The other day, a fellow leader in another department told me that she was being told to “take the high road” instead of working candidly through some key issues. As she and I spoke, I pointed out that direction to “take the high road” is just an avoidance tactic. After all, the high road avoids the valley in between where the tough terrain exists.
Why am I talking about this and how does it pertain to you?
Sometimes people are thrown off by how comfortably I can talk about the abusive upbringing I experienced.
It’s so common for humans to avoid – at all costs – uncomfortable truths. Which is natural. Some avoid triggering conversations, some get uncomfortable when someone else shares their own story, others tell people to “take the high road”.
The reasons I can comfortably and forthrightly talk about what I experienced growing up is that:
1) Investment in emotional work
- I worked intentionally with trained professionals (counsellors, coaches, spiritual services) for years while I also did all the hard emotional work required to heal.
- Healing does not mean that you don’t remember. Healing does not mean that you expect service providers or friends to carry your burden for you.
- It means you DO remember, but the traumas you experienced no longer hold any power over you.
- There is a difference between comfortably talking about hard truths and rehashing traumas that still hold sway over you.
2) Honest, hard truths reduce stigma
- I firmly believe in speaking honestly about my story, because we must collectively remove the stigma.
- Remaining silent about trauma only perpetuates the stigma. If you went through trauma, IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT and the shame is NOT yours to bear.
- But that doesn’t mean you can misuse friends or lovers as counsellors. Sure, you can share your story with them, but notice the difference between asking them to carry your burden, versus simply engaging honestly while you do your OWN emotional work.
- Regardless of whether you had the most loving, safe upbringing ever, or the opposite, we ALL have emotional work and growth to do.
Here’s what I suggest
If someone in any way invalidates what you have been through, gets uncomfortable when you talk about hard truths that you have experienced, or tells you to take the high road, try this:
1) Remind yourself that they are telling you something about themselves (even if they don’t realize it).
2) Keep doing all the healing and emotional work with trained professionals (DO NOT use friends or lovers as counselling service providers – trauma healing requires trained professionals). And then do the work.
One day, it won’t bother you when someone invalidates you (even unintentionally) out of their own discomfort. Remember, some people have genuinely never encountered someone with evil behaviour. That’s okay. One day their comments won’t bother you, because you’ll look back and see exactly how you came to this place of healed empowerment, and you’ll see with broader perspective.
For all the empaths out there who are struggling with this, whatever your story is, know that your story can be beautiful. Now is the time to create those next chapters for yourself.
Blessings and empowerment to you.