Suffering In Silence
Suffering in silence. What does it mean? So often I hear individuals being told “you know you shouldn’t suffer in silence right?” When an individual is faced with a stressor of any sort they generally fight, take flight, or freeze in the situation. Grief, trauma, and everyday challenges (ie divorce, job loss, homelessness, etc) are generally biologically coded as stress to the average human brain. The brain does not differentiate between someone holding a gun to your head versus the instability caused by wage garnishment for example. Stress is just that, stress.
While the body will go into fight or flight, the chosen reaction to a stressor can vary from person to person. Just as well as one person may choose to fight instead of fleeing a stressful situation, another person may choose to work through that same circumstance alone. By alone, that person that presents well could be in a fight for their livelihood internally. That person that seems to always have it all together; the one that regularly smiles and always has an encouraging word for you. Many times the very person that individuals turn to regularly for advice or support is the individual that needs the advice and support.
Suffering in silence: not speaking out about your struggles or hardships with those closest to you while you carry on in your daily life as if nothing is wrong. When someone notices that small change in your daily presentation, they inquire about your well-being. You deny that there is anything wrong, or minimize what is actually going on. We mute our own voice. How can you let yourself go through some of your deepest days without having a voice? An outlet or release of some sort? Why are we alright with hurting, crying, carrying anger, and shoulding (shoulda, woulda, coulda,) ourselves to death? Why are we alright with suffering in silence?
The difficulty in the matter is that for the usual advice giver, they can be met with resistance when reaching out to others to open up. Those that they turn to may have no clue of how to support the very person that always supports them. It can be shocking to the individual that their confidante is not the strong problem-less individual they initially thought they were. When the confidante’s human nature shows, it can be perceived as weakness to some. I have not met many people that are alright with appearing weak to others. It is much easier to avoid the situation altogether than to put in work to heal.
I realized over the years of being a Social Worker that some people have a voice but are afraid to use it. Some don’t understand its application while others are afraid of its power. In this case, they are alright with using their voice to help others, but won’t apply it to themselves. The same compassion that they have for others can be applied to them by themselves and others. On the other hand, some are afraid of possibly changing the state of their relationships. By asserting that they too are important and deserving of the same support that they give out, some may turn their backs due to the changed roles in the relationship. When you bring yourself to a place of understanding your own worth and importance, lost relationships won’t be a hindrance. Breaking your silence is the most powerful, healing and loving thing that you can do for yourself. Release the weight with a trusted friend, family member, or therapist that can support you through your circumstance.
Corletha Norman Bey, LCSW