"You haven’t healed, I can tell from how cruel you are.” Warsan Shire
If we don't have to hold all this heaviness forever that can mean a great deal for us. That means that how we feel, what we're holding, and how we're carrying it will not always be this way. Things aren't hopeless. While some things may be permanent, how we feel about things, about people, and about life in general rarely is. I dislike the "this too shall pass" platitude but things really can be temporary. Time does not heal all wounds but it does alter them. An alteration may be precisely what we need to make it all more manageable. That change happens over time. It happens when we're not paying attention. It's usually subtle. There are moments when we are actively enacting changes like a confirmation to apply new system settings. We're letting the underlying work that's been done to take effect.
Coping mechanisms serve a purpose. Coping mechanisms, however, are not meant to be a permanent replacement for actually addressing issues. They are a transient bandage meant to hold us together until we have the mental, physical, and/or physical capacity to do the necessary work of healing. Healing is necessary. I've written about healing previously - shared here. Healing has to happen if we want to actually remedy what we've endured. Healing is the only true salve for our lives. Healing only happens when we know how to do so. Sometimes people don't heal because they don't know who they are with peace instead of pain. What do we want the outcome of our healing to be? How can we make it happen? What self-work do we need to endure to "complete" our process?
Are we ever fully finished with our process? I know myself to always be in process. Coping mechanisms are at the very beginning of our process. They can just as easily become stalling tactics that hinder our healing when we let them run rampant. How many self-deprecating jokes, how much avoidance, how much lashing out, how much denial, etc. can we manage before we are overrun with coping. We can cope in healthful ways: meditation, prayer, exercise, mindfulness, and other forms of self-are. Coping helps us manage but when coupled with the gumption to do the substantive work of sifting through our feelings, our experiences, and our bodies we get revolutionary results.
Process through, process through, process through. That preposition means everything. Emotions are beyond stagnancy. We don't just feel things to feel them. Oftentimes what we're feeling requires explanation. Adapative emotional functioning is what professionals call it but simplified is the process of balancing both the awareness of our feelings with the regulation of those strong feelings. We need both. We have to be able to identify what we're feeling, even more critically why, and how we need to address it. Emotional irregularity works akin to what happens when our diet is less than nutritional. We get emotionally backed up, and our emotions come out in ways that we don't get control. Instead of regular flow of our own volition it's projectile vomiting in the messiest of ways. It's little leaks until a big breakdown. Breakdowns don't have to be routine. Maintaining emotional regularity is how we avoid reaching a breaking point. We should be doing periodic check-ins with ourselves. It's proactive care instead of reactive or emergency resolutions.
Through this entire experience of processing through my mom passing away I have been nearly immobilized by having to tell people to do the bare minimum of what I expect for friendship. I'm not asking for much - just the standard, check-in, ask direct questions, and share love. I am most disgruntled by feel like I'm asking for a great deal when I know inherently it's a droplet of effort in the grand scheme of things. I dislike ambiguity and questioning. I have unlearned the rationalizing away of my feelings. My therapist called it pre-apologizing in which I not only wrote but delivered sincerely thoughtful apologies to myself on behalf of others without them doing any of the work. I stopped saying "that's okay" to relieve people of harm they've caused. I'm working on not apologizing for talking about my heaviness when it's on the forefront of my mind.
I am acutely aware of the considerations of time and place, and I know that I deserve to take up space with my truth like others do, especially with me, so often. I don't have to downplay my pain to appease others. I don't have to console others for their reactions to my hardship. I don't have to cope for others by mitigating myself. Being self-aware is a massive asset but can also mean I can be too introspective for my own good. It's not too much to want people to be better friends. It's okay to have let go, and not informed people that they've been released with their acknowledgement of my loss as the basic criteria for allowance into my life. It's okay to disengage for a time, and to communicate that. Coping for me has been momentary as I've needed it with intentional time set aside to sort through my feelings soon thereafter. It has and continues to make a massive difference.
I wholeheartedly abide by my words in saying "When I care about you - I will tell you directly and intentionally. Often. Without prompting. There should be no questioning, no worrying, and no wondering about me. Life is already to disconnected. I refuse to add to the ambiguity when I have the power to give care and peace." I apply that to just articulating things I appreciate about people be it as simple as loving their haircut, or them waiting for me. I don't think we affirm people enough and that is a simple way to address our inherent yearn to set things aside or make occasions of being vulnerable. What happens when we are doing so regularly? Normalize affirmative feedback. X