Jake showed up at the door today, in the middle of his school day lunch hour. His face pale, his skin clammy.
He struggles so much with anxiety, with all sorts of things that we can all relate to, right? It gets so big and tough that being up against this shit at the age of fifteen feels like a snowball in an avalanche.
I pointed to the futon and ordered him to sit down while I phoned the school. Enabling anxiety makes it bigger and I wasn’t going to let Jake be suffocated by it.
We talked together on the futon while we worked out a plan and he said something to me that reminded me so much of what we all say to ourselves when we’re struggling with things unseen, like anxiety and depression. I told him that he will get through this crisis and will one day be able to help other people through the same thing and he said to me, “This isn’t even a crisis, though. Nobody in my family died. I shouldn’t be like this.”
And that? RIGHT THERE is the tragedy of emotional pain. Right. There. It’s unseen. It feels invalid, like some kind of joke. It’s immeasurable.
But it’s all a death. Physical death is the ultimate separation but death shows up in all shapes and sizes throughout our lives. Did you know that in the French language, the word orgasm is referred to as “la petite mort” or “little death?” Because time has to go by before the connection can be reestablished. Or you know, crotchless chaps, a feather boa and Ray LaMontagne.
Separation, isolation, whether it’s tangible or merely a feared state is death, and it needs to be grieved. Acknowledged, and grieved. And then, and only then, can we move forward. Back to connection, back to life.
You don’t have to go through a divorce or the death of a loved one to feel the pain that comes with separation. It can happen when somebody stands us up for a date or doesn’t return our phone call or really anytime we feel like we are the only person on earth that has a zit that big or boobs that lame or whatever it is in your life that triggers shame. Shoving the pain down or lashing out at others only makes us feel worse.
Here, let me get you started:
You’re on your own with the chaps and boa though.
When is the last time you felt all alone? Like nobody else has ever felt this way?
Do you ever invalidate how you feel by comparing your life to others’ and then minimizing your own pain?
What were you like when you were 15?