Too much positive thinking? Yes, I do believe it possible. Optimism has its place but there is no place for it when someone cannot hear because they are so mired in the opposite by circumstances beyond their control.
Have you ever been going through a horrible period in your life and had someone say: “just forget about it” or “oh, well.” Oh my dear Creator God in heaven, if there is one, how can this be?
Let’s just forget Hitler’s horrific reign and slavery and domestic violence while we are at it. Ignoring one is as good as ignoring the many in my opinion.
Still, changing your thinking is possible.
I know this from personal experience. But knowing when someone is incapable of such mind empowerment because they are in the swallows of the great throat of blackness known as depression, loss, grieving or other emotional processing serves only to peel their fingertips off the edge of the cliff and thrust them deeper into the pitch. How do I know this? Because it happened to me.
Processing emotions, trauma and shock are all a natural part of being human.
If left unprocessed or unacknowledged, I believe human emotion spirals down into blackness to later manifest as the explosive road rage and unnecessary violence we see employed as remedy every day in society. I remember a co-worker years ago who had taken much of the same training I had in working with survivors of domestic violence. One of her stock phrases to the program clients and us, as her co-workers who were often exhausted by the horror and magnitude of cruelty some humans are capable of was: “Feel the feelings.”
Simple but worth remembering. It has helped me a great deal over the years when enduring hardships. Instead of feeling “guilty” for emotions I did not “order up,” as many of the negating, dismissive types would have me believe, I simply recognize the feelings, feel them, process them and, in doing so, set them free. It takes as long as it takes for me. There is no stock answer or time frame for anyone. It would be inhumane, in my opinion, to even think one could “deadline” their grieving or losses as if it were a business transaction and by this date, boom, it’s all stitched up neatly never to cross your mind again. Robot, anyone?
In my experience, if feelings and emotions are not even acknowledged there is a danger of getting stuck in them, lugging around invisible weight of emotional bombs that manifest in the real world in ways you least expect. I see this in myself where I manage to “keep pedalling” as fast and hard as I can through the big stuff and all the world around me assumes I am doing wonderfully. But in private, I will stub my toe or burn my hand on the oven and burst into tears as if my heart was broken. Because it probably still is and I have to allow myself the courtesy and softness, the safety of processing until it’s all out. While my emotions do not manifest as raging outbursts toward others, I turn inward and, while better than harming others, it can be very self harming to withdraw and feel there is no safe place to be in the world, no safe person who will simply let you “be.”
After I lost my mother, job, dog, boyfriend and was enduring health issues for over a year that had me passing out cold every hour to the point of breaking my nose in three places, I became very depressed. It took me a year to get the wind beneath my wings. I couldn’t even write a thing, couldn’t even read until February/March of 2011 so that is saying something for me. What did I do? I kept looking for a job, took three courses, started writing this web blog in March and began work on the story of my mother’s life. So I was not idly wallowing in the depths but I do see that I needed the grace of time and support to process and come out the other side. Rowing there all by yourself is the hard part. But I did it. Or so I thought.
Then, in September of this year just when things began to feel normalized, well, as normal as one can get under the circumstances beyond my control, I endured another blow and nearly lost two long time friends over it. One of approximately 20 years is history never to be revived again. The other of over three decades is in progress just as my emotions are. When my mother died, I did not sleep for fourteen days. When I shared this with a long time friend as well as the fact that I was extremely depressed, she said, “Now I don’t know what to say that you might commit suicide on me!” Thank you for the education in what really matters to you and Goodbye was what I said after much struggling for healthy, safe communication. There went one longtime friendship. When this recent emotional bomb of September 2011 was dropped in my lap, I did not sleep, eat or move for three days.
But for those kind hearts who could see beyond what my semi-functional outer persona presented, I wouldn’t be writing this now. I would still be paralytic in shock and trauma of just how cruel “friends” can be, the breaches of trust so devastating, you think there is no place or person you can ever trust again. I am still working on that. I just want to thank everyone who has been here for me in every way possible, to not only hear me but offer their kindness while I work through my feelings and emotions to the other side. Still rowing as hard as I can
Thank you for acknowledging me and my “humanness.”
“Just don’t acknowledge them” has to be one of the cruelest actions/phrases ever. Acknowledgement and listening, to me, are the highest forms of valuing others.
You know those frozen-eyed people who pass by the homeless or mentally unstable in the street? I never want to be among them.
While I’ll be the first to admit, I have said, “Get a job,” instead of contributing change, it was to a perfectly healthy young person who had enough marbles about himself to ditch my polite questions for a better prospect that didn’t cost him as much. Other times, I might have stopped the car where I saw a shabbily dressed woman with her two children searching for change or bottles as they walked the roadside to give them $20. Their stunned expressions morphed to joy, showing the visible difference in their thinking about the world being so unkind.
Since when did not acknowledging human suffering become popular? Since when did not acknowledging the pain of processing suffering, whatever the form, become okay? Is there a social revolution occurring out there that I am unaware of to turn us all into unthinking, unfeeling machines like those binary tools we use daily to “communicate” with?
Where I live, it is called negation, dismissive and devaluation. Not to mention blaming and emotional abandonment.
Why not just ask why? Or, is there anything I can do to help? Is it because then, you may actually have to help instead of sit by and watch others suffer while pointing the finger at them and completely overlooking the three fingers pointing back at the self?
My motto for life is when in doubt, err on the side of kindness. If kindness fails, there is not a lot more one can do. But if you know you exercised kindness, you did all you could. Not acknowledging others is a form of cruelty in motion. This is the kind of ignorance that polarizes and escalates divisiveness, bifurcating entire peoples who might otherwise have been one nation in heart if not in mind.
When on the receiving end of such callousness, the nothing you already felt like begins to feel like less than nothing that never mattered in any way to any person on the planet. The black void. Thanks for the ticket in to all those who choose to ignore over extending human kindness. THAT is a choice, feeling what you feel after enduring harsh experiences is not. If you looked into it, I’m sure there are families and individuals still daily mourning their losses and the horror of 911. Did they choose to be there and lose their loved ones that way? Oh, why am I even asking such an asinine question… Here, this is better: how does one get out of depths so deep they hold you in their grip daily so that even in those moments when you forgot for one brief second that person is no longer in your world and found yourself laughing, the loss returns with tears you cannot stay? I call it the opposite of the Christmas feeling where you wake up every day and remember you have this lovely new gift for a while. For a while, sometimes a long while after shock and trauma, it has been my experience and observation that the opposite of the Christmas feeling can haunt with an unrelenting vengeance. A wise woman once said to me, “The scars never go away but they do soften with time.”
Asking a person in this state What did you do to bring this on yourself is akin to giving them another emotional kick when they are already down. Now there’s a statement that needs a whole lot of examination or rather, the cold heart uttering it. Nothing like blaming the victim/survivor… Do those types honestly believe that anyone would consciously choose death, loss or abuse? Did the Jews choose it? Did slaves choose it? Do rape victims choose it? If they chose it and brought it all on themselves, then why are we all still so against all of these violations of humanity? If a friend emotionally violates, rapes and abuses you, is that really okay? Well none of it is okay with me. My first words to anyone in any of these situations would be, “It is a miracle that you walk among us, still. You did not deserve that. No one does.”
You can say “look on the bright side” all you want to someone who cannot. Their depths of despair may be so enveloping, they cannot even get the flap open to see anything else never mind hear a word you say.
I am not saying that one should be “indulged” ad nauseam. Years ago I read a book about a native tribal way of dealing with problems. For lack of accurate memory here, I’ll call it the Sister Circle.
If you had a problem, you could bring it to the circle where you sat in the middle while the women sat in a circle around you and listened. And that is all. The first time.
The second time you brought the same problem, they sat in a circle and offered their advice.
If you brought the same problem to the Sister Circle a third time, they sat still sat in a circle around you. In silence with their backs to you.
I’m not saying every problem can be solved in three sittings. What I am saying is that if you don’t even hear the person or acknowledge them and expect them not to feel that rejection, think again. While understanding others may not be possible because you have never rowed in their canoe, hearing them is not difficult at all. A stony heart gathers no love. A stoic heart, even the most stoic as in Braveheart (a movie I re-watched this past weekend), needs loving kindness. Especially when life tosses them lemons and they can’t even remember what it is people do with lemons.
May your inner kindness shine in all lives you touch today.
I read about a man who once said in his mind all day long, “Dear Everybody, I love you.”
Try it. It works for me. Dear Everybody, I love you.