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Embracing the Suck

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Embracing the suck is a military expression used to mentally push through the difficult trainings and harsh conditions. It is the understanding that, although things are unpleasant, the situation is unavoidable and you have to get through it to be better in the end. Therapy in and of itself is learning how to embrace the suck as addressing concerns, creating awareness, setting boundaries, letting go of people, practicing forgiveness, and changing maladaptive habits is incredibly unpleasant.
I tell clients that they will feel worse initially because they have to get in the $#*t to clean it out, but once it starts clearing they will feel better. This has been a highly valuable mindset during the pandemic. I have talked with many clients during this time about how to manage their energy and cope with the loneliness and isolation, changes in employment, or limitations in activities. Embrace the suck as this situation is unpleasant and unavoidable. How does one get better in the end? By focusing on themselves and developing a deeper understanding and relationship with who they are. 

Personally, this is something I had to do, embrace the suck. I moved to Tampa in 2017, knowing very few people here, as a working mom who is in private practice. This means that my ability to interact socially has been extremely limited. Just as I was beginning to create a rhythm socially by going to the gyms, becoming a regular at my favorite eateries, and generally having a better lay of the land, the pandemic hit. The isolation did not affect me initially as I was focused on work and homeschooling, staying active, and being creative in getting outside. Then a guy said something to me two months ago that made me realize that although I am healed from my past traumas, there is still a residual effect that I never noticed. A residual effect that when I became intentional in addressing, I had to embrace the suck.

Most of my high school and college years were spent bouncing around in friendships with little to no real emotional connection with them, but a strong desire to have friends and always striving to be connected with these people. Unfortunately, when you are in pain and a natural healer (i.e. people come to you with their problems), you attract other people in pain and you seek out those people because you can’t entirely relate to the happy people. Over time, these people eventually would hurt me in some way even when my inclination was not to hurt, but to try to heal. As I healed, the type of people I allowed in my life slowly evolved and changed. I was better able to identify early on someone’s pain or toxic behaviors and set boundaries, while also emotionally opening myself up to good people. 

Here is the kicker. That means I was an incredibly late bloomer in understanding the type of people to let into my life. I also moved frequently, so staying connected, although isn’t an issue for me, can be quite difficult for other people. The comment this person made helped me realize that, although I have healed, the residual effect from my trauma is the continued striving for connection behavior and being a peripheral person to most people’s lives. I know these amazing people care about me, but while I was gallivanting with the wrong crowd, they were forming solid relationships with their family and friends. There is nothing wrong with that, but in a pandemic you notice it. So, I took a step back to evaluate this behavioral pattern of a desire for friends and striving to be connected, changed some behaviors, and accepted the isolation and loneliness. I embraced the suck because at the end of the day, I will find peace within me and value the moments I have with the people in my life in a different way than I did in my past. 

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