Create Sacred Space with Validation
I love how my oldest son, 15, throws his head back to laugh.
I love how he sets his books down to wipe away tears.
I love his impersonations, especially his Christopher Walken.
I love his creative passion.
And I love his naturally high empathy.
As a toddler, he’d approach crying children on the playground. Squatting down, he’d reach out a chubby hand to comfort.
Last night my son walked downstairs as I was talking to my husband about therapy, and saw me crying.
“Are you ok?” he asked.
“I’m struggling with the trauma from when I was young.”
He knows the trauma I’m speaking of- the public sexual assault that happened when I was two years younger than he is now. He knows because I’ve been talking to my sons about consent, male privilege, and rape culture for awhile now. He knows because I share my experiences openly to combat shame and to practice courage.
“Well, that was a really bad thing that happened to you,” he said.
“Yes, it really was.” I replied.
What a beautiful display of validation. My shoulders moved back. My chin rose.
We are constantly trying to fix everything and everyone. On the surface it looks like love- I love you enough to hate to see you in pain so I’m going to stitch you up by reminding you that life’s not so bad and pointing out all the reasons you have to be happy.
But I think fixing is a way out of vulnerability. I think it’s more like- when you display pain, I feel pain, and I don’t want to feel pain, so let’s fix you right up.
Vulnerability is excruciating. Empathy hurts. It hurts because it’s a chord between another person’s suffering and our own. No one wants to feel pain. Please, give us ANYTHING but pain.
In a world where sensitivity is seen as weakness, and feelings are deemed sickness, the space created by validation is sacred.
I am grateful to have loved ones who come to the table as I sit crying, bear witness to my pain, and say yes. Yes this is pain. I see your pain. I validate your pain.