Humans are dreadfully depressing sometimes. We are inherently self-destructive, regardless of whether things are going poorly or going well. We hate the pain of healing, but we constantly find ways to cycle back into the process.
The worst and most prevalent method of self-destruction lies in our inability to leave scabs (physical and emotional) well enough alone. We get hurt, the pain is real, the pain is alarming, the pain begins to subside. The wound scabs over. It’s fresh and, depending on the size of the wound, it’s very noticeable. So we pick at it. It bleeds. We start the process over.
We don’t learn anything from that first one. We watch it bleed, probably don’t immediately triage it, and then we sit with the pain for a while. After a little bit, it begins to scab over again. We’re healing. This is wonderful. And then we bump into something, it knicks that scab, and we bleed a little bit. Frustrated, we pick at it and make it worse. We’re starting over with the pain and the transition to healing.
We’re smart now. We know that we need to be careful and try not to damage that scab. We don’t want to bleed again. We put a bandage on it. Some time goes by.. and it begins to itch. We won’t scratch it. We know what happens. We bargain with ourselves. “I’ll just scratch around the area, but not directly on it.” The first couple times, the lie works. We manage to fake our way further into healing. Out of nowhere, it itches like mad. This can’t be ignored. Itching around the area does nothing.. we have to scratch directly. “I’ll just do it gently, just enough to stop the itch but not cause it to bleed.” It works. But then the itching comes back and we scratch it blindly while we’re distracted or tired. The sting tells us we’ve messed up. We picked at that scab and we’re bleeding again. Furious and frustrated, we pick at it. Why not? It’s already bleeding.
The pain is there and we have to once again transition into healing.
Sometimes, the scab never goes away. The pain comes rushing in and we transition into healing, and then back into pain, and then to healing again.. in a cycle that never dies.
We never learn.
We never heal.
And yet, we persist.
Someday, we’ll mean that promise we made to ourselves.