By Christy Gualtieri
Have you ever swallowed a pill that was so big and so awkward that it hurt going down, and maybe even hurt your insides for a while afterward? Or eaten a taco chip that had an unfortunate point on one end that you swore scraped your entire esophagus going down? I’ve felt like that recently, but not physically – emotionally. Maybe you have too: you’ve gotten bad news from work, or had to handle a situation with a family member that hurt for much longer after the conversation has ended.
How do we heal? How do we keep going?
There is some truth to the fact that time can work wonders. Simply removing ourselves from a bad relationship or a social media addiction can make a difference, for example. And it’s very tempting to just keep plowing through things like nothing’s happened at all, but I know, speaking from experience, that it just won’t work.
I know what not to do when faced with a hurtful situation: nothing. Because whatever is hurting you will never turn into nothing; it’ll keep growing inside of you, nearly consuming you, until it gets what it wants: acknowledgement.
I think a lot of times people just want to be seen. Not everyone, of course (I know many shy people who would prefer to have very minimal contact with anyone if they didn’t have to), but I think, shy or not, we want to be seen. Known, even if just to a few people. Acknowledged.
A brief story about that: a number of years ago I worked at a large coffee chain, and every now and again the staff would be charged with holding coffee tastings. We’d set out samples of coffee and stand behind a table, and hand out coupons for drinks people might be interested in. Although it had to do with coffee, and most customers were there to drink coffee, there were a lot of people who did not want anything to do with the tastings and samples. Many people would walk right past us as we smiled at them and said hello, and, to be perfectly honest with you, it was a bit hurtful. Some folks would go out of their way to not have to talk to us; some people would ignore us; some people wouldn’t make eye contact, just plain willing us to not speak to them.
Life can look very different when people go out of their way to avoid you. But just as it can look negatively, it can be such a positive thing when people see you, when they return your smile, and when they actually look at your face instead of right past where you are.
And it’s the same with healing the problems that we carry within us. Even just acknowledging them, giving them a name, does a great service: it tells us that we’re aware, that we’re working toward fixing it, whatever that fix would look like. It may be a visit to the doctor, a phone call to an estranged family member, a session with a therapist. Acknowledging your problem is having an awareness that things might not look how you want them to, but it’s a step forward.
And sometimes, just that one little step might be all you need to keep you moving into a peaceful place of healing. If you’re struggling today, know that I see you! And I hope that you find what you need to be well.
Until next time,
Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and son, blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com, and tweets @agapeflower117. Follow PghPsych on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates, inspirational quotes, articles, and different events and causes related to good mental health.