Love shouldn’t hurt – ever

Cut the Strings
Consider all the things that weigh us down in life: Loss, death, illness, finances, grief, guilt, traumatic experiences, deadlines, worry. With all the burdens we each cart around, would we ever intentionally choose to carry more? All those aforementioned things are weights we carry on our shoulders daily. Many of these burdens are unavoidable and out of our control, but some we allow. We cannot choose to avoid illness or death of loved ones nor the traumatic experiences at someone else’s hands. However, we can choose to learn how to manage our finances better, not procrastinate with deadlines, refuse to feel guilty if we’ve done our best, and put worry aside. But, regardless of where they come from, we carry these burdens around daily. Thankfully, there are some burdens we can choose to lay down and lighten our load.

In a recent survey, school children were asked, “If you were granted one wish about your parents, what would it be?” The kids’ number one wish was that their parents were less tired and less stressed. Kids notice. And whether we want to believe it or not, our burdens become theirs. We like to say our kids are resilient and they are young and won’t remember things. However, the truth is, adverse childhood experiences affect kids into adulthood. Your children are young such a short time. Don’t allow life’s burdens to steal that time from you.

Vicarious trauma is something we all deal with too. Nobody has a life that is not touched by trauma and with all our instantaneous social sharing, not only do we carry the weight of our own burdens, we also carry the weight of others. We can watch missiles being launched and cities being bombed far away in real time. Videos are quickly shared of attacks or accidents. Often, without real friendships, people turn to social media to share their depression and anxiety. As viewers, we feel the weight of those things in our own home. Self-care is an important tool to help you let go of vicarious trauma.

Life is hard. Why would we ever choose to make it more difficult? Maybe we don’t really realize all the things we are holding onto. Maybe we just don’t know how to let go. I read a story of a farmer who had a large hay bale fall on top of him. He was being crushed to death from the weight of the bale. A friend was near and tried to rescue the farmer, but the bale was too heavy. The farmer couldn’t breathe deep enough to speak loudly, but he kept whispering, “Cut the strings. Just cut the strings.” He knew that the strings were holding the heavy bale together and if they’d just cut the strings, the bale would fall apart and they could remove enough to rescue him.

Maybe that’s us. Maybe we are living our daily lives crushed under the weight of burdens we have neatly stacked and tied, not willing to cut the strings and let them fall away. Burdens can be like roadblocks in life. When you come to a roadblock, you have to choose if you will allow this to stop you and cause you to be “stuck”, or will you find a way around the roadblock so you can continue down life’s path. Are you ready to cut the strings of the burdens that are holding you back?

Crisis Services of North Alabama offers free and confidential services to survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence. You may call the Jackson County office at 256.574.5826 for an appointment. We also offer a 24/7 HELPline at 256.716.1000 where you can speak with a trained crisis counselor. Reach out. You are not alone.

-Teresia Smith

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