The most impressive thing I’ve been able to witness in my time working with patients is the experience of healing that comes from sharing a pain with one who doesn’t judge or condemn, but provides the safety and space for their feelings to exist, their story to be heard, and the compassion to join them in their sorrow. I often weep after meeting with a new patient and without fail, I absorb a little piece of their agony. In addition to sharing in my patient’s emotions, I carry an extra level of pain based on a single premise: How did we get to a place where masking emotions, identity, or trauma is the accepted standard of behavior and is often rewarded by community, commerce, family and faith?
Suppressing those parts of ourselves deemed socially unacceptable to share without repudiation or unrighteous judgement has repeatedly been shown to result in feelings of loneliness, isolation and desperation. Left untreated these feelings quickly begin to appear as physical symptoms… sleeping longer or having trouble falling asleep, lack of energy, lack of motivation, or worse. Suppressing the burdens and pain carried can result in long term health consequences including heart conditions and shortened life spans. For a growing number of individuals, a considerably shorter life span. This is the price we pay to feel included, accepted, and maybe if we are really lucky… liked.