When you never learned that your needs were a priority, you feel like a burden on your darkest days. There is a particular kind of excruciating, debilitating pain which cuts you deeply and bleeds everywhere when you need to be comforted, simply met with open arms instead of encountering indifference.
The feeling of vulnerability and nakedness is scary when you are a child, and needing to feel protected is truly the only criteria. You want to believe that you could bring your troubles to the adults who are raising you, but when you only find slammed doors and cold shoulders, your sense of belonging and value slowly begins to fade into the depths of your little soul. You become proficient at pushing your feelings down, holding on to your tears until you are alone, when they finally flood your face and your pillow, not just because of the transgression, but the disposable way you were made to feel. You’ll recall this feeling when you’re feeling hopeless as an adult, and this is where I remind you: you matter, you’re not a burden, and you deserve to be heard.
I encounter my suppressed feelings when I am overwhelmed, feeling backed into a corner, and all of my memories of feeling diminished coming flooding back. I convince myself to suffer in silence because history has taught me that my troubles are heavy and burdensome and not worth bothering anyone with. These are the days where no matter how many close friends I have, I still feel isolated and alone, the child version of myself who became really good at fending for herself. The more I speak to my closest friends, the more I discover they all feel some version of this. I see myself in various stages of my personal development with my close friends, and I feel so much love, empathy and compassion, and all I want to do is hug them closely. I know this is what my friends would want for me too. They would never want to know that I have impossibly hard days where I can’t tell my goings from my comings. They know the natural need to protect myself from the outside world but take solace in knowing my burdens are not too heavy, and when we share they becomes lighter.
Training myself to prioritize myself has been an internal battle. It is literally me practicing self-care by speaking up for myself AND believing that what I am saying matters, is valued and the person hearing me is receiving me with love. It is a real-life struggle to be my own advocate when I know how to advocate for others indiscriminately. However, it is inauthentic to do for others before I can do for myself. It is a dishonest way to direct people to speak for themselves when I stay silent through injustices inflicted upon me. I have to push through the practice of pushing my tears and words down when they are on the verge of my eyes and lips. I must find the same level of compassion I readily have for others for myself. I owe it to myself to be my biggest advocate, but I also owe the people who love me space and room to be there for me. I have to trust, open up and believe that my friends will be there for me in the same ways I have been there for them. How can I practice self-love and self-care if I never give my people the chance to love on me the same way I love on them?
Every day is an opportunity to take steps to heal your childhood trauma. It takes patience and practice to do something that feels counterintuitive to you. However, like anything else, a little bit every single day goes a long way. First, you have to believe you are worth every bit of compassion, patience and the right to speak freely about the pain you are experiencing. Secondly, you have to believe in the strength of your friendships, and your friends’ ability and willngness to support you in the ways they know how. Know that you can request the ways you need support with processing your emotions because, after all, we are doing this in baby steps. Keep in mind that people will show up in the way they are capable, and it’s probably best to discuss what you need when you figure it out. Your friends will find a way to be the best version of themselves for each other, because that’s what true friendship is all about.
Work on your sharing, but also work on reminding yourself that you are safe, you are in control, and your past is not happening right now. Stay present and committed to your day today. Commit to fighting for your happiness, and allow your people to lift you up — you deserve it and owe it to yourself.
You are not a burden. Your voice matters. Your needs matter. You matter.