My marriage is ending, the writing is on the wall and I’m lost. I feel like my insides are crumbling and I don’t deserve to live. I’m a failure. An adulterer. An addict. An abuser. I’m in a deep, deep well and it’s cold and dark, the stone walls are slimy and there’s one, tiny speck of light so far away that it’s barely bright enough to see. What do I do?
– Signed, No Hope
Dear No Hope:
Don’t worry, everything will be alright.
Why do people respond this way? Why do people jump months, if not years, down the road to the result that they, from their own experience, know to be true: There’s a healthier outcome on the horizon. They are compelled to fast-track us to the finish line but, in their best intentions, fall short.
When they act from this place of prediction, they’re denying us our experience. They are invalidating the pain that we feel first hand. Why?
In witnessing our pain, their past experiences are awakened. They begin to relive those agonizing experiences from their own lives. Their empathy goes into overdrive and they distance themselves from our circumstances out of self-preservation.
They say “don’t worry” because that is what THEY need to hear. They need to remind themselves that they ARE okay. They DID figure it out. The ground beneath their feet is rock solid. They survived.
Lost, tortured, weak, lonely, shattered and scared people need something different than “Everthing will be okay.” They need to hear that they have it within themselves to start the long climb up those slippery walls. They need to quiet the negative self-talk that is haunting them. They need to trust their own ability to discover their definition of peace.
~ Thanks to Lisa Arends for her provocative post on her blog.