“Stop feeling sorry for yourself!”
I used to hear this one a lot as a child.
I’m sure my mother was told the same thing herself.
And her mother before that.
Better to just move on.
Don’t expect sympathy.
And you certainly shouldn’t cry.
That would mean you’re weak.
And the weak don’t survive long.
It was a “coping strategy” passed down through generations of women who had endured so much.
And they survived.
But they did not thrive.
Because how could they?
When you silence the inner child, when you don’t acknowledge her pain or allow her to turn towards it with compassion and understanding, she learns to deny it. To cover it up with distraction devises – more drugs, more alcohol, more abuse inflicted on the self, more than anything.
“Stop feeling sorry for yourself.”
Another way of saying “Stop Crying!”
Because when you cry, I get uncomfortable. I have to face the pain that you are in. I have to consider my role in that. And I can’t bear any more shame.
Like the obedient child I was, I didn’t do it. I didn’t feel sorry for myself.
If I dared talk about the past, I was told it was self-centered. I was being dramatic.
That little girl. Silenced again.
I covered her up with hard work, success and approval seeking.
Until one day I said fuck this.
And I wrote her stories.
And those stories were a window into her world. A world I had forgotten because I was so busy NOT feeling sorry for myself.
I felt her sadness, her desperation, the loneliness.
And I cried with her. And I cried for her.
I told her it was okay.
And then the voice in my head that said “stop feeling sorry for yourself” just dissolved. And just like that, I put it down. I stopped carrying the burden of this “coping strategy” into the next generation.
And now this is what I say to myself and what I hear myself saying to my children:
You can cry, my love. You can cry. And I will be right here with you.