There is no question, that staying positive is a preferable posture in which to face life overall. I do my level best to put an upbeat spin on, any of the storms that come my way. However… sometimes I just dont have it in me. I am simply depleted. It is those moments, those positive internet memes on my social media pages, become nothing more than shallow platitudes to me. Even the ones I love the most, seem trite at best. Rather than finding inspiration to get going again, they amplify what I am unable to do at the time, which for me, heaps guilt on my already deteriorating situation. While I know in my heart that are intended to encourage, they end up magnifying my dark mood. Suddenly they seem to mock from the sidelines, instead of motivate.
For too many years, in too many ways, I have held my chin up when I should have simply lowered my head & accepted the sadness I was feeling right then & there. Pushing away, is not the same as pushing through. It becomes a denial of what I am really feeling. A short cut, in the long run, that does not honor the full extent of my humanness. As if having a bad day or week, or even season…means I have abandoned my overall cheery attitude and I am setting up a permanent camp.
As children, when words are not yet available to us as a form of expression. We cry. We cry when we are hurting, or scared, or tired or hungry or simply need to be held. It is our 1st response when we are uncomfortable. Comfort comes when someone older & wiser is able to hear us & responds to our cries, by attending to our needs whether physical, or emotional. Something most adults freely do. It is when our cries go unheard, the yelling begins.
I was born into a culture, where the prevailing thought was to just let us cry, to build strength to our lungs, was what my Mum was taught by those in the know. So I have had to find ways to self soothe. And while this too can be a tremendously positive life skill. It comes at the cost of feeling ignored and abandoned by those we look to, to meet our most basic human needs, when we are too young to care for ourselves.
As we develop, unmet needs become needless holes in our spirits within. Over time, the message is reinforced when we are expected to suck it up & shut up…lest the neighbors hear! Thus expanding that core feeling, that no one really cares. And that we are innately unlovable. Not worthy of simple acts of love & kindness.
Far too many of us will turn to drugs & alcohol, as a means of self soothing, in an attempt to drown out that voice within, that echos our erroneous lack of human worth.
While most of us pass into adulthood with personal victories that whittle away at our unworthiness, we still come up lacking when the storms of life are to big to bear alone. Once in awhile, we just need help, to feel steady again, and we subconsciously look to those around us to know we are in distress. Only now, we don’t cry. We scream & lash out at those unable to read our minds. Often as those we love the most.
For those of us who have chosen unhealthy ways to self soothe, we aggravate an already uncomfortable situation. We cut ourselves off from the most intuitive among us, who are able to recognize our need for comfort. We bite at the arms that would be willing feed our souls through their loving embrace. Creating more problems than the ones at hand.
As we mature, and give up our counterproductive comforting techniques, we find ourselves left with a back log of hurts. Navigating the pain of unmet needs, can be overwhelming to fragile humans who have yet to find a way to meet them in a constructive manner. At the first sign of trouble, it is all too common, for us to resort to our old pacifiers.
Overtime, our need to survive ourselves, gives way to new mechanisms of handling our storms. For me. It has boiled down to screaming less, and crying more. Science & Therapists recognize the release of toxic waste either way. One clearly less damaging to those around us, than the other.
Anger is a secondary emotion, not a primary one. While it might seem that a primal yell is a way of release, unless it is followed by tears, it just adds fuel to our fires. And often is met with cold resistence from those around us, that are unprepared, or unequipped, to cope with such verbal violence themselves. Instead of one human in distress, the flames have set a fire to everyone with in earshot.
At 55, having given up most of my unhealthy self-soothing techniques, although I have yet to master more productive ways of getting through my darker days. But the awareness is there, and I am willing to learn through trial & error. Oh and trying on different ideas I read, on those above mentioned memes. After a good cry of course~
(Art by Rachel Spitzer Firliet)