When I was studying to become a Social Worker, a concept often emphasised in healing, was that of the client being ready. We were taught that it didn’t matter what you said, if that person was not ready to hear it, they would not hear it, or they would hear it and reject it. We were taught that emotional healing was timely.
There are many people out there, who carry around some form of emotional baggage, this could be an unhealthy situation they are in, harmful behaviour pattern(s), unresolved grief or trauma. It’s incredible how many of us can carry around our baggage for great lengths of time, managing to avoid dealing with it. The problem is if we don’t deal with it, it doesn’t go away. It often masks itself in other ways such as overworking, stress, sleep problems, people pleasing, emotional eating, fatigue, sickness and projection of our feelings onto others; just to name a few.
I have learnt from being a Social Worker, from being a friend, from being a family member, that humans are very good at avoiding the real problem. We want to stick a band-aid on the symptoms and hope they will disappear, without delving into the cause of the symptoms.
Admitting emotional baggage is scary, unpacking it is frightening, but sorting out the baggage, well that’s just terrifying. I guess that’s why we’ll do anything to avoid it. Myself included.
I managed to avoid the fact that my parents were alcoholics and I suffered childhood trauma as a result of their addiction, for twenty-three years. Like my lecturers at University had pointed out; people told me I needed to face my baggage; I suffered insomnia, people-pleasing and anxiety, but I did not listen to those people trying to help me, because I was not ready to.
From my experience of dealing with my “stuff”, I’ve come to realise emotional healing is timely. We don’t deal with things until we are able to. I couldn’t have been in a better position to do some hard work on myself when I began this journey, and maybe subconsciously I knew that. It was like I unknowingly fore-saw it and planned my life necessarily for a breakdown. I had developed friendships with my closest friends where we could tell each other everything, no matter how shameful, I had a lot of social support around me including a very understanding partner and I had managed to get my savings to a point where when I completely fell apart, I was able to resign from my job.
I’m glad I got to a point where I felt safe enough subconsciously, to deal with things. This experience has given me so much more empathy for people who engage in avoidance. Before I realised I was avoiding my own problems, I viewed people in denial much more negatively. Now I understand, they’re not quite ready yet, and that’s okay, because healing is timely.