I wrote a snarky comment on facebook the other day. A friend mentioned that it's been four weeks since he and his girlfriend broke up, and that it still hurt. Two of his friends jumped in to say not to worry, it'll get easier. Times great like that. For me, it's been twelve weeks. And one phrase I'm really suck of hearing is how it will 'get better with time'.
It is what people say when they don't know what else to say. It's the automatic phrase that people utter when someone tells you they are heartbroken. And it might be true, sure. Twelve weeks on and I've figured out that driving recklessly doesn't help, I don't have to hide in bathrooms because my eyes leak anymore and I can go at least part way through the day without thinking about how very single I am.
But it is the most useless phrase to hear while your hurting. It does not make you feel better. If time is the path to healing, then you know you've got months and months of pain ahead of you, and how can you look forward to that? You can't speed up time. You can't DO anything. You can't help yourself, and for me, being helpless about moving forward was really difficult. Overwhelmingly so.
The worst thing about it was how every person who told me that it would get better in time wasn't hurting. They didn't understand how hearing that phrase made me feel like I was so, so far from happiness. From normalacy. I felt like I was on the wrong side of the fence, and nothing I could do (only time) would place me on the other side. I'd wake up every morning and really struggle with the concept of moving forward through another day. The idea of being heartbroken for weeks, months, before I felt something other than misery was positively dire.
And while perhaps it was never uttered with it, I always heard the phrase with a condesending tone. In my head I would sneer, and think how could they know my pain? How could they offer up so useless a solution while they live out their happy, happy lives? And in my head, I was ready to walk away from every person who told me that time was the way. After hearing it I often wouldn't want to confide in them anymore, I felt distant. I know they meant it with love. I know they cared, and wanted only the best for me.
But hearing variations of the phrase 'it will get easier with time' was not helpful for me.
Distractions were helpful for me. Being given books to read, movies to watch, exhibitions to see. That was helpful for me. People meeting me for coffee, sending an email, getting me out and about. That was helpful for me. People taking the time to DO things with me, giving me other things to think about. That was helpful for me.
Telling me in a quick, swift, keep-on-trucking phrase that time was the only answer? Not helpful.
So if someone you know is hurting, is heartbroken and in pain. Please, do not tell them that it will get better with time. Really, just don't. By them a coffee, tell them you're sorry they are hurting. But please don't pull out the phrase 'it will get better with time'.