When Band-Aids Are All You Have

And Why People with Better Options Need To Shut Up.

I’m about to rip one of these off of a lot of you. Get ready. | Photo by Possessed Photography on Unsplash

Social media is tearing apart the saying about teaching a man to fish, stating the obvious “You can feed a starving man, THEN teach him to fish. After all, it’s much easier to learn when you aren’t starving.” 

I specifically use the word “obvious” because we are all old enough to know how true it is. Being fed is such an important part of the learning process that it is a hot issue in America, where 1 in 6 children lack the food they need for proper development. 

Starvation is connected with depression, anxiety, and a lack of concentration. Each of these have a direct impact on being able to retain information as it is taught. Spoiler Alert: The impact isn’t one that makes it easier to learn. 

Resources for the Needy

Free and easy access to support is only rampant in a highly-fictionalized America. It doesn’t take very much money to be unable to access resources for the needy. It is also common for rural areas to not have access to programs that larger cities offer. 

I used to volunteer for the Nashville Legal Aid Society. In order to qualify for assistance, you had to have a matter that wasn’t a fee generating case (which is any time you are suing for money) and you couldn’t make more than minimum wage while working full time unless you had dependents to offset this amount. You also had to be a resident of the Greater Nashville Area (Davidson County). 

Someone who was between jobs and living in another county would not be able to come to us for help in an eviction matter simply because they were not in the county. They would have to go to a local legal aid. Spoiler alert: Not EVERY county has such support programs. 

Cow barn
We have room for one person in our mange…uh…shelter. Which of your kids would you like to keep safe? | Photo by bert b on Unsplash

The media doesn’t help. Many TV shows take place in cities where resources are ample. People who have never been without are bombarded with images of welfare queens taking advantage of a system that seems easy to game to those on the outside. These ideals often keep people from contributing to charitable foundations – they sincerely believe that there is plenty of help out there. 

It must be nice to have grown up so comfortable that you can honestly believe that. The reality is just the exact opposite, if you are wondering how far off you were.

Survival Mode

When my father died, my mother and I went from living in the projects on welfare to living in a decent house for the first time since I was born. Social security paid substantially better. How did it change our lives? We ate out a lot. We got a new TV, cable, and a lot of food that we’ve been unable to have (name brand soda, for example). 

Though we were in a position where we could save money for the first time, we didn’t. We were so used to just spending everything because we have never had enough for it to matter anyway. We were no longer in the position where this was the case, but our lives hadn’t taught us how to handle the new money. 

Rather than saving and getting a car, we were more than happy to taxi everywhere, several times a month. Rather than saving for emergencies, we wound up having to go to the Red Cross for help in the middle of the night when our upstairs neighbor started a house fire. I was a child who didn’t know any better. My mother was an adult who didn’t know any better and had no outside influence to encourage her to do otherwise. 

Survival mode blocks all long term thinking because of the need to survive the moment. It comes from our fight or flight mode. It didn’t matter if you were planning on picking berries tomorrow if there is a bear chasing you right now. All of your senses are focused on your right now – not your tomorrow. Tomorrow doesn’t matter if you don’t survive today.

Oh yeah…I need to do a deep condition of my hair tonight. | Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

Escaping Survival Mode Mentality

Escaping survival mode takes a lot of work. It completely colors how you see every aspect of life. Once you have been forced into it for a while, it begins to strip the idea that things can change from your mind; you convince yourself that this is just how the world works as a whole.

Survival mode rewires your brain so that you will be facing a lack of focus/energy, inability to regulate emotions, an increase in impulsivity, and a decrease in the desire to take care of yourself. All of this is in addition to whatever situational issues you are facing. That is what makes it such an uphill battle. 

How People Mean Well But Make It Worse

Sometimes, life sucks. There is no positive when a healthy person is killed in a car accident. There is no making that better. No matter how much we all want to help someone who might be going through such a loss, there is nothing that we can do that will make their lives better at that moment. 

We can make the moment suck less. By being compassionate to someone who lost a loved one, it does help to ease the pain, but it will never cure the pain. We can’t do anything to fix the situation. But, there are a ton of ways to make it worse and people excel at finding those while trying to be helpful

I was 23 when my little brother was killed in a fluke car accident. Not many of my friends had experienced a real family loss, and those with such experience were maybe limited to having lost a grandparent. Nobody in my life lost a young person.

I had to keep in mind that they all meant well when they were trying to connect with me. People discussing losing a 90-year-old with a lifetime to prepare for the loss were just trying to connect. But, it got irritating hearing about it because it wasn’t the same. Losing someone who really could have passed away of natural causes at any given day over the past ten years isn’t the same as losing a healthy teenager just because someone else didn’t feel like turning on their headlights. 

Sometimes, band-aids are all that we have to hold an injury. We don’t all get the luxury of adequate care. We don’t all have the blessings of a support system to supplement what we lack. The only thing worse than not having that in a time of need is the assumption that most make about how this is to the contrary. 

If you have been blessed to get to have a cast put on your broken bone, there is very little for you to say when someone has to use a band-aid for theirs. Unless you have a cast to share, your words won’t do much. Make sure they’re good words before throwing them at someone while they’re injured. 

If you are going through life with only a band-aid holding you together, you are seen and heard. Much love and blessings.

Neth W.

What bandages are holding me together? Can I upgrade to cast? Do I even need them?


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