My mother always tells me that when I was a little girl, I almost never cried.
As I’m typing this, I’m surrounded by the familiar scene of my dimly lit room with complete silence all around me. It’s night time, and I haven’t even had dinner yet. But the thought of three-year-old Chia tripping over something, as she falls down on the floor on all fours, and immediately stands up without even a flinch or the slightest hint of a tear, bothers me.
And trust me, according to my mom, that was something that occurred a lot when I was little. I can’t imagine how, even as a child, I would just lightly brush the hurt off and completely act so nonchalantly about it.
It took me a while before I even had the ability to recognize pain when it was standing in front of me.
One thing I noticed about myself a few years ago, was that whenever I was confronted by a certain circumstance that I know would inflict so much pain to my current situation, I’d simply shut down. I would look at it right back in the face, but would never regard its presence nor try to fight back. I’d say hello and turn away from it, never fully recognizing it for what it was.
This would then create a snowball effect which I’m not even entirely conscious of, most of the time. Things would start to go downhill, and I’d simply try to brush it off and pretend like everything is going perfectly fine. Call it passive, if you will.
Finally, I realized what this kind of pain would bring to me and why I’ve always chosen to ignore it: anxiety.
I didn’t have anxiety until the year 2016, I never even knew I had the possibility of developing it. It all started in my second year of college and stress just really got to me at the time, that I had to be rushed to the emergency room four times that year because of consistent anxiety attacks.
Ever since, my way of handling conflicts completely changed. A whole 360 turn. I didn’t feel like myself at all, I felt angry and confused, what has changed in me? This is not me.
And all the while I was trying to ignore great pains due to anxiety, I’d find myself crying at the faintest of reasons—accidentally folding the edge of my book, dropping my phone, missing a day of writing on my journal… cramps. Ironic, isn’t it?
However, in the past year, I have learned to not suppress pain and just accept it when it wants to intervene. Now, I try to stand tall against it and really acknowledge what it’s trying to tell me; what it’s trying to teach me. But it’s not always easy, and it doesn’t take away the fact that I still have to keep reminding myself this: anxiety shouldn’t hinder you from being a better person. Because sometimes it creeps back in, but I know I’m determined to not let it win.
Only then when we really try to accept pain, will we learn to forgive ourselves for the things we both have and possibly haven’t even done, that probably caused this immense hurting in the first place.
Once I learned to inhabit this mindset, I’ve had better control over my anxiety, thus making room for personal growth. Although, I am not claiming that this will work for everyone, but because I’ve tried it and it did work for me, I just thought I’d mention it.
So, I guess, it all boils down to this. Pain. Acceptance. Forgiveness. And eventually, self-growth will come into the picture.
Maybe three-year-old Chia can learn something from this; that it’s okay to trip over something and fall down on all fours—and then take a moment to cry. Embrace the pain, sometimes there’s a certain lesson that comes with it.