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  • Writer's pictureKara Kihm

Shhhhh Suffer In Your Silence

“It is by sharing ourselves that we gain the wisdom of many lifetimes.” LisaEdwards

In college I remember calling a close family member who I dearly love to share about my life stress.... The person on the other end of the line paused for a moment and then replied.......Don’t you know what’s happening in XYZ......(This conversation was so long ago that I don’t remember the details, but some horrific tragedy was happening in a jungle somewhere in South America)......I paused in silence thinking.....That is horrible! My pain must not matter! My pain must not be real! My pain is nothing compared to these people! I shouldn’t be struggling......Yet here I was experiencing deep pain. 

Thankfully years later Brene Brown shared her own wisdom.......

“Comparative suffering is a race to misery where some people believe they inherently win (I hurt more than anyone could possibly understand) or don’t deserve to be in the marathon at all (I’m embarrassed that I’m upset, because worse things happen to other people). It hinges on the false belief that empathy is finite. Fortunately, the opposite is true—empathy is not only infinite, it is renewable. The more empathy we infuse into our relationships, organizations, and culture, the more there is to go around.” 

Growing up I don’t remember any empathy. The message conveyed was......Suffer In Your Silence....and this message was deeply embedded in my belief system...... I can’t remember how many times I was told of family members who greatly suffered and struggled, but never once complained. “To suffer is Christ like” I was told....So I learned to suffer in my silence and I did so beautifully until the pain became so unbearable that I literally felt suicidal. 

I felt as though I could spontaneously combust in my pain at any moment and there was no where to go for relief. No one to get help from. No one to share with. My life wasn’t that bad and I needed to be a good quiet girl who smiled while she suffered. So I became that girl and I smiled as I suffered. Yet inside I was wretched and just wanted to die. 

I believe that people who leave this world due to suicide aren’t sharing their pain or receiving the support that they need for their pain. They like many are.... Suffering In Silence......It's no wonder when suicide happens, the world responds with shock. Had we known their inner workings, I venture to guess we would not be shocked one bit. 

Yesterday during acupuncture I began crying due to a recent loss......As I cried I realized that I still smile as I suffer. With that realization, I began sobbing uncontrollably. As I sobbed my eyes became puffy and red and snot dripped from my nose onto my sweatshirt. I felt as though all of the pain inside that I just smiled away for decades was coming to the surface. It felt as though all of my pain that was covered up by laugher was flowing out of me. I realized how deeply entrenched my pain has been with no release. No outlet....I left the session with my eyes almost swollen shut from a very cathartic release. 

We can prolong grief! We can prolong sadness! We can prolong emotional pain! We can distract it away, drink it away, work it away and smile it away. But what’s under the surface will eventually emerge. 

What if we took a different path? What if we shared ourselves and our pain? What if we made the vulnerable scary move to open up and be transparent in our suffering? What if we were met with validation, compassion, love, and people to hold space for our pain and our journey? What if as Brene Brown shares the more empathy we bring into our relationships, the more there is to go around. 

You do not have to suffer in your silence. It is truly by sharing ourselves that we gain the wisdom of many life times!

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