Content Warning: Blood, Death, Disordered Eating
We need to have an uncomfortable conversation about uncomfortable conversations.
Every once in a while someone asks about the bracelet I wear on my left wrist. I tell them that it bears the name of a fallen comrade. He was someone I knew, and I was there when he died. This tends to end the conversation because now it’s uncomfortable. Pardon me for making you uncomfortable. I too would prefer not to think about him bleeding to death, saluting him on his way home, and hugging his widow. I would love to sleep without nightmares and live without PTSD. Unfortunately, I don’t enjoy such a privilege.
A few friends of mine are especially thin. People love to comment on that, but they don’t feel comfortable discussing their eating disorders. People also don’t want to hear about the multiple sexual assaults that caused these eating disorders. Those conversations would make us uncomfortable.
On and around Thanksgiving, people didn’t want to talk about “depressing” things. Meanwhile, I was having numerous conversations about eating disorders, sexual assault, and other “depressing” topics. None of us wanted to talk about these things. We wanted to be happy, but the holiday itself triggered the conversations. Had I avoided these conversations, my friends would’ve suffered silently and alone which would likely have aggravated their disordered eating and other self-destructive behaviors.
As Christmas approaches, people will probably try to avoid these and other “depressing” topics. As we turn away, people will still be victimized and to suffer for reasons out of their control. Many will suffer silently and alone even in the presence of loved ones. In fact, that isolation can be much more powerful and painful when surrounded by people whose support we crave but cannot have. Heartache does not ever take a holiday even when we do.
We all want to be safe and comfortable, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that desire. The more we avoid listening to how people have suffered, however, the less we actually are safe and comfortable. We have to get comfortable with these uncomfortable conversations.