A few days ago, I posted an article about how we compare our ‘behind-the-scenes’ to other people’s ‘highlight reel’. In extension to the heart-on-my-sleeve thoughts expressed there, I’d like to explore personal expectations a little bit more.
I’ve been going for counselling recently, and it’s uncovered a lot of grief that I hadn’t processed properly. There were a few particularly significant losses – the suicide of a friend (she was 21), the death of my Godfather, and the death of my Grandfather. These were three of the most special people in my life, but I had totally unrealistic expectations of how I was meant to react, and deal with the grief.
In summary, my reasoning allowed for a teeny window of reaction time, in which I was allowed to act in any way I desired thank-you-very-much, but it was soon about acting strong for others and reminding myself that I’m not the only one feeling loss. They were much-loved people and many would miss them as much – or more – than I did.
So on went my just-soldier-on hat, and life continued. When grief hit, whether it be a small moment of nostalgia, or an overwhelming feeling of emptiness, I told myself to get my sh*t together, ’cause I should be over it by now.
Like I said, totally unrealistic.
I’d lost people that meant the world to me, that I loved, would always have a place in my heart, and I looked up to more than an eight-year-old looks up to their big brother.
“Of course you feel this way! Your lifeline… your anchor… was gone, and you had to deal with these losses at such a young age. That’s a lot of loss for one person; too much for one person.”
This took me by surprise. I thought we would look immediately at how to process these (which in retrospect, is what we were doing) and feel better, but the first thing I really had to do was validate my grief. I didn’t have to act strong for anyone – I needed to feel the pain of loss, and I was beating myself up for feeling the way that anyone feels when they lose a special someone.
Have there been events or losses in your life that you decided to just solider on through? Or perhaps did not allow quite enough time to process? How have you learnt to validate your emotions, and not burden yourself with unrealistic expectations?