When I first joined a grief support group, I felt really strange and awkward. But that’s kind of why I joined in the first place. Until you’ve lost a partner, you can never ever possibly relate to what that’s like. I desperately needed to feel like someone knew what it was like. Seven and a half years after the trauma, I’m mostly able to fly solo, but in the early days, this support group was such a comfort.
I thought about that today when I read an article entitled, “The Secret Society of Lightning Strike Survivors.”
No, I’ve never been struck by lightning, but I can certainly relate to feeling misunderstood. These survivors have a lot to contend with, because a lot of their physical maladies seem to have no visible manifestations. But when you have been hit by 300 million volts of electricity in the space of three milliseconds, it tends to short circuit your body in a lot of ways. It can cause heart attack, brain damage, broken bones, burns, unusual and intermittent swelling of arms and legs, body aches, mental confusion, post-traumatic stress, and a whole host of other issues that no one truly understands. That’s got to be isolating.
The article discusses how one woman suffered in silence for a long time until she finally stumbled upon a group of fellow victims, and learned that they actually had conferences. After attending, she still had the same health issues, but she felt better, emotionally.
She had been seen. She had been taken seriously. She had been validated.
There are no words that adequately describe how important that is to a human being. We all want to know that someone out there “gets it.” We want to know we’re not alone.
Sometimes on this blog I write about issues that often go unspoken. The writing thereof is therapy for me, but I also hope that someone else, someone who hasn’t spoken out, might see my post and relate to it. If I have comforted even one person, then I feel I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. I really think it’s important that we all speak out about our issues and our illnesses and our differences in order to see and be seen.
Migraine sufferers, I see you. Sexual abuse survivors, I see you. Introverts, I see you. Horrified liberals, I see you. Tendonitis sufferers, I see you. Overweight people, I see you. Women working in male-dominated fields, I see you.
I could go on and on, but you get the picture. None of us are alone. But to know that, we have to speak up. We have to find our tribe, and help others to find theirs.
Please try to validate someone today. That validation will come back to you when you least expect it, and hopefully at a time when you need it the most.
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