Wake up, show up at work, show up for your family and friends, dying on the inside, but masking your hurt with fake smiles, social drinking, binge watching and anything else to keep your mind off of the incredible amounts of pain you feel inside of your heart. It has become easy to hide behind computer screens when we are faced with life’s hardest challenges, and often we dodge our friends who could probably tell something is wrong. We finesse our way through our day only to fall apart at night silently, alone, and isolated. There will be quite a few of us who will live to tell our tales of surviving depression, and various stages of mental illness, unfortunately, some may not. Some individuals will become so good at masking their pain, that their suicides will be shocking to those closest to them. They will have become masterful at blaming their low energy on work, or stress, but they will never admit to feeling choked and oppressed by their lives. They will never speak about taking breaks to cry at work in the bathroom, they won’t tell you the countless hours they spend researching the easiest way to die, and they damn sure will not share the drafts of the suicide note they’ve edited hundreds of times. You will never know until you are crying over them as they lay in their casket wondering how this could have happened.
Children who are not allowed to speak or cry freely with repress their emotions until they no longer can. At some point everyone has a point where they boil over, and all of their painful emotions bubble to the top and it has to spill over somewhere. Repressed children do not have to become repressed adults IF they take serious measures and steps to work through vicious cycles of untreated pain. How does anyone come to the point where they know they have something to work through? If your parents figured out their life without therapy, and seem to be doing just fine, then can’t you just figure it out too? Couldn’t Jesus take your pain away if you prayed hard enough? How about just making it through life by just sucking it up and dealing with your pain by yourself? At some point there is a reality that no amount of praying, hoping and wishing will take away the piercing and persistent pain in your body. You witnessed the moments where your caregivers weren’t too right. You saw the days when they could not get out of bed, and you compare that to your own inability to get out of bed. You observe your caregivers lack of sleep, and extreme moments elevated joy, but followed by periods of rigid and outright wicked lows. You see yourself displaying and living out these same behaviors, and you wonder; is there a connection here?
How was pain handled in your home? How did people grieve? How was heartbreak handled? Were you given room to be sad? Were you comforted? Were you given all you needed to grieve? What space have you given yourself to answer those questions? Do you know the answer? How are dealing with your partner, children, friends? Do you have a healthy space to be sad? Have you created a trusted group of people to support you when you cannot support yourself? In order for us to break cycles of silent pain, we have to create steps and put measures in place to protect us while still holding us accountable for our communication. What good is a group of people put in place to support, if we do not tell them when they are needed? Many of us have limited experience with coping with pain, and even less experience coping with long term emotional pain. The example was absent. We have to create the presence and opportunity for ourselves, to find healthy coping mechanisms so we can break the cycles that had us believing that trauma has to stay with us forever. We have to break the cycles that taught us that fight or flight were the only two options available when dealing with painful situations. We have to create a pathway to healing not only for ourselves, but to the children we have given birth to, and look to us as examples of comfort and ways to heal. We owe it to ourselves to break generational cycles of silence around pain that lasts for a very long time, dark days that turn into months and smashing the stigma that therapy is only for a certain type of person, with a certain type of ailment.
Pain is inevitable. There is no escaping the grips of pain once you are a person on this earth. There is a spectrum of pain, and a coping mechanism for each notch on that spectrum. There is a plethora of reasons people avoid pain, and a series of intangible repercussions which manifest as a result of the avoidance. We do not have to be avoidant and dismissive of our own pain. It is our duty to ourselves to work through our trauma, face the things that steal our joy, and be honest when we are unable to cope by ourselves when the darkness falls upon us. Checks, balances and accountability buddies are ways in which others can observe when things are not right with us. We have to be able to identify when something is not right, and we feel off balanced. This where a regular check in with a therapist can help, along with your own circle of trust, and a healthy routine of eating well, and exercising regularly. I can’t say what wellness looks like for you, but we all need a routine of self care which can serve as a guidepost for our mental fitness. We know better than our parents did, and therefore we have to do better. We want to arm our children with tools which will support their mental health and wellness. They learn that their lives, voices and sadness matter when they have the room to put their emotions on display. Knowing, and being shown that you matter creates trust and an opportunity to be honest when things do not feel right. Your voice matters. Your wellness matters. Take the first step today and reach out to someone who can help like Open Path Collective.