Lesson From A Photo: The Truth About Emotional Pain

taken 4/16/19

I personally believe that you can tell a lot by what you see in a picture. I took this picture a little less than  under a month ago and debated posting this on Instagram or even sharing it all because it was a really vulnerable moment for me. Who actually posts a picture of themselves crying? I know that sharing or talking about emotional pain is something that is not only hard for me (or really anyone) but it’s also not something everyone wants to see. I don’t know what my original intention of me taking this picture was (maybe it’s just my sick way of needing to see the emotions behind my eyes that I began observing in pictures over the last year), but I feel that there is a purpose in emotional pain and negative feelings.  So these are the lessons in this picture

  1. There is no time line for the carnage of emotional pain or healing Full interest of disclosure, I suffered a pretty horrific trauma a little under six months ago, and I developed post traumatic stress disorder from it. Funny enough, I thought with enough therapy, journaling, exercising, personal development books, and self-care that I would be “magically cured” by now. You would think as a mental health clinician I would know better. I thought because I had the knowledge and the tools to help others through their pain that if I did all those things, I would get through mine quicker. I was delusional. While all the therapeutic things I have done for myself have been helpful; truth is, there is no real timeline for the pain we feel or the healing process. The pain comes and goes in waves sometimes crashing hard like on this day, sometimes more softly where I will feel a slight discomfort, and some days, not at all. Healing takes time, and it takes as long as it takes.
  2. The only way to get over the pain is to go through the pain and to let yourself feel all the feels as ugly as they are. I know that this is not what any one wants to hear. No one wants to feel pain; no one wants to suffer the extreme discomfort of heart break. It is so much easier to distract yourself; it is so much easier to ignore the problem; and it is easier to numb or medicate the hurt but it’s all temporary. This picture came about of me trying to repress my negative feelings for a few days. I held it in for awhile but then I lost my shit over a really minute trigger, and often that’s how it goes. You can only distract, ignore, and numb the pain for so long, and when you are done pretending, it is still there. The only way to hurt less is to allow yourself to feel all the feelings that come with the pain. Cry when you need to cry and wallow when you need to wallow. I promise you a feeling of catharsis if you do. As much as sadness feels terrible, our negative emotions exist with purpose; feel them, process them, and grow through the pain. (Just don’t set up camp in those icky feelings and live there… another post for another day)
  3. Be gentle with yourself; you’re doing the best you can. Because I do what I do for a living, I judged myself in the healing process. I judged myself for feeling as sad as I did; I judged myself for how long I was taking to heal; and I judged myself for not moving on in the context I thought I should be moving on. Honestly, I think that’s what led to the meltdown featured in said picture. I’m my own worst enemy and I know I am not the only one who feels this way.  I think judging myself added to pain on top of the trauma but I was doing the best I could with what I had. I needed to treat my self the way I would treat a friend who was suffering. Self-compassion is key to healing from suffering
  4. Emotional pain … this too shall pass. Ironically, after I cried it out, I felt a lot better. Allowing myself to feel my hurt and watching it pass through the moment and then leave reminded me that it is all just temporary, that “this too shall pass.” Isn’t knowing this just so comforting? Healing may take time but the discomfort isn’t forever. And while I am not entirely over my trauma, I am well on my way because I allow myself to wade through the natural process of emotional pain.

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