By a show of hands, how many people have vented to a friend or family member and received the following response or some variation of it: “Yeah, but it could always be worse…”
Now, just for kicks, raise your other hand if you have been the one who has said that to someone in an attempt to make them feel better.
If you don’t have either one of your hands raised, you’re either lying or you and your friends are both a gift too sacred for this earth. A part of me really hopes it’s the second option.
Even I have uttered the phrase in my past, so I have both hands held high right now. Your guess is as good as mine as to how this is being written.
Cue the pity slow clap and crickets.
No, it’s fine, that was pretty bad. I only hold a moderate amount of shame for saying it, but I’m going to own it. I’m a dad joke machine.
But I digress…
I grew up in an environment where my emotions, my struggles and even my victories were invalidated. I was never smart enough, strong enough, struggling enough. I was told one too many times how my current situation pales in comparison to those without food, without shelter, without good health.
I was always told that it could always be worse, so to suck it up and move on. Looking back, I see what was happening. I was being told that my struggles weren’t valid because someone else had it worse. I was being told that I shouldn’t feel upset or angry because someone out there had a better reason to feel that way than me.
How is that okay?
I am also sometimes met with the competition response: “Oh, you’re stressed? Let me tell you about stress…” Cue the ramblings of someone looking to explain how their struggles are so much worse than yours.
Since when did having human emotions become something to compete about? Why are we striving to be the happiest, the saddest, the angriest, the most broken? What do we have to gain once we stand upon that pedestal? When you reach that summit, there’s no pot of gold, no choir of angels serenading your successes. So what are we really trying to do when we tell someone it could always be worse?
Your trauma/struggle/stress/pain/happiness/anger is valid. Period. No if’s, and’s or but’s. It doesn’t matter if someone has it better, has it worse, or has it the same as you. Your feelings are YOUR FEELINGS. Don’t ever let someone invalidate how you feel because “someone has it better/worse.”
Emotions, trauma and pain all effect us differently. What might be a 2 to you is an 8 to someone else. You don’t know their struggle, you don’t know their pain; and it is not your place to tell someone that they aren’t feeling or experiencing enough of something. Who am I to tell you that how you feel isn’t enough? How do I know?
Simply put, I don’t.
So it begs the question of when did we stop understanding that people see and experience this world in entirely different ways? I’m scared it was something we never considered to begin with.
Your reality is based on your perception of your situation and this world. No two people will see this world exactly the same, which means no one can tell you how you are feeling or what you are going through, except for you. Do not let someone with a different view on this world tell you what your world looks like or feels like.
The bottom line is no matter what you are going through, or what you are feeling, it is valid. Never let someone who hasn’t walked your path, climbed your mountains, and fought your battles tell you how you should be feeling.
If you’re sad, you be sad. If you’re angry, be angry. If you’re sick, be sick. Don’t compare yourself to others, don’t let others invalidate your struggles because they don’t understand your journey.
Just be you, and you’ll be living the best life you can.
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Lastly, we run an Emetophobia Support Group on Facebook. Emetophobia is the intense and irrational fear of throwing up, and it is one struggle we are passionately engaged in. It is a closed, by request only group to help facilitate sharing and support by all members. It is also private, meaning that the posts you and others make will not show up publicly in your newsfeed.