Over the last several months I have talked with several people that can label themselves as “someone else’s horror story”. When someone else even thinks about empathizing with them, they say ‘I couldn’t even imagine’ or ‘I wouldn’t be able to keep moving forward’. Your child has a disease that is not curable, your little baby has cancer in their belly, you found out you or your partner needs to have major (life threatening) surgery, your house caught fire and you lost everything, your baby died. All really traumatic events. All things that other people have nightmares about. But what do you do with that?
“I am your horror story”
In talking with people going through these terrible situations, I feel there is some therapeutic value to pointing that out. You are having this terrible thing happen to you. Other people can’t empathize with you because they can’t put themselves in your shoes. You are dealing with this. You are surviving. Hell, you are getting out of bed everyday – most likely just because you have to – but you are.
You are a survivor. At the moment it doesn’t feel like it. At the moment you can’t even remember what day it is or how long the laundry had been sitting in the washer. But you are doing it. Everyday.
“You are their horror story”
So now what. Do you talk to people about this situation or avoid it at all costs because you don’t want the look of fear? Do you avoid because you don’t want to have that awkward pause where the person is thinking of the worst response ever to your life?
My personal thought, is you tell them. And watch them squirm – and then inform them that the only appropriate response is “that sucks, I don’t even know what to say”.
You want to feel normal. You want to feel like everything will be ok. And eventually, it will. That’s how our brains work with trauma (if we work through it, rather than ignore it). Eventually, this situation will seem like a lifetime ago. Eventually, you will find a new normal and keep plugging along. Eventually, when the pain hurts so much you can barely breathe, you will think “Wow, I haven’t felt that in a while”.
No matter where you are in your grief process, know that it does get better. And know there is a tribe of others just like you – you are not alone.
“We are their horror story”
Take care of yourself – and each other.