I’m so sorry that you had someone react to you in that way when you were struggling and needed support :[
1. Please know that when other people respond like that, it isn’t about you.
I know that it’s so hard not to use that situation as evidence that you’re inadequate. And I understand that it’s even more difficult not to close yourself off and stay silent out of the fear that someone will invalidate your feelings again. But how that person reacted was not about you. It was about them and their own insecurities and limitations and discomfort with sadness, and those judgements don’t have to become your truth. And more importantly, they don’t have the power to discount your worth as a person. Your worth is something inherent. You exist and therefore, you matter. And with or without anyone’s approval or validation, you’re enough.
2. Your feelings are always valid.
Even when people try to silence you. Even when they invalidate your experiences and try to make you feel like you’re broken for feeling the way you do — your feelings are important and they matter. They may not always be logical, but they are always valid. Because feelings aren’t about logic. They aren’t good or bad or right or wrong. They just are. If you feel something, then you feel it and it’s real and true for you. And that is all the validation you need.
3. Anyone who tries to silence you is not your friend.
If you reach out to your new friends and they tell you to stop complaining and get over it, it doesn’t mean that you’re too much or too sensitive. It doesn’t mean you have to shrink or stay silent. It means that those people are assholes, andit means that you need to seriously reevaluate whether they are worth keeping in your life. Because the right friends are not going to make you feel inadequate and small. The right friends — the friends you deserve — are the ones who are going to give you space to share how you feel. They may not understand your struggles or know how to help, but they aren’t going to shame you for feeling the way you do, and they aren’t going to silence you. They’re going to be there and listen and do their best to support you. They’re going to be open to learning how to help and they’re going to treat you with compassion and kindness. These are the people who matter. Don’t settle for anything less.
4. It’s okay to reach out to our friends, even if they have their own struggles.
Maybe it would help to think of the situation from an outside perspective: You struggle with your own demons, but I can imagine that if one of your friends came to you, you wouldn’t turn them away. There might be certain days when you’re feeling depressed or sad and just don’t have it in you to support other people, and you would explain that to your friend and try to find someone else who could help them instead. But you wouldn’t think that they were a burden for reaching out to you. You would see them as someone who’s hurting, and because they’re your friend and you care about them, you would want to do whatever you could to help and make them feel less alone. And you are aren’t an exception. The right friends aren’t going to think you’re a burden for reaching out. They may not always be able to support you if they’re going through their own stuff, but that doesn’t mean they won’t ever be able to, or that they wouldn’t want to.
5. Here are some things I’ve learned about reaching out from my own experiences.
- When I make myself vulnerable and find the courage to reach out to a friend, it makes that friend feel more comfortable being vulnerable and sharing things with me in the future. And more often than not, taking that leap has been how I’ve been able to create deep connections with people and form really meaningful and genuine friendships.
- When I’m struggling and another friend reaches out to me, I’ve found that helping them challenge their negative thoughts helps me strengthen my own healthy voice.
- If reaching out feels difficult because you’re afraid of having your feelings invalidated, know that it’s also okay to reach out without doing much sharing/explaining about why you feel the way you do. You can always say something like “Hey, I’m feeling really awful and sad and I just need to sit with someone. Can I sit with you” And if they’re sad and struggling too — and they want company — you can sit together and use that as an opportunity to support each other in the moment.
- When you reach out to one person and they aren’t available, that isn’t any kind of evidence that you’re too much. Sometimes people are busy. Sometimes, they’re really caught up in their own personal struggles and daily anxieties or responsibilities, and they just don’t have the time or energy to be there for us in that moment. But that doesn’t mean they don’t care about us, or that they don’t want to help. It just means that we need to find a different person to reach out to who is available.
6. No matter what you’re going through, you are not too much.
Struggling in this way doesn’t make you a burden. It doesn’t make you too sensitive or too needy. It makes you human. Everyone has a difficult time coping with life. Everyone has times where they get sad or lonely. Everyone has days where they feel overwhelmed and defeated and hopeless. And at some point, everyone needs support. And that’s okay. There is absolutely no shame in reaching out. You deserve to make your self-care a priority, and if that means sharing your feelings and unloading some of the pain you carry, then that’s what you need to do. You don’t ever have to apologize for taking care of yourself.
Sending a hug and a lot of love your way,