I started my day writing a difficult letter to a difficult person in my life. It is not easy to speak historical hurts. There is always an internal and external voice telling you to “Get Over It”. It is like a social billboard reinforcing the pull ourselves up by our boot straps, take a licking and keep on ticking mentality. It lets everyone off the hook for those often messy but hard to grab emotional and mental wounds we cause one another. Americans are into accountability but only if the wound is visible. Also, we like accountability but not when we have to be accountable, hence the “Get Over It” mantra.
Sometime last year the difficult person in my life heard me recite a poem about the potential in transforming a historically painful relationship. This person’s response to the poem was that I ought to “get over it”. Initially, I was deeply confused as because the point I was trying to convey in the poem was my belief in creating possibility, where pain used to be. The more I mulled over their response and the phrase in general, it became clear that “Get Over It” meant something different. I realized that its real translation is usually one of two things. “Get Over It because I have no intentions of taking responsibility for my role in your pain, hurt or sadness, so no point in bringing it up, right?” or “Get Over It because whatever you are feeling is making me uncomfortable, so please return to a happy place as I would prefer not to be reminded of the things I have not gotten over!” One may also hear the phrases, move on, let it go, get past it. These statements are simply a variation on the theme.
Being told to “Get Over It” is never about the person in pain, it is almost always about that pain’s impact on the receiver of the communication. The person to whom I wrote the letter, most assuredly will receive it and say to their self that I need to GOI (“Get Over It”). Although I am sending the letter to them, my reality is it is no longer about them. It is about the importance of owning and speaking my truth, unapologetically. My need to say what has happened to me, how it has impacted me and what I plan to do as a result of that impact is a fearless ownership of the power of my experience. That willingness to unapologetically speak our truth is the catalyst between victim and survivor. This act transitions the conversation from, what someone has done to me, to a place of what I can do for myself.
Getting over something generally requires that we must get in it first. We must dissect the source of the hurt. Look at it closely, understand how it has metastasized, then remove it. There is no short cut with this. It is a long hard surgery but to do anything else is guarantee the cancer of historical hurt will show up in other places in our lives. To sew ourselves back up having never examined the inside of the pain is to pretend that what is there is not. So many of us are trying to act as if situations and circumstances have no effect on the way we move through the world. This sort of denial does not serve to do anything but further hold us captive to old pains. Personally, I am committed to keeping my bondage to very specific domains ;o).
Those who have a true investment in their own growth and yours will not suggest you get over it. A person who loves you will ask how they can help you heal from it. Healing is a different sort of process than getting over. People get over colds, with the understanding that the virus will always remain, and flair up again. Healing is about excavating pain at its source. Healing unlike GOI is a kinetic transformation, it requires work; a work that can free us. Anything else is asking us to create a fictitious reality, one in which we act as if sticks and stones can break our bones but blah blah blah blah blah… We know this is not truth.
Today I chose not to get over things, I chose to communicate them, dig into the pain, understand its source and begin the long journey toward healed. I am certain this is what must be done for me not to “Get Over It” but to get through it. If this makes you uncomfortable, I am sorry.
Actually, no I am not.