“You’re so strong”
Something we constantly hear during grief. Something that’s seen as a positive ray of light. The problem however is the damage this phrase causes.
My emotional struggle in large part is generated by being so “strong”. By “coping” so well. Managing my grief by locking it in a box and tossing it to the farthest reaches of my mind. Emotions are a dalliance you don’t have time for when you’re busy being strong and resilient.
At least, that’s what my brain told me. While everyone fawned over my ability to “cope” through tragedy, I was busy building a beautiful wall to hide my emotions behind.
“I have to be strong” I would tell myself. Strong does not include feelings. Especially not feelings of sadness.
Anger is okay, anger has power. People like power.
Happy is great. People like happy. Real or forced, it matters not.
The reality is people aren’t comfortable with others emotions outside of happy. As a society we have no empathy. We want a pretty picture, not the reality. It’s uncomfortable to just sit with someone and their feelings. We’d much rather they “be strong”.
So I locked my feelings away, and I was so strong.
I’ve finally reached out and realized, other people’s discomfort with my feelings is there problem. Not mine. I don’t have to feel guilty for answering questions honestly. I don’t have to feel shame discussing my struggles. If my emotions are too much for someone else to handle, they need to deal with it themselves.
And it’s hard. So hard. Retraining your brain to allow yourself to feel. To embrace kindness and understanding and allow yourself to really feel and sit with your emotions.
But I’m doing it. And so far, it’s working out great.