It was the number one piece of advice I got when we were going through infertility. Most often it was tied to something about how worrying would prevent pregnancy, or I had plenty of time. Well now that it has been almost twenty years, I have run out of time, but I have learned something about that piece of advice. In thinking about how it made me feel and how it must had made the people feel who had heard me say those words, I have realized something.
That advice, “Don’t worry,” is so toxic.
We are telling them to stop making us uncomfortable, we are silencing them. Probably not conscientiously because we are not jerks, but we are telling them “I’m sorry for your troubles, but I am uncomfortable listening to them because I can’t fix them so can you please stop talking about them.” In doing this we make the problem worse and alienate the person struggling. I have learned that it truly is all about love. If we love someone we don’t have to fix them, we just have to love them where they are and listen. It WILL all be okay…eventually, but not if we tell them to not worry. The best way I can explain it is food poising. Our bodies have an amazing ability to dispel or reject toxic things. What if we would not allow that poison out of our bodies? What would happen over time if those toxins could not get out? We would become very sick and maybe die. Well it feels like that emotionally. When someone is dealing with a burden of any kind and is told not to worry, all of those emotions get trapped inside. With no where to go they continue to make the person sicker and sicker eventually causing depression and anger. You cannot fix it, just like you cannot make a person with food poisoning all better right away. It has to run it’s course. Likewise, emotionally we have to let them get through it and let them know that we are not going anywhere. As human beings we are going to worry. We have those pesky emotions and one of them is worry. We obviously don’t want our friends to stop and set up shop there, but worry is a part of the journey. Having a good friend helps them get past this phase a little less war torn.
The one thing I wanted during that time I was struggling was a friend to listen to me without judgement, and treat me like a normal person. Not broken. This life is a messy place, but with a little love, compassion, acceptance and a willingness to understand and maybe feel a little discomfort when we can’t help, then maybe we can all get through this crazy little thing called life.
Worry always precedes acceptance. Acceptance is when we have freed ourselves to move on, but worry is a necessary part of that. Don’t tell people to not worry.