Disappointment comes with the package of trauma, but one of the harder disappointments is accepting that people will let you down- even those you thought wouldn’t.
When asked if I lost friends to cancer, I always said that I made the choice of isolating myself. When things got bad- I got private, and refused to let anyone see how sad and vulnerable I was. I was lucky enough to have people who refused to let me go through my cancer alone. They fought their way through my walls, and stuck by my side. While their unconditional love strengthened our relationship, it also showed me how hard it is to support someone through trauma. There are many reasons why you feel you aren’t getting the support that you need, but it’s never because you are not loved. Here’s a few explanations to why you face disappointment.
They are on a different page in their lives.
While I was dealing with cancer, my friends were finishing off their first year of university. While they were out partying, I was getting chemo. We were just on completely different pages in our lives, and our priorities were not the same. That isn’t anyone’s fault. Everyone’s got their own day-to-day life to live and baggage to carry; yours just might have thrown you off course for a little while. So while you’re dealing with your plate of s***, it may seem like they’re onto the next course, and thus, we drift apart.
Not in a bad way. If you’re like me, you tend to bottle your emotions. Sometimes people around us can be oblivious to how bad things are because we do our best to suppress this around them. While there is turmoil building inside us, they think that you are managing pretty well, because this is what they see from you when you are around them.
Sometimes when people have this image of us, it makes it even harder for us to express our feelings, because you don’t want to replace their image of a strong person with someone that is “weak.” Worse, they may not take you too seriously because they have this “strong” image of you, and think that you’ll be just fine. Find a few people that you are more willing to share your vulnerability with. You are not entitled to let everyone in just to keep them around.
Lack of Experience and Understanding
Even if you see yourself as a good communicator, sometimes people just don’t plain understand. That’s fine, not everyone is meant to. They may not have experience dealing with trauma or supporting someone through a traumatic life change. They may believe that respecting your space and privacy is what you need right now. They may not have enough personal experience to understand that sometimes, people need a little push to get the support that they need.
This also ties into the first point. For example, cancer is a pretty obvious issue, and some of the issues or concerns should have been a given. But then again, they are not in my position to understand what I was struggling with, especially if I didn’t talk about it.
Some people are only capable of providing sympathy. Right now, you you need empathy. Empathy requires us to connect with something deep within ourselves – connect with our own pain in order to understand the pain of another.
Lastly, sometimes people think using tough love is the only logical solution to fix your problems; this again is a lack of understanding, and is never your problem, but theirs. I am guilty for this as well. Going through cancer and developing anxiety and depression, I now understand how ineffective tough love can be. But I didn’t fully understand this before dealing with these issues myself.
They may not know you well enough.
Your friends and loved ones may not know you well enough to understand how you deal with stress. People have this perception of me as a private person who handles herself pretty well, which is mostly true. Meanwhile, during that point in my life, I was completely losing my mind. The people who knew me well enough knew that I have a tendency to keep things personal, but they also know that if they push me (softly), I will eventually spill it out when I need to. I mean it’s a given, I’m in a crappy situation, I’m definitely not happy.
You need people who understand you without you necessarily writing a script for them. Even then you will face disappointment, but the people who love you wont give up on you, and they’ll keep trying over and over to get it right. If you’re not getting the support you need, it’s not because you are not loved, it’s because you are not adequately understood.
It may be too personal for them
Some people may avoid you entirely because you irritate a wound that is just too fresh for them. They may be too burdened with their struggles to help you with yours. If you feel that you are being treated unfairly or being ignored, 90% of the time, the person/people in mind has baggage of their own. That’s okay, you do too, and they may not be in the best position to help you.
The people who you believe have the potential to understand how you feel may be lost as to how they can help. They may face anxiety trying to come up with a valid response to your situation. They may be scared to make things worse, or are attempting to treat you “normally” so as to not treat you differently. They may even worry that talking about your issues will make you uncomfortable, or worse, worry that their help is not wanted. Know that you are loved, but being a supporter can be tricky too.
You are loved
If you’re going through a traumatic or troublesome time, chances are you are not your usual self. That person you once where, that person everyone is used to, just isn’t there right now. That can be tough for everyone to adjust to. Traumatic life experiences put every one in a limbo. Your emotions are changing daily, as with your needs. It takes time for you to adjust to this all, and likewise your supporters.
Unfortunately, you will lose friends, you will be disappointed, and you will be misunderstood, but you are loved, always. While you may lose some people, you will build stronger bonds with existing friends, family, and loved ones.
I hope this helps you to understand some of the reasons behind your disappointment. Keep your eyes open for Accept Help: A Guide to Letting People In, where I’ll talk about the difficulty in breaking down your walls and exposing your vulnerability. Spoiler alert: even your number one fans can disappoint you. But support is crucial to your well-being, and it’s always there. You just need to find it, and let it in.
Until next time,
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