When you’re depressed, the advice is not to dwell. Don’t keep thinking about the negative things, find the positive. The silver lining. It’s always there, you just have to see it, right?
Well, usually, yes there’s something good in every crisis. But you can’t always see it. If you’re too enveloped by shock and hurt, or you’ve been hit too hard for too long, you can’t just ‘stop thinking about it’ or ‘get over it’ or ‘move on’.
Well meaning friends who tell you that ‘your energy flows where your focus goes’ or ‘you attract what you think’ or other such Cult of Positivity ideas are not helping. You need to talk about it. You need to get it out. You need to thrash it out until it doesn’t hurt any more. As long as its trapped inside of you, it can tear a hole in you. Eat you up from the inside out.
So let it out. Talk to someone. Talk until you can talk about it without crying. Talk about it until that tight knot in your stomach isn’t wrapping and unwrapping itself around your heart. Talk about it until it doesn’t power over you anymore.
Talk about what they did, how they hurt you, how it made you feel. It’s the first step to understanding why it hurt you so much. And once you understand why, you can work on healing. To fill the hole they left. To fill it with void.
Talk if you can find someone who will listen.
I have a psychologist, an excellent one, to whom I bare my soul. He knows everything about me, the good things I do and the bad. He is an essential support. He helps me sift through my emotions, try to understand myself better, he is well educated on the currently accepted psychological theories on pretty much everything. He reframes what I am going through into a larger context and helps me put it into perspective.
He is very good at what he does.
But this is what he doesn’t do. This is what he can’t do:
He can’t make me feel loved.
He can’t make me feel like a worthwhile human being. He can’t make me feel like a good person. He can’t make me feel important in someone else’s life.
He knows me well enough to know that I get a good deal of my self esteem from helping others. I was always this way, because I could be. I had heaps of energy, and heaps left over to give. When I got sick, I lost that energy, but I didn’t lose that desire. I continued to make ‘helping others’ a central part of who I was.
But now I need help back too. I never did before, it didn’t matter.
Now, it does. And therein lies the problem. You can’t make people care back. You can’t make people give back. You can’t make them love you.
I have had a lot of what I call bad luck. Illness, surgeries gone wrong, sick kids, it has been never ending, or seemingly so. Every little crisis took a little more from me, and that deficit started to overwhelm me.
I relied on my closest friends. It took me years to get to the point where I would call on them in a crisis. Years. I don’t trust easily. I hate depending on others. But eventually, I did.
And it was good. It felt good. To know that I had a friend who I could call in a crisis and they would be there.
Except they weren’t. The day came when I called, and they didn’t come. They decided not to.
They saw everything I was posting on my page, they read the messages I sent them, and they didn’t come. They didn’t even answer. And I was devastated.
It wasn’t the thing that destroyed me, but it was the final straw. My last tenuous grip on sanity was severed when I realised they didn’t care.
It’s a very harsh wake-up call.
When you love someone, you risk getting hurt. You trust them with your heart, your feelings, your soul, and you open yourself up to being slashed and torn from the inside.
They hurt, and you bleed.
You can’t change it. You can’t make them care. You can only accept it, or walk away.
But when you end a relationship, the love doesn’t go away instantly. I wish it did. If only the hurt erased the love, and you could just move forward immediately. Wouldn’t that be great?
But it doesn’t work that way. The love stays. It demands to know why they don’t care about you, what’s wrong with you, what you did wrong. Those questions become obsessive and the simple truth (that you can’t make someone love you) is ever present and obvious, but somehow you keep punishing yourself wondering why, rather than just accepting the truth. The love keeps you hoping that it’s all a mistake, a misunderstanding, and you can work it all out, and things will go back to how they were before. It’s the barb on the hook, that you have to wrench free of if you’re ever to recover.
In time, your emotions catch up to circumstances. The love fades. The hurt heals. It forms a tough little scar and you move on.
Hopefully, you’re able to trust again, to love again. Hopefully.
But first, you have to let it bleed. Let it hurt. Then, and only then, can you let it heal. And then, finally, slowly, gently, can you let it go.