You’re not alone. (I mean, probably.)
When something triggers emotions that I find extra hard to cope with when they’re potent, like shame, helplessness, or feeling small or when depression symptoms start to show, my mean–y’all she is vicious!–inner self comes out and lets me know without hesitation, “You’re alone. When things get dark, you’re alone.”
Does that ever happen to you?
I’m not going to go into the details, but I had an experience that triggered such feelings recently. Eventually and reluctantly I tried to talk to my husband about it. I say reluctantly because sometimes saying the bad stuff I’m feeling out loud is hard.
He was in a distracted mood and while, yes, he should have been paying closer attention when I started opening up, he didn’t realize I was about to get into wonky brain feelings (which he has grown quite good at helping me through, if I can just brag for a second). Something else came to his attention and he abruptly changed the topic.
Now, at the time I wasn’t in my normal state of mind where I could analyze the situation more rationally to conclude he hadn’t picked up on where my monologue was going or to speak up and tell him how that made me feel. In my wonky state I’m not my normal sensitive self. I’m an HYPERsensitive, alert to the slightest scent of rejection, version of myself. (It’s not my favorite.)
So, all already fragile me felt at the time was wounded. She immediately experienced a desperate need to retreat far away into herself. My inner mean self told me, “See, you’re alone. You’re always alone. You have to do everything yourself when things gets dark. Always will.”
She’s dramatic, I know. But I already warned you my wonky self is that way. And to be honest, it took me a while to reach the conclusion she was wrong.
When I got up the next morning and began to face my emotions and what led up to them, I realized this: Sometimes people we are close to hurt us. Sometimes they’re busy or distracted when we want them to help us stop the bleeding. But if we have the right people in our lives, 95% of the time they are there for us–and fiercely so, I might add–especially if we let them know the degree to which we are hurting.
The yucky part about being vulnerable is occasionally we get stung (and sometimes we sting without even knowing it). Whenever that happens, it hurts. It hurts real damn bad. It can feel unbearable.
Unfortunately though, that comes with the territory of the blessing it is to let our inner selves be taken care of by others. But, see, the wonderful part of being vulnerable is being welcomed into a warm hug and the right words from a loved one. It can nurse us back to a stronger, healthier state of mind. In fact, I experienced such healing the next day when I brought my wounds to Evan much less subtly.
And that’s why one of the worst things we can do when we get stung is to call it quits, lock the gate, and swear to not let ourselves anywhere near the potential of that pain again. We miss out on how powerful love can be.
I’m prone to those extreme feelings, clearly, when my brain is wonky. But I’m learning and relearning that we don’t, generally speaking, have to be alone.
It’s often times a choice we make to try to protect ourselves from the pain of putting ourselves out there and potentially going home empty handed and ashamed. It’s a choice that actually leaves us much worse off than a sting or two every now and then might do.
(I might even argue a sting can make us stronger in some situations, but that’sa topic for another day.)
If we really want to self-preserve, we have to force ourselves to NOT be alone. It’s the only way out of many a dark brain jungle. It’s a scary hassle, I know, but it appears to be the only way. So, my frieds… be brave, get cuddled, be brave, get stung, be brave, get stronger. I think it will be worth it.