I've been having a hard time deciding what to write for today’s post. I’ve been a little tired lately. I’m a little too quick to accept that everything is bad and a little too weary to be positive and constructive. I feel like I’m failing all those who come here for productive and objective help, but today I’m afraid all I have to offer you is commiseration and a safe place to be sad.
I know to many it looks like I'm wallowing in negativity, but in my mind I'm just giving myself a break. I'm allowing myself to feel bad because even though the positive end of the emotional spectrum is a lot more pleasant, there's a lot of benefit in understanding the negative end of the emotional spectrum as well. Acknowledging and feeling the full range of emotional experiences that life throws at us is, in my mind, a necessary part of human existence. It is certainly a necessary stop on the path towards post-traumatic growth or what many call the 'transformative nature of pain/grief/whatever'.
The trouble is, for one odd reason or another, we're often discouraged from spending any time in our pain. Regardless of the hardship we face, many of the messages we receive explicitly and implicitly suggest we keep our feelings inside and for reasons like shame, fear, pressure, anxiety, and embarrassment, we comply.
I'm embarrassed to admit that I used to downplay idea that it helps just to talk. But then, I took for granted the fact that I've always had a supportive environment where I felt comfortable, safe, and accepted enough to express and explore my flaws, feelings, fears, and pain. Some people have never had a support system strong enough to hold them up, and there aren't nearly enough safe spaces in the world to shelter all those who are lost and alone.
It's also true that sometimes our pain comes from a place so scary that we don't want to say it out loud, talk about it, or even admit it's true to ourselves. We feel safer avoiding our feelings because it shields us from pain; when in fact avoidance and the inability to express and experience emotions associated with our losses might be the very thing that's keeping us stuck and confused.
I don't know what you've been through and I don't know who you have to turn to, but if you've been holding your pain inside I would encourage you to take the first step and say it out loud. Regardless of where your pain comes from, your experiences and feelings matter. So say it...when you're ready...wait till no one is around and tell it to the sky if you have to, but say it. Acknowledging the magnitude of your pain is an important first step in fumbling your way towards healing.
If you want to say it here in our comments section...say it. You might find that you're not alone, or you might help someone else feel more understood and supported.
You could also...
- Talk to a therapist or support group
- Talk to a trusted family member or friend
- Write it down on a piece of paper and then throw it away
- Say it to your mirror, just to hear and see yourself say the words
- Tell it to your cat or dog (seriously, why not?)
Yes we want you to acknowledge your pain, but we don't want you to live in forever-sadness, anger, resentment, numbness, guilt, regret, blame and bitterness. If you feel like your emotions have been impacting your daily functioning for longer than you are comfortable with, then I encourage you to talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.
Also, I know sometimes things feel so bad it seems like they'll never change. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of harming themselves or someone else, then we encourage you to call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255. We are just a website and we will never be able to take the place of a therapist, nor will we ever equal a trusted family or friend. That being said, to the extent that we can, we are here for you.
We'll be constructive another day. Subscribe.
We wrote a book!
After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief
for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible,
What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss is for people experiencing any type of loss. This book discusses some of the most common grief experiences and breaks down psychological concepts to help you understand your thoughts and emotions. It also shares useful coping tools, and helps the reader reflect on their unique relationship with grief and loss.
You can find What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss wherever you buy books: