To my younger self and to help you now…
The most dangerous fact about toxicity is that most toxic people do not even realize they are hurting those around them. There are degrees of toxicity, of course – but when you look past that, you realize that, indeed, the road to Hell is very frequently paved with good intentions. Or, at least, paved with what seem to be good intentions.
If you have ever been literally hurt by someone’s seemingly simple “smile more” or “you should be over him by now,” you know exactly what I mean. Even when these things come from the people you love most, they can still generate an avalanche of negativity.
HOW is anyone supposed to smile more if their brain finds it a torment to simply wake up in the morning?
And HOW has anyone calculated the amount of time needed to get over someone? How can you even assign a mathematical value to such a delicate, emotional matter?
It’s not up to you, my family, or my friends to tell me how to heal – and I am saying this without the smallest trace of malice or passive-aggressiveness.
Here’s why I am saying this:
You’re Not Really Helping.
Look, you may or may not have the best intentions under the sun. But simply telling me to just heal is not really helping.
I know I have to heal. I know I have to move past my trauma. I know all these things. The theory of how to move past sadness, grief, trauma, or simply depression is all out there. I know how to Google.
I also don’t have a button to turn off all of this and just turn on happiness. I might be able to smile, but beyond the smile, there’s a deep-sea of blackness that cannot be simply shut down.
When you tell me to just be OK, to just forget, to smile more, you are basically assuming I want to be here, in this pool of darkness. You are assuming I am just moping around, when, in fact, I am struggling against quicksand. And I am doing it every single day of my life.
From the moment I wake up to the moment I go back to sleep, every second of my life is a fight against the darkness. So, no, you are not allowed to tell me that I should just be fine and that whatever has happened is now in the past.
I know these things. I tell them to myself every single morning as I look in the mirror, partially happy I am one millisecond closer to being healed, partially still bitter, still sad, still struggling to make it through the storm.
You may have the best intentions in the world, but you should not assume I am not even trying. I am much happier with a friend ready to simply listen, smile, and nod, rather than a friend who pushes me to “get over it.”
You do not have the duty to give me a recovery plan, and you do not have the duty to nudge me into healing. The only thing I do expect of you as a friend is to be there, to hug me when I need it, to listen when I need it, to take me out and take my mind off of it when I need it. And I’m quite happy to return the same support as well.
I’m Not Playdough.
I know you have read a lot about all of this and how healing should be done, I have done it too. I spent countless nights trying to find the one recipe that will cure me of this pain.
The thing is, I am not playdough. You are not playdough. Nobody is. We cannot be stretched and squashed into molds that were not meant for us.
As such, whatever advice you might find out there may or may not work. And nobody can give me a secret list of magic ingredients and quantities to apply on the wound and have it disappear in two weeks, one month, or one year. Nobody can ever find a one-size-fits-all solution to healing.
All the advice you might have found and all the advice I have personally read and reread means nothing when you force it to stand face to face with the monster inside people who are actually going through it. Through pain. Trauma. Recovery. Healing.
If it were all as easy as they make it seem on WikiHow, there would be no depression, no anxiety, no trauma survivors still having nightmares about something that happened years or even decades ago. Nobody would live in abuse, emotional insufficiency, and darkness.
And yet, the World Health Organisation has stated that there are more than 264 million people in the world who suffer from depression. And it is believed that nearly two-thirds of adults have experienced some sort of trauma during their lifetime.
It takes time, patience, consistency, and determination to move away from the darkness. Sadly, though, there’s no universal checklist anyone can follow. I got through this and so can you.
Which brings me to…
It MUST Come from Inside.
Reading and journaling about all the things you can do to help yourself heal are definitely great for you. However, it is also important to:
● Take everything with a pinch of salt
● Allow yourself to try as many methods as possible
● Know when to determine that something is not working for you
Healing your soul, your spirit, your broken emotions, and your self-respect can never be an external nudge. No matter how much you love me, all of this has to come from the inside. It is futile to believe anything else.
When healing and positive changes don’t come from the inside, they become a chore. They become the source of pain itself. They blend into your trauma and your sadness and become one with them. Instead of working against your issues, they start becoming the issue.
When healing and positive changes do come from the inside, however, the entire paradigm shifts. You are not looking at a list of things you must do any longer, but at a list of things you want to do because they make you feel good.
Healing is not a one-time treatment, but a lifelong journey. As a friend, I would love to have you by my side on this journey, but I do understand if I might get difficult, odd, and downright annoying at times. Bear with me. I am in the process of becoming the best version of myself and of healing my wounds the best way I can, I promise.
You should not push me into solutions that have nothing to do with this life-bringing energy that I am trying to use to fuel my heart so that it overflows my entire being one day.
There’s a world of cures and treatments for pretty much any kind of pain there is. But if they are not connected to my inner being and the thirst for life I am trying to preserve on a day-to-day basis, they won’t work.
No matter who you are, my friend, my relative, my significant other, or a stranger who might want to help someone in need, please remember this: it is not up to you to tell me how to heal.
It is not your responsibility, nor should it ever be – precisely because this entire healing process I have been going through belongs to me, my own emotions, and my own journey from darkness to the light.
It is not up to you to tell me how to heal when to heal, or whether or not I should have done it already. It is not your duty, nor is it something I would ever expect of you. In fact, I pretty much expect the exact opposite: I needed you to support me through my steps forward, through my stumbles, through my falls. I needed you to be there with me.
It is not up to you to tell me how to heal. You don’t have the right to do this and you should never be charged with such a powerful, painful, and complex process that has nothing to do with you but has everything to do with me and where I come from.
It is not up to you to tell me how to heal. It was up to you to love me while I was on this journey.