Last month my family received (for the second time) shocking news of a horrific accident involving an immediate family member. One is never prepared on how to feel, what to do and how to react. Most people publicly show sympathy, empathy and grieve outwardly. It is just as important to grieve as it is to mourn. With that being said, it is even more crucial to deal with these circumstances head on verses holding it all in until you explode with emotion at the most inopportune time.
If you are similar to me, my way of showing is a bit more complicated with a hint of detachment. My mind heads in the direction of compartmentalization when first processing this type of news in order to create a plan or strategy to “fix” while maintaining a strong facade.
My analytical psyche starts to think of all of the possible surrounding responsibilities, issues and functions that I can act on to repair or mitigate due to feeling helpless in the current situation. Taking charge and leadership over “processes” helps me to feel as if I am contributing, but in a detached manner. (This mindset became second nature to me ever since the age of 14 – when I left my home to relocate to a foster home. Having to grow up quickly in an outside setting coupled with facing difficult life decisions as a teen has contributed to my present coping skills.)
In regards to the accident, my mind took two weeks before I experienced an emotional breakdown which unfortunately happened while I was at work. Luckily, my office was empty and I was saved from embarrassment of having to publicly display my ugly cry face complete with hyperventilating. Suppression was a huge factor in my delay of emoting and it hit me all at once like a ton of bricks.
It was not pretty. It happened in the midst of a phone call where I completely broke down in uncontrollable sobbing for at least a minute straight. Thankfully the person on the other end was kind and reacted with compassion and concern. After I finally got my shit together, I was able to semi save face, call back and finish out my phone conversation.
My first mistake was choosing not to emote as I continued my daily routine – removed. My internal struggle was fear of having someone see me appear as “weak” when I am perceived as the strong one within my friend circles and family. Holding onto that perception with a tight grip skewed my view on myself to maintain a strong, stoic position when faced with extremely emotional situations affecting me or people close to me.
My second mistake was to hold all of my friends and family to enormously high expectations in the ability to mind read my needs and then become equally frustrated and angry when my needs weren’t being met. It was a double-edged sword type of situation – one couldn’t help if they tried and those that tried didn’t help. I was angry at the world mostly due to frustration at not being able to magically fix my family member or turn back time to prevent the accident from happening. #angerdisplacment
For that I am sorry. I am sorry for lashing out/pushing people away/blowing people off. I’ve felt like a crazy person for the past month, but have come to realize that I am neither a superhuman nor a fucking robot! Being strong can only go so far and we all have our tipping point and well…we all know what happens next. FREAK OUT!
A few helpful suggestions to try prior to losing your shit on the daily:
- Talk to someone, soonish – in depth
- Grieve/mourn – appropriately & honestly
- Let out your emotions – freedom!
Live and learn and be kind to yourself. You are not alone in this process.