by Sheri McGregor, M.A.
A recent discussion about statistics made me think of all the parents going back to work or other pursuits on this morning after the holiday.
Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital. ~Aaron Levenstein
Maybe you miss your estranged adult son or daughter, and so it’s trying to hear your co-workers talk about what their families did for them, and how much fun they had. You’re sincerely happy for those people, but you might also be a little envious. It hurts to hear that others are enjoying great relationships while you are suffering. Or maybe you see all the good times posted on Facebook (hardly anybody posts their woes…), and feel like you’re the only one who doesn’t have adult children who love them.
Let’s be truthful—you might be envious. You might even have some thoughts about how you were a good parent, maybe even a better parent than your co-worker, friend, neighbor, or sibling who’s still close to their adult children. So why are you estranged, and that person isn’t?
Dealing with those sorts of emotions can be a challenge. In Done With The Crying, managing the tough emotions like envy, anger, and resentment are discussed throughout, and dealt with in a specific chapter. That’s too big a topic to cover here, but on this day after the holiday weekend, considering statistics might help (at least a little).
Stats: What aren’t you being told?
This is no consolation—but in hearing others’ fun, consider what you’re not being told. People present the best in their lives. The most horrific and embarrassing personal challenges aren’t usually the ones we openly share.
All those social media images are carefully chosen. All those beautiful scenes your co-worker shares about a holiday are only a slice of their life they choose to let you see. Even the most perfect people aren’t. Even the most hunky-dory families aren’t all rosy all of the time. There may be things you don’t know about—and that won’t be shared—just as you may quietly tell them you’re glad they had a good time, then duck out of the breakroom without sharing more about your own holiday.
Do not put your faith in what statistics say until you have carefully considered what they do not say. ~William W. Watt
Maybe this doesn’t help. Maybe it’s even wrong to point out that other people likely have secret pain. But the truth is, we don’t always know what sort of personal traumas people have been through.
Obviously, knowing that others suffer doesn’t mitigate our own emotional pain. Nor does it make up for the loss of special relationships, and bonds we believed were unbreakable. It’s just something to think about on this new day—another brand new start.
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