Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Sometimes it’s very odd for me to see someone close to me, someone that doesn’t typically suffer from mental illness, seem very down. The empathetic part of me wants to do one of two things: wrap them into a blanket burrito, put on their favorite movies, and feed them ice cream, or smother them in so much love and happiness and goofiness that the sadness will be sucked out of them. Neither of these options is usually the right one.
Over the years I’ve had to learn to give space and time. When they’re ready, they’ll open up. At least with people close to me, I generally have a good idea about what’s going on, but it doesn’t help someone to force the issue or force them to talk, as much as I may think I can totally relate, sometimes it’s hard for me to realize that other people’s struggles aren’t my own, and that sometimes my trying to relate-ness is totally not what’s needed.
I’m one of those people, though, that just wants to take away everyone’s pain. I want people to be happy, even if that means that I have to be sad. I need to learn to stop doing that. I need to stop putting people, and their pain, ahead of myself.
I need to learn that other people are not more important than I am. Essentially, I need to stop lighting myself on fire to keep everyone else warm. I can be there for people when they need me, but I don’t have to be everything for everybody.
And that, my friends, is a hard lesson to learn.