Say, “I can’t take care of you today, but you can take care of me, and maybe tomorrow I will take care of you, and we can trade off like that for a while, okay?”
Say, “I love you, and I love that you think I’m strong, but I don’t feel like being strong today. I feel like being angry and crazy and sad. Can we go to the movies or just sit here quietly or take a walk or talk about it or not talk about it?“
Your friends may get scared when you do this. If you, the “strong” one can break, what does that say about them? That’s why they push back at you and try to remind you of your strength, when what you need is for them to stand by you in your pain and weakness. They don’t have to solve that pain, they just have to bear witness to it. Maybe they don’t know how – a lot of people don’t know what to do in the face of other people’s pain. They want to fix everything, and if they can’t fix it they feel inadequate. As the “strong” one you can help them out with this by saying “You don’t have to fix it. You don’t have to do anything. Just be with me, and listen, and love me, and I’ll love you back. That’s all I need – to know that you love me, even when I’m sad and scared and don’t know what to do next.”
We’ve been taught how to believe our own lies. We’ve been taught that we can’t even trust our own emotions, and we’ve been taught how to leave them completely unexamined. So when we finally do speak, we’re venturing into the unknown, onto uncharted land. We are expressing emotion that we will probably take back and reassert as something else. We are putting words to experiences that we have never had vocabulary for. We are trying to express things there are no words for.
For non-survivors talking to survivors: limited vocabulary « Speaking when the world sleeps (I’m not sure if this needs a trigger warning and if it does, what it would be)
This is how I felt today. Sad for no reasons, but sad for many reasons.
I can simultaneously be angry with white supremacy and love white people. I can be in love with a white woman and hate her ignorance at her own white privilege. I can get so frustrated with racism that I barely want to be around any white people, and I can share that with my white friends over a few drinks.
You might think that’s confusing. You might even call it hypocrisy. I call it being a person of color.