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The Hardest Part Isn’t the Struggle. It’s How Upset People Get That They Can’t Magically Fix It.

·473 words·3 mins

My life these days is pretty good. Stable. I’m happy more days than I am not. But it hasn’t always been this way. I’ve written about it from time to time, but the short version is that I experienced a number of traumas as a young person and as a result had a l ong, not-always-pretty road to recovery.

I have a good support system these days. I’m married to a hot person who was literally my best friend before we dated (yes, really). Have a number of interesting friends scattered across the country. Have had the opportunity to date some other neat folks that I’m still close to, even if we’re not dating-dating anymore.

But this wasn’t always the case. And I can remember back when I was struggling that it was made harder by the people in my life. To be frank, I not only had to struggle but to also hide the fact that I was struggling. Because people would give very quick input/advice like the following:

“Have you tried smiling more?”

“Look on the bright side.”

“It’s been a year. Aren’t you over it already?”

“I’m not them, so I don’t think it’s fair that I have to see your cry over something they did.”

And so on and so on.

None of this was helpful. But it was their best efforts at the time. And accordingly, they’d get very upset with me when these words didn’t immediately fix my struggles. They’d take it very personally.

And so not only was I trying to keep myself from falling completely apart, I was doing my best to not offend the people in my life, who took it very personally that I was still struggling with difficult emotions..

I learned to cry in secret. Project a very positive image that distracted from the difficult work I was doing in private. It was brutal work that even now, I do not completely understand how I did. But I did. And I will be forever grateful to that former version of myself who made it work.

It Happens in Miniature These Days

These days I do have trusted confidantes. People who are supportive and warm. Who don’t offer platitudes that don’t actually help. And most importantly, folks that don’t take offense if I’m not rendered instantly cheerful by a brief chat we might have, when there’s something heavy on my mind.

But does it ever happen? Sure. I find it happens in miniature these days. It happens when I post about a struggle outside of my immediate inner circle — the people I trust-trust. It’s then, in casual online settings, when folks will jump in with their platitudes and their quick fixes.

I suppose the nice thing about online is that they can’t see your face when you read what they wrote.


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