It doesn’t matter what others think. If it’s real for you then it’s important.
People often apologize for being injured.
“I shouldn’t be this way, I was never deployed.”
“I shouldn’t be struggling, I only went to Afghanistan once and my buddy over there is fine and he was there twice”
“I shouldn’t be taking up a seat in this group, there must be others who need it more than me.”
In fact, I’m not sure I have ever run a group where a large proportion of the members don’t somehow feel that they didn’t earn the right to be there.
I remember a day in my private practice when I saw an army intelligence officer who was struggling. During a tour overseas he was required to witness countless satellite images that haunted him. After returning home, he walked with shoulders slumped, burdened by his experiences. Working together, we tried to lighten his load.
Sitting patiently in the waiting room, waiting for her appointment, sat an anxious petite 10-year-old blonde girl. Her forehead was creased with worry wrinkles, her nails bitten to the quick. Her hand wringing as she anticipated speaking of the things which were most upsetting to her.
Did both have an equal right to treatment? I believe so. Certainly their experiences are very different. In my mind, it isn’t about measuring the degree of pain one has experienced. Rather, it’s about noticing the impact those experiences have on our ability to navigate our way through life. Whether we have been hit by missiles or paralyzed with anxiety, the pain is real.
It’s not our place to judge whether or not you should feel a certain way. If it’s real for you, that’s all that matters.
Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Founder, Landing Strong