I’d like you to picture a room, a big room. Plenty of space to walk around, run around, even dance around. You get it, there’s lots of space for movement. The room has a door, some windows, a nice couch, reclining chair, table, and TV on the wall. The room is painted your favorite color that almost shimmers when the sun hits it just right. It’s a comfortable room, a room you can relax in, put your feet up, stay awhile, and be yourself.
Well, it would be, except for the fact that there is an elephant in your room.
Yep, your room has an elephant in it. It’s a decent size elephant too, maybe not African Elephant huge, but it’s Indian Elephant size, 20 feet long, 10 feet high, and let’s not even talk about those tusks.
All of a sudden that room isn’t feeling so big anymore.
We all have elephants in our rooms, metaphorically. The “elephant” is that thing that stays in the back of your mind, that you can’t help but think about when you don’t want to. That situation that looms over you throughout the day when you just want to forget. That fear that haunts you and you can’t move past. You know THAT thing. We all have one (or more) elephants. And that "room", well that’s your life.
Wherever the elephant came from, it’s living in your room, so now what?
Here are some options for dealing with your elephant:
First, you can ignore it. Just don’t talk about it. You can pretend like it’s just not there, nothing to see here, folks, just keep moving. Ignore when someone uses the wrong pronoun for your child, ignore when people think you have such a happy marriage, ignore when people are bragging about their kid’s grades or sport accomplishments, just pretend like the elephant isn’t there. You got this; it’s easy, you've probably been doing this for years.
Does this change anything? Are you feeling better? Probably not. Ignoring something just pushes it down, but it doesn’t make it go away. Ignoring the issue causes more problems, more to deal with, more to worry about. Who knows about your elephant, how do you continue to keep it quiet, how do you keep it hidden? It can be very overwhelming and is hard to sustain, so let’s look at other options.
Another way to deal with the elephant in your room is to build a bigger room. When you are sitting in your room with your elephant, you can’t escape it. It’s overwhelming, scary, intimidating. You can’t breathe. There’s so much unknown. So, build out the walls, put in new windows, give yourself the space you need to find your answers, your support, your people. Find a group where you can share and learn from people that understand, social media is full of them. Find someone, outside of your circle, where you can talk freely, someone you can lean on, someone who won’t judge you (this is NOT a shameless plug). Use this space to focus on yourself, it’s allowed. Go have fun, work out, build some muscles (mentally or physically), and rejuvenate. The elephant will still be there when you get back, but you may be different. So, leave it some peanuts and go take care of yourself.
Building a bigger room means giving yourself the gift of space, security, answers, and support. If you can’t change the situation, you can still change yourself, and then the situation doesn’t seem as bad. The elephant looks smaller now, more manageable. You have more freedom to move and think clearly. Now that you are stronger, bigger, seeing things from a new perspective, you see the issue, the elephant, more clearly. It is just an elephant, not the end of the world. This space can prepare you to face that elephant head-on.
This brings us to the last option for dealing with your elephant (well the last one I’m writing about). Face it head-on. Call it what it is, it’s a damn elephant, it’s your damn elephant. Embrace it, love it, own it. Grab a saddle, hop on up and ride that elephant around the room. Break down the door, show the world you have an elephant and you are proud of it. Take your chances on where it will take you. Don’t get me wrong, you will have to be brave, it’s not easy to face an elephant head-on, even a small one, but it is NOT impossible. You have to be strong, holding on to an elephant is hard work, embracing it is even harder, and you are strong. You have to be vulnerable, willing to make mistakes, and learn. Even if you fall on your face, you are still moving forward. So be courageous, you may not know the first thing about embracing your elephant, but you are NOT ALONE.
What happens when you face something head-on? You learn how strong you truly are. You find that you can withstand the challenge. You may lose something or someone, but if you find yourself, then you’ve won. When you face a situation head-on, you can change it and you change yourself. So be brave, be strong, be courageous, and ride your elephant with pride.