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Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: Suffering in Silent Desperation

Monday, August 27, 2012

Suffering in Silent Desperation

Often people tell me when they come to talk that they'd been thinking about coming in for a while.  Sometimes for a long while.  Not everyone who decides to open a dialogue about their life or their relationships or their psyche has been suffering emotionally, but it's more common then you'd think.

We have  great resiliency and often think that we can go it alone, or that it's not so bad, or it will get better.  And things do, often.  Time has a way of healing us and moving us along.  But it's not always enough.  Many times people wait for their relationships to really crumble, for the emotional distance between them to grow so deep and wide that it's almost impossible to bridge it.  Sometimes we wait for something to shake us up or wake us out of our reverie, or we act out in ways that are vengeful, self harming or overly dramatic in order to get our message across or relieve the frustration, monotony or pain.  And sometimes we wait until resentment and doubt have grown so big that we cannot really see our way back.  We might move past wanting understanding and resolution and want revenge, escape, or both.

Sometimes moods dive, anxiety heightens and we just don't feel well.  But we keep on keeping on thinking something's got to give.  We tolerate loneliness, fear, frustration and depression, thinking that to start talking about it won't change things.  Or at least not fast enough.  We agree with ourselves to suffer, feeling desperate, but feeling bad about feeling so lost, as if trying to address things is some sort of admission of defeat instead of an act of strength and rightness.

In some ways, we almost like our suffering.  Not when it gets too dark, or too frightening, but just before that.  There may even be something noble in it.  And people often tell me, "well, it's not like I don't have food or running water.  I should be grateful."  As if this means their pain should not exist or they are being selfish for feeling their feelings.  (Gratitude and perspective is essential to emotional wellness, of course, but it does not negate pain).

We do have a responsibility I think, to ourselves, to take care of our suffering when it heats up.  We have to be curious about why we ignore it if we are ignoring it, or what really we are waiting for before taking action to make things better.  There are many choices.  Therapy, of course, but also, friends, books, support groups, personal growth classes, marriage retreats, 12 step programs, motivational seminars, wellness programs.  We don't have to go it alone, and we don't have to keep suffering in silence.


Anonymous said...

I think when people are struggling,they can get so caught up in the idea that time heals everything, that they forget to be proactively working to make things better in times of struggle. Problems don't disappear and feelings don't always change on their own. A quote from the Dixie Chicks, "They say time heals everything, but I'm still waiting." If the person suffering is not ready to make a change, it will take a lot more time and a great deal of frustration in their healing process. Like you said, sometimes people will have great resiliency or they will wait until they are until it is almost impossible to fix their emotional distance before they decide to get help. Sometimes people dwell and build resentment toward themselves or others that they are in too deep to go it alone.

Melissa Groman, LCSW said...

Thanks Anon,
good to have your thoughts.