An Understanding Doesn’t Equal An Excuse

July 15, 2017

One of the things I’ve sort of struggled with a bit in therapy is that if my therapist is being calm and empathetic and understanding when trying to explain to me how neurons are wired differently growing up as a victim of abuse – how the way I grew up informs things I didn’t even know about now, a lot of times, I’m quick to think, “No excuses!”

As in – we’re grown ups, so we all have to just magically burst through whatever happened to us in childhood and “be better” now. Just poof, just like that.

And I’m not saying we should excuse behavior. It shouldn’t be like, “Oh, it’s totally cool that that person’s a jerk because [whatever personal tragedy befell them].”

But I do think it’s okay to say like, “Man, I have really noticed myself snapping at people [or some other behavior I don’t like]. I should bring that in, and talk about it” – and then really talk about it.

Of course, there are times and places for self-reflections. Sometimes you just gotta live out in the world as best you can. Sometimes, in the last year and a half, if I’ve been overly-anxious in a situation with a lot of people after having PTSD from being sexually assaulted, I’ve felt that I came off a little rude to this person or that person, as I just sort of kept my head down and got quiet.

And sometimes I’ve thought, “I wish they knew I was trying my best, or that I’m dealing with this or that, or that it took really a lot of work just to come outside today. I wish they knew that I’m not super actively trying to avoid all people at all times forever and always. I just today can’t handle any more than this.”

But you can’t put that all on a t-shirt and you can’t really tell some random stranger that you thought you were maybe slightly rude to in a short interaction.

So, sometimes you just have to do your best, and do the hard work at home and in therapy (if you choose to go to therapy), because the goal is that you do the work to the point where whatever you all dealing with – you do reroute your neurons (or however that works, I’m not a doctor), and you do learn techniques so no one knows about your tragic past (TM (trademark – not my trademark, it’s an internet thing… nevermind))… unless you decide to tell them. It’s not just like [looks over there] oooh, yeah, that person is damaged fo’ sho.

I feel like I’m having a hard time getting across what I want to say. But basically, I just feel like so often anytime we want to talk about what’s going on (even if we just wanna talk to ourselves)! we shut it down with “no excuses, no excuses. I’m strong. I’m fine,” as if needing to work something out is somehow not being “strong.”

I also feel like sometimes we shut ourselves down with something like, “So and so had it worse! If I didn’t grow up in a war town country then I don’t deserve to talk about my [whatever].”

No one’s been mean on this blog or told me to just shut up already. And yet, oftentimes when I post, I think, “I need to just suck it up already. This is so lame with my excuses of why it’s all affecting me so much or how I got to be who I am, etc.”

And yes, to some extent, I will have to “suck it up” to some extent. I want to – in the not distant future – kind of end this specific life chapter on the blog. I want to move on and talk about other things and do other things. That doesn’t mean I won’t ever deal with PTSD again, or that I won’t be in therapy, or that I won’t ever ever ever have any more thoughts on sexual assault or abuse or anything like that (that I’ll share). But I won’t want to talk about it often and in my daily life.

But aaaanyway, anyone who’s reading this blog has come into my space. You’ve come to my blog address, or you’ve subscribed. You’re here to read about what I have to say. And even still, even knowing for some reason (it’s so nice of you, thank you), you’re here for my thoughts, and even knowing those thoughts might actually be helpful – that I might say something someone identifies with and might be helpful to them, I’m still like, “How dare I talk about all this stuff? It all just feels full of excuses – like I’m just excusing myself for going through a hard time.”

But I’m not. I’m grappling with the ways my own behavior has affected my relationships and life. I am taking responsibility for the things I do that are my fault. And at the same time, I can be very sad about ways I’m affected by things that have happened to me…

Brains are so complicated. And while we are resilient creatures, that doesn’t mean we’re incapable of becoming hurt. And I just feel like so often we put this insane impossible pressure on ourselves to have “no excuses! No excuses ever!” that we sometimes don’t get to actually even get to the root of a problem – to try to actually fix it from where it stems, because we’re too busy covering it up and looking away since how dare we be affected by something?

I think we’re allowed to not “have excuses,” – to not think we can do whatever we want with zero consequences – while still having issues and problems and things worth looking at, talking about, and working on.

(I don’t know if that even makes any sense. But that’s kind of what’s rolling along in my head today.)

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