Happy February L.B.K.K readers!
Today I want to share on something that a lot of us probably shy away from. I did say from the very beginning that transparency will be a key part of the content I share, and it seems that most of my posts so far hold true to this. I believe in transparency because too many of us suffer in silence feeling like the only one who struggles in certain areas. I share on things that I have been through and learnt from because I know that even one person will benefit from my testimonies. Transparency has the ability to set people free. If you’ve gone through something similar before and wish you knew this back then, there is no condemnation! We’ll both know better for the future. If you’ve never experienced something like this before, consider yourself blessed to learn this lesson ahead of time!
I have been going through a very difficult time of transition. I’ve experienced back to back disappointments, more than what the average individual should have to experience (at least in my opinion 🤷). To be very transparent, my confidence overall suffered because of the trauma. Now… I know that most people associate trauma with something extravagant. But I want to clarify what trauma is and how it can look in reality before I move ahead.
Trauma is not always caused by the obvious catastrophic events that we are most aware of, like a car accident or severe injury. Even though these are traumatic events, these are not the only forms of trauma. Trauma is a result of any event or experience that hurts you physically or emotionally. We often don’t pay much attention to the emotional part. With this in mind, we can experience trauma when a relationship ends, and by extension disappointment, abandonment or rejection of any kind. Emotional trauma can be sneaky because it appears as things that “should not be that big of a deal” to the average person. That is a terrible mistake I know that I have made 🤦. Saying things like “this should not affect me so much” or “why do I feel so aweful about something so simple?” are clues that may indicate that you probably experienced something traumatic but society keeps telling us to get over it, and quickly! I know I’ve heard statements like “it could have been worse” or “there are so many other people in the world who are worse off than you are”. Let me pause right here and let’s take a deep breath in… and out… I need you to listen to me very careful.
Do not allow anyone to dictate how you should feel about anything that you have experienced. “They” didn’t experience it, you did!
We are all different and we all react to the same things in different ways. Something that maybe I am able to “brush off” and move on happily from might completely destroy you emotionally or vice versa. If it’s one thing that I have learnt over the last few years, it’s that it makes no sense to compare my life and experiences with anyone else because our experiences will never be the same. There may be similarities but they are certainly NOT the same.
I said all this to give some background before diving into what I want to share with you today. I started talking about my confidence being affected due to trauma. Now that we have a better understanding of the different ways that trauma can occur, I trust that we can move on with an open mind.
Due to the back to back disappointments and delays in my personal timeline, I found myself in a dark place. I was depressed. I know that “D” word is scary… but it’s a reality that most people don’t even want to acknowledge much less talk about. I was suffering from depressive symptoms which clouded my mind and affected me in ways that I was not even aware of.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that it’s story time lol. So, let’s get into it.
One weekend while at home, some family stopped by my parents house to visit. I was present though distracted as I was multitasking doing my own thing. I did greet my family as they came in the house but immediately went back to business as usual. They were all having conversation while I was in my own little world. In the moment, I didn’t think anything of it as everyone was occupied. Fast forward to later that night, I received some very distressing news that my family who stopped by earlier that day felt I treated them badly, I didn’t acknowledge their presence and they felt unwelcomed by me. This news shocked me to my core because I distinctly remembered greeting them as they came in and also, I’m not the type of person who would do such a thing. I was distracted taking care of my own business but I was never intentionally rude to anyone.
As I was trying to clear up this obvious misunderstanding, my father made an important observation. He said that though they, my parents, knew that I was otherwise mentally and emotionally preoccupied, our visitors were not aware of my situation or what I was dealing with in that moment. This statement was true. It prompted me to reflect and I immediately became more self-aware. I know for a fact that my face can look really serious when I’m in deep thought or otherwise distracted. My forehead gets all wrinkled and my eyebrows follow along… but in that moment, I was not aware of how that may come across to other people on the outside.
If you know me, then you know that this affected me very deeply. Up until that point, I thought my family knew me well enough to know that I would never do anything to intentionally hurt or offend them. Especially since it had never happened before. I felt so bad. I immediately called both individuals who came by earlier that day and this was when I found out that though one saw, heard and acknowledged my greeting, the other did not and so felt completely ignored. I went on to clarify all the misunderstanding and apologized for the way I made them feel, though it was not intentional.
Even though I apologized and everything was resolved, I still felt so terrible for the rest of that night and even the following day. Self-condemnation started to creep in… something I hadn’t experienced in a while. It took me back to many years before when I suffered from chronic self-condemnation. I just did not have language for it back then, but I distinctly remembered the feeling. This was when it hit me that, wow… maybe I am depressed right now. I genuinely reflected on the observation my father made for the next few days and I made a conscious effort to be more self-aware. It was my attempt to try to see myself from the point of view of those around me. I started to notice how disconnected my mind was from daily tasks I performed, forgetting to do the simplest things and not realizing until seconds to minutes after. I could feel myself frowning and how tense I was, though I wasn’t doing it on purpose. It was eye opening and quite frightening to say the least. But the gift was making the effort to be self-aware, regardless of how I felt, and make the necessary adjustments.
As a Believer, all of this made me feel like a poor representation of Christ. This was a part of the self-condemnation. Unfortunately, mental health is not openly discussed in most settings, Some even believe that Christians should not experience mental health challenges, which is definitely NOT true. In general, as people, I do not believe that we extend enough, if any, grace at all to people who suffer in this way. We tell them to snap out of it, that they don’t have enough faith or even label them as crazy and send them off to a mental institution. I believe that we can do better, dig deeper and educate ourselves more in the area of mental health.
This is the lesson that I want us both to learn today and moving forward, using this specific incident, from both my perspective and loved ones on the receiving end.
From my perspective:
Let’s work on being more self-aware. Not only for ourselves but for the sake of those around us. We may feel horrible on the inside but for the sake of our loved ones, what can we do? I’m not saying that we should ignore how we feel and pretend everything is okay when it’s not. We can however, make an effort to communicate with our loved ones in advance and let them know how we are feeling. Let them know that, even though we might seem a little distracted or distant, we love them, they have done nothing wrong, we are not upset. We are just having a difficult day and need some time to recover. This could help us avoid a lot of misunderstandings and unnecessary drama as a result.
For loved ones on the receiving end:
Let us extend some grace and love when our loved ones seem “off”. Often times we take things so personally but most of the time, the actions of others and what we observe are a reflection of their own internal battles, not because of how they feel about us personally. This is especially the case if their behaviour seems out of character. For example, my family knew that I would never intentionally hurt or offend them yet, their immediate response was offence. If we know that the person does not usually behave in a certain way, just take a moment to pause and consider that something may be going on that we are not aware of. How we respond can either help them recover or hurt them even further.
The main point I want us to get is that we all have a role to play and a responsibility, regardless of which side we may fall. One day you may be the one having a hard day and the next day you could be the one on the receiving end of someone else having a hard day. Either way, let’s commit to being more self-aware and also aim to extend the same grace and love to others that we would like to receive in return.
Love & Blessings,
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