By Samyat Kolawole
“I pushed everything I felt so deep inside … sadness became too familiar.”
I am writing this a year on from an experience that showed me the difference between getting over something, and getting through it.
A little over a year ago, I was in a relationship with someone that I really cared about. The way I felt about him made our breakup a very difficult experience for me. Because it was so difficult, I tried to just ‘get over it’ – basically, I tried to stop feeling how I felt as quickly as possible. I tried to suppress how I felt; I told myself I didn’t really care anyways, so why would I need to be upset? When I talked about it with my friends, they’d ask if I was okay and I would downplay how I felt and say I was fine. I did this so much that I pushed everything I felt so deep inside that sadness became a lingering part of me; sadness became too familiar. This, along with other things led to me becoming depressed, which affected so many other aspects of my life.
The worst was probably academically. I was in year 13 at the time, which anyone who has been through A Levels knows is the most stressful time of your teenage life. School required so much of my energy, and I felt like I had no energy left – the way I felt had made me feel this drained. There were many, many times where I couldn’t get out of bed. I’d get up for school late, leave school straight away just to go home and go back to bed. I did this so many times but dismissed it as laziness. At school, I was distracted.At work, I was distracted, and at home, I was distracted. This continued for what felt like forever.
“I should have thought practically about what I was going to do to make myself feel better”
It wasn’t until I met one of my good friends that I actually began to talk about and address how I felt. This made me realise how much I had tried to force myself not to feel anything, and that it hadn’t worked at all. Instead, I felt much worse than I would have done if I had allowed myself to get through it at the time, rather than trying to run away from how I felt because it hurt. I would tell myself not to think about it, when I should have asked myself why I feel the way I do. I told myself to get over it, when I should have thought practically about what I was going to do to make myself feel better.
Through this example, I wanted to illustrate the pain that you can cause yourself by trying to get over something, rather than trying to get through it. But what does getting through it actually mean?
This means understanding and accepting what has happened. I see this as the ‘wowwwwww’. The ‘wowwwww he really did this’ or ‘wowww this really happened?!’, for example. You also have to forgive yourself for anything you feel you did that contributed to the situation, as well as forgiving anyone else involved in the situation, even if they have not apologised to you (because you really don’t know how long you could be waiting for an apology, or if it will ever come at all). As difficult as it may be, you have to think about how you feel, and why you feel that way. Whether you have this conversation with yourself, or with a friend, it is an important part of getting through something. You have to learn to be honest with yourself and dig deep into your thoughts and feelings.
One thing that prolonged how I felt was that I didn’t want to be sad any longer but I didn’t do anything to actively make myself feel better. I would say ‘I’m tired of being so upset about this’ but never did anything to change how I felt. What will help you feel better is dependent on you; it could be avoiding things that remind you of the situation or it could be doing things that generally make you feel better. What doesn’t help is doing nothing.
“I’ve learnt to allow myself to feel whatever I feel, without judging myself for feeling that way.”
It is very important to give yourself time. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you to ‘just get over it’. They only say this because they don’t understand what you’re going through. Instead, it helps to talk to someone who understands how you feel, or at least can listen to you talk about how you feel. If you feel like you can’t talk to anyone, you can write about how you feel. If you’re religious, talking to God always helps.
The main thing is that you are actively trying to feel better, and in this way, you definitely will – but this is a process and it’s never easy. Trying to get over it seems a lot faster, and it is, but only because you are suppressing how you feel. Suppressing something means that it’s only going to come out at some point, and it will probably be a lot worse. If you’re like me, one day you’ll be drunk and start screaming. (don’t be like me pls)
I’m an emotional person and I actually like this about myself, but I still managed to convince myself that being upset is a bad thing. Now I’ve learnt to allow myself to feel whatever I feel, without judging myself for feeling that way. This has helped me a lot more than I expected. I also understand myself a lot more and have become even more self-aware. This self-awareness made me realize that there is so much power in engaging with your emotions!
All of this doesn’t just apply to relationships – there are a lot of other situations in life where we force ourselves to get over something. Whatever the situation is, the best thing for you is to get through it, rather than get over it. It takes time but you’ll ultimately feel better.
‘If you saw the size of the blessing coming, you would understand the magnitude of the battle you’re fighting.’ …