It's Unrealistic To Suggest That Happiness Can Only Exist When Hurt Is Completely Banished
One of my biggest fears when I share my feelings is all that I know will get lost in translation. I lose control of my words, of my own story, the minute I share them and it’s a surrendering that I’ve had to learn to do over and over again.
The weight of this woke me up at 5am after the Mic video of me talking about the holidays and grief went live. I woke up with my heart beating quickly and my eyes having turned into a place to hold tears.
It’s heavy. Understanding that I can’t control what someone hears or takes away from my words is heavy. I can’t control how they process my reality and whether they choose to go to the extremes - either romanticizing my strength or judging the vocalization of my hurt.
Since I was 10, it’s always felt uncomfortable for me to be placed on a pedestal for something I didn’t do, for something that happened to me. Losing my mom does not make me strong. Surviving loss does not make me strong. Millions of people do it, literally every day.
What makes me strong is that I’ve approached emotional strength as a skill set that I’ve wanted to hone, that I’ve viewed vulnerability as a part of my necessary exercise regimen, that I’ve sat with myself, in therapy, on park benches, and chosen to learn how to recognize my own hurt in a healthy way. In a way that didn’t stop me from living a full life.
I found ways to stop being a prisoner to my own feelings, that’s my proudest achievement in life thus far.
It’s why the harshest comment on Facebook wasn’t the one that told me to grow up and that people die every day - it was the person who equated acknowledging hurt with sitting in an all-consuming pain. The person was subtle in their delivery, quietly reassuring in a way that made the criticism feel almost parent-like. Except it wasn’t. Except it’s probably the best example of the reason why I said something in the first place.
The reason why I can acknowledge my hurt is because I’m not sitting in an all-consuming pain. I worked to break the bad habits when it came to judging my own feelings. I worked my way out of the defense mechanism that used to shut me down emotionally and led me to moments of complete numbness. Being emotionally numb was a resting state for me that I used to think was my only option in life and the only way to keep the hurt away, until I realized that it also shut down my chances of falling in love, of feeling loved, of being completely seen and wholly accepted, by myself and by others.
I shouldn’t have to justify this, or explain it to anyone, because again it can’t be my responsibility to control both what I say and how others interpret it. I should be given the grace of being taken at face value, my life and demeanor an example of how yes, I’m hurting, but also I’m really happy. The reason I’m saying something is because the person’s comment - and the many people in my own life who believe in a version of what this person said - perpetuate an unhealthy and unrealistic relationship with feelings.
Human beings are layered, it’s what makes them human. Acknowledging my hurt or the fact that I miss someone does not mean that I’m not functioning or having happy moments. I can walk and talk, at the same damn time.
All my acknowledgement means is that I’ve learned to respect all of my feelings enough to give them the time of day they ask for. It’s a skill that helped me cut down on the time of day hurt took up in my life and helped me leave room for other feelings.
The person’s comment also played into one of my other biggest fears - that anyone who encounters me may be led to believe that anything mental health related is a mountain that need be conquered only once. I’m in the process of walking up some kind of mountain every day of my life.
I never want anyone to think that them being at a different stage in their mountain climbing in any way means they’re doing something wrong.
It’s why I’m moved to be so honest about my own life. I trip often and it’s okay. I’m in therapy once a week because it’s the equivalent of going to the gym to not lose muscle. My past experiences with feelings do not automatically make me an expert in sharing them again. I’ve opened up to some people using very similar words, some reacted with openness, others by shutting me or themselves down. I’ve had to learn how to best pick myself back up when it’s the latter.
My stakes have been raised when it comes to sharing openly with my boyfriend - my deepest emotional relationship - and I’m at the beginning of relearning how to be vulnerable all over again. I still haven’t gotten to a place where my family is automatically texted when it comes to videos like these. It’s a side of me I’m scared to show.
We’re all at the beginning of something and that’s okay. It’s not okay to use people opening up to perpetuate the unrealistic belief that happiness can only exist when hurt is completely banished.
They can coexist, just look at me.
*****also yes I know that the comment says more about the person writing it than it does about me, but someone out there may not know that - this is for them.*****