I finally made it to counseling last week. I was telling my counselor how I essentially fall off my rocker if I go too long between therapy sessions and she said that I am not the only one with that experience. She said that she likes to think of counseling as a dock that allows us to comfortably float in open waters.
We’re all out floating on the sea or lake or ocean- or whatever body of water has a dock in it- and inevitably we will start running out of fuel. We need somewhere to land where the gas is plenty and the ground is solid. Enter the dock. Which is counseling for those who aren’t following this analogy that I’m very poorly explaining.
We make our way back to the dock- ideally before our tank of gas is empty- refuel with emotional acknowledgement and thought processing and coping mechanisms and then we’re ready to go back out into the open waters with enough stamina and supplies to keep us afloat.
Now, that is basically a full circle analogy to what I was already thinking counseling did for me and my brain. It was validating to hear that a therapist’s experience with how counseling is beneficial is exactly how I find counseling to be helpful.
So it’s not just me.
And I’m not alone.
And I think ultimately that’s the goal of everything that I put out into this space. To let all y’all know that you aren’t the only one. We are in this together.
Because our humanity connects us.
At first I think that sentiment can be hurtful. Especially when we are going through hard times and we are sure that we are going through the worst thing anyone has ever gone through. And when someone comes up to us and says,
“Yea me too. I’m going through that thing too. But it’s worse. And here’s how it’s worse.”
That opens up all the flood gates of emotion. We feel guilty that our smaller thing is impacting us bigger than their big thing. We feel ashamed that we shared our hard thing with someone going through a harder thing. We feel alone because we aren’t able to cope with whatever life is throwing at us when clearly there are worse things happening to other people who seem to be coping better.
And then we tell ourselves that our thing doesn’t matter. It’s not worth falling apart over. And we bury it down deep inside of some pitch black- “it doesn’t matter” -bottom of our stomach- pit and we keep our pain pushed so far down that it is hidden. Which only makes it grow because darkness begets darkness and the only thing that can breach the dark is light. But we are too ashamed to shed light on our hard thing so it festers. And as it festers we continue to tell ourselves that it doesn’t hurt as much as the thing is saying it hurts so we don’t try to heal from it. We keep our pain inside not realizing how it is infiltrating every aspect of our lives and breaking us from the inside out.
Damn. That might’ve been dark. My bad.
But I do have a point.
I want to challenge this idea that suffering is a competition. That there are better awful things and worse awful things. That we can only be struggling if we are going through whatever we have deemed to be worse awful things and anything less than awful should not be impacting us.
I’m not sure who out there is making the lists of better awful, worse awful, horrific awful, and the continued spectrum of awful…
Actually you know who is making the lists? Fucking social media.
Our brains are flooded with stories of ultimate tragedies that don’t even compare to our minimal struggles. We are constantly inundated in our scrolls with how it could be worse or how we should be grateful for what we have because our hard isn’t that hard compared to all the other trauma in the world. And maybe there is some truth to that. Maybe we should focus more on what we have going for us than that going against us. But that fine line is a tricky little bitch to balance and I think the whole point is that we shouldn’t be comparing.
I came across a quote a few years ago that plays on repeat in my head when I start to think my pain isn’t worthy of processing.
“Trauma is trauma. Someone who drowns in 7 inches of water is just as dead as someone who drowns in 20 feet of water.”
Again, slightly dark but it drives the point home.
People who don’t feel their feelings or process their grief, however seemingly insignificant to the rest of the world’s problems, end up being souls lost at sea. Drowning in open waters. Lacking a place to refuel and find rest.
Ah, see I brought it back to my initial analogy.
They are people who end up being angry because they are hurting and they are being told they aren’t hurting badly enough to warrant pain. And they become inconsiderate individuals who lack compassion and empathy because, well if their pain doesn’t matter, then why should anyone else’s?
And instead of trying to heal ourselves, which we could do, we try to heal a whole wide world, which we can’t do.
So I guess what I want to impart on this hashtag Mental Health Monday is this:
It matters. Whatever it is. However big or small, in comparison to whatever bullshit you see in your news feed, it matters if it is hurting you.
Because you matter.
I want us all to consider this: that which hurts us, it fucking hurts, man. Don’t go trying to heal a broken world before you’ve healed your inner one. Acknowledge what you are feeling. Grieve when you feel loss. Cry when you feel pain. Celebrate when you feel joy.
We must allow ourselves to feel the entirety of the human experience. And we must give ourselves permission to respond to those feelings. In a healthy way, obviously. And this is where you say what the GIF says:
And maybe, just maybe, then we will live in a world that is filled with less hurting people and more healing people. I’ll leave you with another quote since I’m a quote person,
“hurting people hurt people.”
So maybe, just maybe, the opposite is true.
Maybe healing people, heal people.
And maybe that ripples out to something bigger than online debates and social media commentary. Maybe it actually changes the world one healing person at a time.