I’m amazed at support some days. It is easy to “act” like you care, but when you care in a human way, it is a much different experience. I know people mean well when they offer support for mental health, child sexual abuse, and other issues, but sometimes they fall short.
The other day I shared something that had triggered me. It was painful. I had not thought about it in years, but an old photograph surfaced. When I saw it, the picture reminded me of the last time my older brother molested me. The night before his wedding. There was other stuff too, but that’s for another blog post. It was a painful moment.
When I shared it, I should have known that the responses I would get via email were not going to be good. All of a sudden, it felt like everyone had to fix me and alleviate the pain. I did not share it for this reason.
Care And Support.
The reason I shared it is because I wanted others to know that they aren’t alone in this. I also wanted to be able to say the words rather than hold them in. Both of these things were very important to me, but yet I felt like I was being stopped by others who could not handle the pain.
When someone shares their pain, they don’t need to be told to think happy or positive thoughts. They don’t need to be told to just get over it. Sometimes sitting with the pain and voicing it is more healing. Maybe that’s not what all these people meant with their advice, but some days I wonder if the pain inflicted by support and care is not worse than going through it.
I’m there walking with you.
Sometimes just voicing pain is a way of saying, I’m dealing with it. To do anything else is numbing. Maybe that doesn’t apply to everyone, but if we are going to care for and support others, then one size does not fit all. You can’t insert pain into the token slot and get the same answer. Care and support need to be more than that. It needs to say, I’m there walking with you, not trying to tell you how you should feel. After all, you’re not walking in their shoes.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is listen and acknowledge their pain, then let them know they aren’t alone. Your job in care and support isn’t to try and fix it for them. It is to help them have the space to find a fix that works for them. It is about holding the space. All too often we go in and meddle where we don’t belong.
Don’t inflict your pain upon others.
When I hear things like I did on this experience, it just makes me want to bury the pain further and never bring it up. I understand that far too many haven’t healed their own pain, but please don’t inflict that upon others. You may think you are helping, but you are causing more harm than good.
Hold the space and listen to someone who needs it. Offer support and maybe a flashlight to help them see their path, but let them find their way.