, has already tried everything they can think of to "fix it". And if you're still standing there wondering about it....well, the question is the answer. A person who wants to stay, doesn't think about going....What I wonder about is why I ever doubted my own instincts in the first place? But I guess that's a subject for a different post.

I think I'll go back to just "ripping the bandaid off".  In the long run, it's the more compassionate choice. Life is too short to waste it looking for the "right time", the "best time", or the "easiest time". There is no such thing.