“Tough times never last, but tough people do.” –Robert Schuller
There are times during this grief journey that I feel small and worthless. I don’t normally suffer from lack of self esteem so the intensity of this feeling is foreign to me.
Not that I have never felt this way. Everybody does at some point. But since Charles’ suicide, it has, at times, been paralyzing and more persistent.
My normally tough exoskeleton is soft and pliable during these episodes that I can only assume are triggered by the vulnerability of grief. I have moments when I think if I screamed at the top of my lungs no one would hear. That’s the small feeling.
I give myself pep talks to get out of the mindset which sometimes uses all my resources leaving me limp and lifeless at the end of the day.
I now understand when Charles wrote, “I’m over six feet tall, I never felt so small.”
Where does this feeling come from?
I think it comes from the fact that suicide (and maybe even divorce, too) makes you feel like you weren’t worth sticking around for. Hence the worthless feeling. Intellectually, I know that Charles’ suicide is not “my fault.” Emotionally, I don’t seem to have control over how it makes me feel sometimes.
Do understand that feeling worthless and thinking you are worthless are two different things.
I do not think I am worthless. I credit that latter part to experience and resilience and I am thankful to have a strong foundation of that.
Participation in support groups in addition to traumatic past experiences have helped me develop this skill defined as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress.
Being resilient does not mean that I don’t experience difficulty or distress. Or react to trauma. It just means that I bounce back fighting. Oftentimes harder than before.
The result is tenacity
I have a lot of that and I am thankful these episodes of worthlessness are temporary. Just knowing they are helps and that’s where experience comes in.
Understanding this feeling has helped me see the fundamental shift in relationships that has occurred over the last few years. We are much more silo-ed and focused on our own journey, not taking as much time to be there for others.
We do reach out, but we rarely invest ourselves in that effort.
It’s from this feeling that I was able to develop a high school suicide prevention program which, at its core, revitalizes emotional connection that stimulates feelings of worthiness. A feeling that once learned can reside in an emotional toolbox for our young people.
I couldn’t have done that without having had the experience of feeling unworthy.
What I’m saying is that worthlessness can result in something worthwhile. You simply have to have faith that it will come to you if you let it.