” What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” is nothing more than a trite saying. Often what doesn’t kill someone weakens them tremendously, and results in the development of various issues and complexes. A person may be breathing, but feel completely dead inside. One who has been through certain things may be hardened or have an air of toughness; oftentimes this is only a false armor.
Telling a friend,”Keep your chin up.” when they are broken inside minimizes their struggle, and encourages them to live dishonestly under a false shell of pride. How can a person become strong again without recognition of their weakness or fragility, support, and a game plan to improve their circumstance? How can they heal if they don’t acknowledge they’re broken?
Along the lines of the foolish cliches I’ve mentioned, lies the gag-worthy phrase about god giving battles to his toughest soldiers. Sometimes, children, extremely sensitive people, the feeble minded, and even animals face terrible undeserved battles. This world is in a constant tug of war between good and evil. The implication that god sanctioned any negative experience in a person’s life is beyond insensitive, it’s ignorant (and for the record, isn’t biblically correct).
The forces of good and evil are existent in humanity. Evident on each airing of the evening news is the fact that there are bad people who harm the innocent. There are times when these bad people use their free will to commit terrible acts. If one feels the need to put a religious spin on things, they may recognize such evil actions to be of the devil rather than telling someone their traumatic experience was divinely inspired, and therefore deserved.
Answering someone’s pain with flippant, false, and empty statements is akin to placing a band-aid over a stab wound. Often this method awakens great shame in people who are suffering, implies that even the most dire situation is somehow meant to be, fosters denial or minimization of feelings that need to be handled, and encourages people to feign strength at a time when the humilty to seek help is of great importance.
I understand this first hand. For years, I jokingly referred to myself as a “barely functioning human”; I can now say that it was never funny. Living with PTSI for twenty years has been exhausting, stressful, and at times embarrassing. I’m not a soldier, it didn’t happen for a reason, and the more I tried to function as someone without these symptoms the worse my symptoms became. PTSI isn’t an illness it’ s more an injury to one’s emotional well being related to an event or series of events. I think of PTSI as the symptoms of a bad bruise to the heart that time on its own, can’t heal. PTSI doesn’t diminish my personal strengths, worth, or intelligence. I have made positive decisions, followed intuition, and engaged in self care throughout. PTSI does at times ,however, make functioning difficult. I lost many years living in denial, only to discover adulthood would erase nothing. This was all because of shame.
I’m not sure PTSI ever goes away completely, but I do know there is help. You do not need to use psychoactive drugs, engage in sympathy seeking behavior, or to live in a victim’s mindset in order to take advantage of the support and guidance available.
Pain exists to tell us when something is wrong. Ignoring it, numbing it with drugs (legal or illegal), or putting up a front to appear strong or happy only increases shame and intensifies symptoms. I am living proof that breaking down and acknowledging pain is an essential step in personal renewal. I encourage anyone experiencing symptoms of PTSI or any ongoing emotional pain to forego the path of denial,and seek support in order to live their fullest life.