Besties. Soul mates. Kindred spirits. Neighbors. Bros. “Framilies.” Whatever you call them, having a solid support systems is an important part of life. Especially when we hit those days that feel much harder and heavier. Whether it’s a co-worker with a casserole, a sister with a hug, a neighbor willing to give you a ride, or a good friend with some time to talk, these are the kinds of people who meet us where we are in whatever we’re feeling and keep us company until we’re ready to take a few steps forward.
Having time to be in our feelings an important part of healing and as uncomfortable as it can be it can eventually lead to a clearer sense of direction when it’s time to get up and grow. And it’s during this time of stillness that we can sort of feel like an open wound, super-sensitive to the world, like we have thinner skin or less of a filter.
When those around us see us in this position they may feel uncomfortable too. With the best of intentions members of our beloved support systems may offer up words that feel shallow and hope that feels like a lie. Maybe you have experienced this before: you share some of the pain you are feeling and a friend replies back with the ever helpful “Well, everything in life happens for a reason!” It’s like they’ve skipped to the ending of the story. Like, maybe if you THINK about how this could be part of some plan, you’ll FEEL better. But that isn’t how feeling or healing works.
These messages, like…
Life doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle.
It must not have been meant to be.
Time heals all wounds.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!
When life hands you lemons…
shared out of someone’s own pain of seeing us in such hurt, add to a few less-than-healthy ideas, like…
1) Pain, sadness, anger should be avoided at all costs.
2) P/S/A are bad. Bad, bad, bad!
3) P/S/A are signs of weakness (and that is BAD!)
4) P/S/A are things we have to “get over” rather than grow through.
and 5) P/S/A are always balanced out by some kind of cosmic good.
For people who are really trying to help, these ideas certainly seem to fall under the “so not helping” category.
When we inherit messages like these we then end up spending more time dealing with the expectations of how to get over these things and the possible shame around feeling pain, sadness, or anger rather than actually experiencing our feelings. And the idea that we should avoid our pain seems to increase our fear of feeling pain when the real truth of the matter is not only can we sit in our saddness but we can grow through it.
So what are the messages YOU have heard? What has been offered up to you when you’re hurt? And how do you respond when you are a piece of the support network when someone is in pain?