Jake R. Goldblum, M.S.Ed.
Warning: Discussion of physical/sexual abuse.
“I’m strong, powerful, and successful.” At least that’s what I tell myself time and time again in order to hide the fact that I really feel weak, powerless, and like a complete failure most of the time. Far too often we (I) put on facades and attempt to be what we are expected to be, in hopes that others buy that image. Many times we push back the tears and fight the pain from bubbling up to the surface because we are told that it isn’t okay for us to feel that way. Well, I’m here to say: it’s okay to not be okay.
I believe that we avoid the issue of trauma history in our personal lives, work places, and communities in a particularly unhelpful attempt to show that the things that have happened to us and others in the past doesn’t currently reflect in who we are. And in some it may not. Overall trauma is stigmatized as scary, dysfunctional, and generally taboo, but far too often do we see trauma manifest itself in behaviors that further hurt ourselves or the ones closest to us when we attempt to repress it.
I was physically and sexually abused as a child and I have absolutely been deeply affected by these experiences in my life as an adult. Not a day goes by when I don’t yearn for wholeness, or wish for normalcy. I’ve spent most of my life wondering what I did to deserve what happened to me and making excuses for the ones who did it. Before I sought help, I turned to further abusing myself and hurting those around me in an attempt to regain control in my life.
And I’m tired. I’m tired of running from the past. I’m tired of making excuses for others. I’m tired of perpetuating this cycle of hurt. I’m tired of not allowing myself to be vulnerable and to not fully love others the way they, and I, deserve to be loved. I’m tired of pretending I’m okay when I’m not.
The point of this post is to share my experiences with the hope that myself and others can begin to allow ourselves to just not be okay. Of course we need to seek help and support when we need it, but most importantly, I believe we need to allow ourselves as much time as we need to not be okay. This doesn’t mean we stop doing our work and stop helping others. On the contrary, it means we begin to help others in a more profound and meaningful way, because we have given ourselves the right to heal from the inside out. This will, hopefully, help us show others how to do the same on their own terms.