Dear Dating Coach,
I just broke off my engagement. I’m the one who decided to end it, and I know I did the right thing. I still feel painfully sad, dejected, foolish, embarrassed, and a million other emotions I haven’t even gotten to yet. I need your help with something that is really adding another layer of pain I cannot handle right now. Everyone who hears about my broken engagement says the same thing to me; “better now than later.” I’m sure they think that they are being helpful with this sentence, but it is so incredibly frustrating to hear. A divorce in the future would definitely be terrible. But that has nothing to do with the hurt I am experiencing now. They are all basically saying, “Be happy! You could have married him and then gotten divorced. So, cheer up!” It’s maddening! What do I say to these people to make them stop?
I spent Friday with my toddler in the ER. Five hours and five stitches later, we made it home just in time for Shabbos. The staff members were so lovely. They were funny and caring and gentle. We met nurses, residents, doctors, and finally a plastic surgeon. I recounted the story shared by the preschool with me countless times. A speedy run, a fall, a short step in the way, and a cut above the eye. We heard the same response again and again, “Good thing the eye wasn’t hurt.” I must have looked confused every time this was said. I didn’t remember asking, what injury might have been worse. Why the need to share this with me? The Minimizers had to be responsible…
Like a Parking Ticket…
Minimizers are those that believe that they must remind you that whatever difficulty you may be experiencing, there could have been something even more difficult. They reprimand you, admonishing you to be grateful for the pain you are in now, because the pain could have been worse. They belittle and diminish our hurt and grief, by reminding us that there are those who suffer more. The Minimizers deride us for not realizing that while we struggle, it could definitely have been worse.
We know. We are living in a world now, with a war that reminds us daily of the greatest pain imaginable. We know.
We Need Validation.
Dearest Minimizers, please, I beg you, listen to me. We know that there are varied levels of sorrow. But our pain counts. It matters, and it should be acknowledged. Be careful to notice our hurt and validate it, make a note, and offer care. Pain is pain. Offer a warm shoulder, a homecooked meal, a visit, or a kind word. Listen, just listen, without advice or counsel. Offer support by simply being there for someone in their moment of distress, and you, my minimizer, will become a maximizer of friendship and care.
A broken engagement is sad. I’m so sorry this happened to you. I hope that you will heal and find happiness soon.