Whenever I hear my family members say or write this in response to reading one of my blogs, I realize why I write in the first place.
The line “get over it” is indicative of the environment in which I was raised – one of chronic and severe invalidation. If I had a different opinion or view of the world than my family, I was shamed and deeply criticized through invalidation. My private childhood experiences were met with erratic, inappropriate, and extreme responses. The experience of my painful emotions were completely dismissed, and I was often told to just “get over it” – just as I continue to be told today.
I actually remember one time that my 16 year old sister was so violently invalidated, that she was actually slammed into a wall by one of my aunts while my mother, grandmother, and another aunt looked on and also invalidated her after the event happened. What was the line? OH, “I don’t want you girls to sing at my funeral.” Yep. That’s the one.
That takes me to the question I want people to really think about. What does it actually mean to get over something? How do you just get over it?
Well, in a family that constantly invalidates the feelings and emotions of others, it means bury your anger deeply, deny that it happened to you, remain angry inside, don’t talk about it to anyone, and never bring it up again. Sometimes it means you act out by drinking excessively, using drugs, or lashing out at others to the point of complete alienation.
But in order to truly get over something, you need to bring those emotions to the surface, you need to feel them, face them, analyze them, feel them some more, be vulnerable, accept your emotions, and ultimately surrender them. Maybe you’ll even blog about them to help others process their own pain.
Like food, you need to digest feelings. It’s true. Let’s examine that for a minute. When you wake up in the morning, you might feel hungry. Instead of having a light breakfast of some fresh or cooked fruit, cereal, or a broth, you might have a pile of bacon, eggs, hash browns, and pancakes. If you’re eating that pile of food before 10 a.m., your digestive fire isn’t working well enough to break apart all that food. It lies stagnant in your gut, it gets sour, and it actually starts to get rotten and toxic. This toxicity can spill into your blood stream through the tight junctions of your gut, and then create loads of inflammation in your body. Inflammation creates all kinds of diseased states in the body including cancer and chronic inflammatory conditions like MS, lupus, and other not fun stuff.
Invalidation works the same way. Let’s say you get up in the morning, and you didn’t get enough sleep the night before. On your way to the bathroom to pee (and your bladder is spilling into your kidneys), you step on a piece of Lego (besides childbirth and heart attacks, likely the most painful experience known to humans), and you buckle over in pain to soothe the foot that probably has at least a 3 inch deep hole in it. Someone shouts at you, “Man up you little bitch! It’s just a Lego! Get over it!” (If you’re a man, I just emasculated you on top of invalidating your pain. If you’re a woman, I probably just offended the hell out of you.)
Wow. That really hurts. Not only did you have to get up too early, but you’re in a state of total renal congestion, just stepped on Lego, and now someone tells you to “man up.” Seriously?
Next you rub out your foot, take your morning pee, and on your drive to work, you’re totally consumed with angry thoughts about the “man up” comment. You’re unable to be present with the drive because the thoughts are consuming your conscious awareness. Someone stops short, you slam on your breaks, and now you’re mad at the driver in front of you for being an asshole driver.
Because you know it’s really your fault for not paying attention, you take the “man up” comment and you bury it. In order for you to safely drive the car, you need to focus on the road, and that means to also control your thoughts.
Because your body is in a state where it’s unable to process those emotions, it festers – just like the big breakfast too early in the morning. Your body doesn’t like anything that festers, so it stores it in your body, and often surrounds it with fat (the way the body protects itself). If you’ve ever had a broken heart, you know that love can cause physiological changes to your heart – that’s where that distress is buried. It’s actually theorized in Eastern medicine that undigested emotions and broken hearts lead to heart disease, lung problems, and breast cancer.
If you’re carrying around too much weight try this: eat your largest meal of the day at noon when your digestive fire is at its peak and call a therapist who can help you confront and healthfully digest old emotional baggage. I’m confident you’ll see the scale move in a healthier direction.
…and because I’m such a big fan of Transcendental Meditation, I highly recommend that as well!
If you saw pictures of people in my family, you’d probably see a few things in common – obesity and chronic illness. If you read any of their posts on Facebook, listened to phone conversations, or read their emails, you might also see something in common – chronic invalidation. Some of it is actually full of nastiness and hate.
So the next time one of my family members tells me to stop writing blogs because they think I need to “get over it,” maybe I need to gently label their behavior as invalidation, suggest a diet change, and about 6 months of DBT with a good therapist. Then, I’m sure they’ll be able to get over it themselves.
In the meantime, I’ll remain being over it. It takes great strength to write these blogs in the face of familial resistance. However, people like my soul sister Amina (LOVE YOU GIRL!!) and others have found these to be therapeutic because they recognize their own experiences in mine. Sometimes we need a spark to start us on our journey, and sometimes you get to travel with a great group of people who all seek the same release from this toxic, emotional baggage.
That’s why I do this. I’ll never tell you to get over it, because it’s time someone breaks the cycle. Instead, I’ll offer this:
I’m sorry that you don’t like what I’m writing. I’m sorry if it makes you relive your own experiences that you have buried. I’m sorry if this blog triggers feelings within you of anger, resentment, or your own memories of emotional pain. I know you are a strong person and have the ability to work through those issues in a healthy, positive, and functional way. However, please know that writing this blog is my mission and my duty. It’s what I have spiritually been called to do. Please respect my boundaries as an adult even though you didn’t respect them when I was a child. Know that I’m writing out of goodness and with an open heart.
With all my love,
The Guru Girl