It seems like so many people believe being strong is about shaking things off, ignoring things as if they don’t bother you, not showing negative feelings & the like. This can be extremely discouraging to hear when you have survived abuse, because you’ve always been told to be quiet, don’t tell people what happened to you, don’t be a baby- that wasn’t a big deal & similar things. Once you realize you’ve been abused, you want to start to talk about it, & to express your feelings for the first time. Yet, people make you feel as if you’re weak for being that way. I believe those people are absolutely WRONG.
Sweeping things under the rug & ignoring your feelings aren’t strength. In fact, I find them to be very weak. It doesn’t take any courage at all to ignore something or to stuff your feelings inside, just a desire to do so.
Facing things, however, that takes strength & courage. It isn’t easy to face painful things! It hurts! But, the good part is it dealing with things loosens their painful grip on you. Ignoring those painful things, however, means you will feel pain for as long as you refuse to deal with them. Better to suffer for a short time than indefinitely!
Feeling your feelings takes a great deal more strength than ignoring them. I grew up ignoring my feelings. I knew they had no value to those around me, so I figured they must have no value- why share them with anyone? As a result, even to this day sometimes I have trouble expressing them out of fear of being mocked or invalidated. Even writing things in this blog scares me quite often for those reasons. It takes great courage to be willing to be vulnerable, especially in a society where people condemn any feelings other than happiness. I’ve learned that I feel much more peaceful when I can share my feelings instead of hiding them, even if it’s only writing about them in my journal. Feelings demand to be expressed, the good & the bad ones. Holding them in makes you miserable, & can lead to all kinds of health problems- high blood pressure, kidney or heart disease, arthritis & more.
If you’ve survived abuse, please don’t let dysfunctional people tell you that being strong means stifling your negative feelings or pretending the abuse didn’t happen! You have every right to feel how you feel & to acknowledge the abuse! If you’re already doing these things, then please be proud of yourself! You are brave & strong! Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise! Many people who try to silence others don’t have the courage to face their own emotions & painful pasts- don’t let them drag you down to where they are! Instead, hope that by you being so brave, you will inspire them to find their own courage.