It happens at least once in every conversation I have. I've heard it a million times, and likely said it a million times. You've heard it a million times, and likely said it a million times. It's time for us to put this phrase to rest...
"But it's nothing compared to what you're going through"
Why does it have to compare to what I'm going though in the first place? You see, pain is subjective in the sense of what hurts me may not hurt you and vice versa. Within that subjectivity is a whole realm of other characteristics; how you describe the pain or rate it, where the pain originates, whether it be mental and emotional pain or physical anguish. Notice that in all of those characteristics there is no definitive form of measuring that pain or comparing it to others, there is no political way to decide which pain is worse--and there shouldn't be!
It seems that every time I'm asked how I am and I honestly reply, I'm met with that dreaded phrase. That answer is not only generated in conversations with those that are well, but aswell within the chronic illness community. We live in a world where we are constantly built upon and shaped by comparison and critique, by shaming ourselves and minimizing our emotions. We should live in a world where we are free to endure difficult situations and hardships in our own individual ways and still be given the support we deserve.
My problems and hardships hurt me immensely, some nights there is no greater pain than what I'm facing but my pain should not minimize yours. It should not be a gauge to determine where your pain falls on the spectrum. Regardless of what we encounter there will always be someone out there who is experiencing something worse. Does that mean we cannot cry when we encounter sorrow? Does that mean you are not entitled to be fed up and upset with your current reality? Does that numb or dull the pain you feel in any way? No, no it does not.
Don't discount your emotions and hardship by comparison, because it is so incredibly real to you and so incredibly valid even though you may feel that they are not. You have every right to feel the way you do irregardless to what the world and people around you are encountering. Our feelings cannot be ignored or wished away and the way we deal with them is by confronting them head on, and if your method of coping is by confiding in someone do not apologize for that. Dismiss any notion of what you’ve been told you “should” or “shouldn’t” feel. You have to drown out the voices of people who try to shame you into silence, even if it's your own.
Despite what you have been lead to believe, you don’t need anyone’s approval or validation to endure the feelings you are experiencing. Your feelings are intrinsically true and just. Each aspect of your experience is important and it matters and it is more than okay to react to the emotions you encounter. Don’t let anyone, including your own mind and self, convince you otherwise.
So the next time that you feel the need to apologize, or down play your emotions for the sake of someone elses--dont. Remember that your pain is just as relevant and as real as mine or as the next guy's despite anyone that tells you otherwise.