For most or my life, I never realized that it was okay to feel sad. Whenever I felt sad, I was made to feel small and worthless by the toxic people I surrounded myself with, so feeling sad became something that was far from okay, something I learned to hide.
Recently, a child I am close with told me that sometimes she feels sad. Immediately, I told her, that feeling sad is completely okay. I reminded her that everyone feels sad and that you don’t ever have to pretend that you feel happy if you don’t. I reminded her that smiling can help to bring you joy, but that she never has to hide behind that smile. I hid for years and I know that hiding only creates darkness.
Although this moment may not have been as monumental for her as it was for me, it reminded me of the importance of teaching our children from a young age that it is okay to not be okay. It is also important to show them that other people often feel sad as well. There are so many people, including myself that can say they haven’t seen their parents cry much, especially not their dad. I hear it all the time – “that was the first time I ever saw my dad cry”. I grew up believing men didn’t cry, and I will admit the first time a guy cried next to me, I was extremely confused and I remember thinking that he should suck it up, be a man and stop crying. This was when I believed a lot of the stigma associated with mental illness in order to refrain from acknowledging my own struggles. Unfortunately, too many kids grow up believing the same negative thoughts about emotions and in turn, they suck it up, they man up, they don’t deal with the storm brewing within then.
But the reality is that what happens when we are young, dictates so much of what happens when we grow up. In fact, one of the first questions my therapist asked me was, “what was your childhood like”? After working through a lot of my negative thoughts in therapy, I was able to see that, I feel sad a lot, and that is okay, but that we also were going to work together to help me through those sad times.
The most important thing I realized on this journey was that it’s okay to feel sad, it’s okay to not be strong all the time. Sometimes I still forget, sometimes I still say to myself that I just need to put on my big girl pants and suck it up. But it is so important for us to remind ourselves and everyone around us, that it is okay to feel sad, we are only human, we have human emotions and the second we can embrace those emotions rather than pushing them down further into the darkness, we can find the light and we can heal.
I keep thinking about those 4 small words this child said, “Sometimes, I feel sad” and I am so proud of her for saying what she was feeling, and even though I tried my best to comfort her and let her know that it is okay to feel sad, she helped me more than she knows. I have kept reminding myself this week as I am running around juggling multiple demands that sometimes I feel sad, sometimes I feel stressed, but that is completely okay.
We can help the children around us to lead more fulfilling lives where they know it’s okay to talk openly about mental health and any issues they might be having with support around them, and they can help us to do the same as well.
I hope that whatever you are feeling today, whether that is joy or despair, that you remind yourself it is okay, and I hope you never forget, that healing is possible and you are worthy of that healing process.
Surround yourself with positive people, take a break, take time for you, be patient with yourself and remember the very valuable lesson that a child reminded me of, “Sometimes I feel sad, but that is completely okay”.
Be Beautifully Simply You