When I didn’t own my pain. When I wasn’t able to say, “I’m hurting”. And when my pain got bigger than my ability to work through it…I ended up offloading it. And guess where it landed?....yep, right there on the people closest to me.
There was a season in life where my pain felt too big to carry, and too scary to own- so I offloaded it....on random service workers with snarky comments, on fellow drivers with…ummm…shall we say, aggressive sign language, and sadly on co-workers by becoming a "negative about everything" energy vampire!!! But worst of all- I was offloading on the man in the trenches alongside me, my husband. In a strange dysfunctional sort of way- he felt safe to offload on because he loved me. And offload I did...anger, annoyance, criticism, resentment...it all came rolling out on him. It's sick...but often that's how it goes. It's our partners, our kids, our safe people that get our pain.
So why am I telling you this?... because it's something we ALL do. Whether we recognize it or not, admit it or not….if you’re not owing your pain, feeling it, working through it in healthy ways– then you’re likely offloading it in some form or fashion. And it's likely landing on the people and places you least want it to. But here’s the things I want you to know…the things I didn’t know when I was caught in the cycle... It’s not your fault, but It IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY, and It doesn’t have to be this way.
It’s not your fault...your brain works that way.
Here’s how the dumb damaging cycle works. You have shit…it so big, and hurts so bad, that you don’t know what do with it. Or maybe you’re ashamed to admit it, afraid to talk about it, so you sit on it. But It feels like more than you can bare. So your survival brain kicks in and says….”Get rid of this shit before it kills us”. Your brain starts looking for places and faces to pin your pain to. So you do, without even really wanting to, then because you really are a decent person, you end up feeling ashamed and awful for being an ass, which creates even more pain that you then need to offload. You see how this goes…It’s a destructive cycle where NO ONE WINS and you STAY STUCK in pain.
For me, I was too afraid to admit that I was so damn scared, confused, lost and deeply sad- because I believed a lie that said people couldn’t handle my truth, my pain would be a burden, and that it was my job to make everyone else comfortable. Also I'll be honest (were friends here, right?), I was ashamed and afraid of the judgment that would come if others discovered that I din't have my sh*t together- ( ha-that one actually makes me laugh now). But also, I just didn’t know what to do with feelings that scary and that hard. So I tried to silence and stuff it all behind a forced smile, but instead it came out as anger.
It is your responsibility.
What I learned is that feelings don’t stay quiet even when we try to silence them. They are truth tellers and they will always find a way to speak their truth. In some ways it’s kind’a their job to keep pushing us toward our truth….”you want to pretend like you’re not sad or scared…ok here’s some anger to get your attention.” Truthfully – if my pain had not continued to come out as anger, turning me into a terrible & bitter version of me that I didn’t want to be- I may still be sitting in it. Thankfully it woke me up to who I had become, and to the truth that, pain or no pain, at the end of the day....I am responsible for who I am in this world. So although we can’t help what our brain wants to do with our pain, we are responsible to sit up, pay attention, and learn a better way.
A better way.
Sister – If this is you, and you’re offloading your pain, it doesn’t mean you’re a terrible person. It means you have pain you’re not dealing with, at least not in a healthy way. It means you need better tools, and a better way. It starts by sitting up and listening to what your pain is telling you.
For me it was saying…”Stop hiding, stop making yourself responsible for keeping others comfortable, stop hustling for your worth, it’s time to learn how to show up and allow yourself to be seen as the messy, hurting, fully human person that you are. It’s time to learn that you are enough…just like this.”
So I sought out the people, places, practices, support and tools to help me do just that. For me that was therapy, a Soul Restoration Retreat, Brene Brown course work, codependency recovery, connection with like minded women, and more. Along the way I've learned to give myself permission to hurt, to own it – to say, “I’m hurting”, and to ask for what I need. And bonus- not only do I like myself better, but I’m happy to say so does my husband. Truth be told, I’m not sure how much longer our marriage could've sustained being the dumping ground for my pain…(which is another blog for another time).
But for now I will say, nothing is perfect and I still catch myself offloading at times – but now I know what it means and what I can do instead. I can stop and listen to it. I can turn inward and ask myself, “What am I not allowing myself to feel?”, “What hurt am I not owning?”, and “What do I need to do to take care of myself?”.
Beautiful hurting Sister, you can do the same. And it all starts with permission…permission to hurt, permission to say, “I’m hurting”, and permission to ask for what you need when you are hurting. If I could leave you with only one thing, it would be this....Allow yourself to be a messy, hurting, don't have it all together, fully human person who owns her shit, speaks her truth, and asks for what she needs. So go ahead - write yourself that permission slip...because as scary as it seems, that's where it all starts to get better.
Big Love –