Yesterday rocked me. Not in a “this was the best day ever” sort of way. No, yesterday I was brought to a place of self-loathing and degradation that I haven’t visited for quite a while now. It happened within a span of maybe 5 minutes, and it was a complete stranger who took me there. I had never met him before, I had absolutely no opinion of him, or need for his approval of me, or desire to impress or offend him whatsoever. So much of the time, we focus on how our need for approval from those we love and care about can affect our decisions and feelings and actions. But it is just as much a reality that the right words, or look, or lack thereof, from a person who has absolutely no previous involvement in your life can uproot deep wounds, and rip the stitches right out of a part of you that you thought was starting to heal nicely.
My initial desire was to jump on this keyboard today and blast the story of what happened to me to the world. Because, can you believe that guy??? But here’s the truth: sometimes we can get so caught up in the details of an event that we fail to really make space to process how those details have impacted us. So instead, here’s what’s on my heart. Maybe if I write it out for all of you, it will help to remind and encourage me as well.
1. YOU KNOW YOUR BODY BEST. If you are feeling pain, and someone dismisses the idea that there’s anything really wrong, please remember this: they are not you, so they are not the authority on your pain. No two injuries, whether physical or emotional, are the same. Don’t ever let anyone bully or force you into reducing your suffering to a level that makes THEM comfortable, because that decision to dismiss yourself could cause your ailment to become worse without the attention it needs and deserves, and it will cause intangible pain–in the form of second guessing yourself in the future–that far exceeds what you’re experiencing in the moment. YOU are the authority on YOU, and you should ALWAYS fight like hell to protect and care for yourself, because you’re worth it.
2. BANDAIDS DON’T FIX BULLET HOLES. Taylor Swift can preach. This statement doesn’t only holds true when addressing a former friend who’s done you wrong. It also fully applies to the level of care and love you give yourself. We are so quick to throw a bandaid on our wounds and keep on going, because any strong person would, right? But do you know what happens when a broken bone isn’t set and casted and allowed to heal properly? It’s prone to re-injury in the future…permanent, painful re-injury that is even harder to heal. So give your injury a chance to heal. Give your grief time to subside. Validate your feelings of mistrust when you’ve been mistreated. You are not a robot. You are a perfect creation of intricate, delicate, resilient pieces that should be treated with the upmost care and attention, because you’re worth it.
3. YOU DON’T HAVE TO PERFORM FOR ANYONE. Sometimes, when we’ve been suffering for what feels like forever, we notice that our pain is making those around us uncomfortable. It’s not that they don’t understand why we aren’t peppy and bright, but we’re conditioned from a young age to respond simply and positively to the question, “how are you?”. When our response is an honest, but not-so-cheerful response, it can disrupt the perceived natural order of things. So we (translation=I) tend to start acting peppy even when we’re feeling terrible, because there’s no sense in dragging the world down with us. Now, I’m not saying that there isn’t a lot of worth in thinking positively and optimistically about even the most dismal of situations. I’m a HUGE believer in not losing hope. But sometimes you’re exhausted and you need the tiny bit of energy you have left within you to work on the healing process, so you don’t need to waste that energy on entertaining others. You are allowed to have bad days, bad weeks, bad months, even bad years and it doesn’t make you less of a value to the world around you. You can and should be honest with the people who love you, and whom you love and trust, because those people, even if they are a little taken back by your admittance of struggle, will continue to love you, and you deserve to feel that love, because…can you guess? You’re worth it!
4. YOU ARE NOT WHAT SOME JERK DOCTOR WHO HAS KNOWN YOU FOR 3 MINUTES SAYS YOU ARE. Ok, that example was pretty specifically for myself. But it’s true for whoever you want to insert into the “jerk doctor” part of the sentence. There are people who have known you for years and couldn’t possibly make a judgment call on your mental or emotional stability, because you are a constantly changing, evolving, growing human being. So don’t you for a second let the flippant, rash opinion of a stranger grab a hold of your truth sensors and tell you that you’re less than. You have strengths, and weaknesses, and intelligence, and reasoning, and abilities that nobody but you has. You are exactly who you are supposed to be right now. If you seek the advice of someone about a certain struggle you are having, please weigh carefully what they know of the situation before you take their word as gold. And if you haven’t solicited their advice, and they aren’t a person who cares deeply about your personal well-being, then screw them. They do not have permission to make a judgment on any part of your character, or well-being, or physical or mental state, and you certainly do not have an obligation to respond politely or with appreciation for their unrequested garbage. You always deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, in all situations. Because, and please hear me: You. Are. Worth. It.