Marcy wonders why she feels so strongly and deeply when other people just seem to shrug off emotional wounds. “What’s the matter with me? Am I just weak-willed or stupid,” she asks, as though she can’t imagine a third option.
Most of us have no trouble acknowledging that we are different physically (I’m tall, you’re short) and mentally (I love math, you hate it!). Yet, we often expect our emotional reactions to be the same (Get over it already; I went through the same loss and it only took me a week to get back on my feet.)
Well good for you. But have some empathy please! There will be time when feelings flood and overwhelm one person in ways they might not do for others with different genes and different life experiences. It takes longer for some of us to have our feelings ebb and subside when life throws us a curve ball.
When life deals you such a blow, you are in shock. “It’s not supposed to be this way,” you wail. “How could this have happened? Someone, please someone wake me from this horrific nightmare and tell me it’s all a dream.” But no one does.
It’s impossible to imagine that just a short time ago, everything was fine. But that was before. This is after.
Shock, bewilderment and confusion take up residence in your brain. You didn’t anticipate anything like this. How can you possibly cope with the loss? All you want to do is crawl into bed and put the covers over your head.
You may despair, feeling that you can’t go on. There’s so much to deal with. You’re overwhelmed. You’re exhausted. You’re depressed. No, depression is for people who have a gray cloud over their head. This is beyond depression; this is despair.
And yet, each day is different. One day, emptiness and loneliness reign. The next day, anger and resentment run the show. Yet, another day, melancholy crushes whatever nascent get-up-and-go-spirit you had. On your worst days, you realize that nothing, absolutely nothing, halts the ache in your heart. Nothing soothes the fear in your soul. Nothing drives your sadness away. So much has been lost.
On your better days, you somehow empower yourself to make the next hour better than the one before, even if it’s in the slightest, most incremental way. At times, you have a glimmer of hope that a better hour might morph into a better day. And a better day might morph into a better life.
Though there are many moments in which you want to give up, you sense that another part of you is growing in strength. One day, you may connect with compassionate friends; another day you cannot bear to be with anybody. One day, you simply cannot get out of bed; another day, you keep yourself busy with whatever needs to be done. One day, you hunger for drugs to numb you; another day you want to suffer the pain. There is no right course; there is no proper path.
Right now, hope seems to reside in another galaxy. Yet, one day hope will return to your soul, guiding you on how to best live a new life. Until hope returns, let others who are caring and supportive be a source of comfort as you give yourself time to heal.
"Figure out who you are in this world and what you need to feel good alone. Find a sense of self because with that, you can do most anything else." ~ Angelina Jolie
Copyright © 2015: Linda Sapadin, Ph.D
is a psychologist and personal coach in private practice who specializes in helping people enrich their lives, enhance their relationships and overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior. For more information about her work, contact her by email
or visit her website at PsychWisdom