Ann Litts

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

“A person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining.”

That’s the definition of stoic according to And pretty much the place I learned to live at for many years.

Simply because I reasoned out — showing emotions and feeling the feelings got you no place. It made nothing better. It didn’t fix anything, like bringing your mother back from the dead — so in truth — emotions were just wasted energy.

On top of that — it made you look weak in a world where the weak become prey. Especially when you’re a teenager — and plus — it made your eyes puffy and blood shot. Not a good look.

I became Stoic. And I rocked it. I became a professional Stoic when I became a nurse. Nurses are great in a crisis because emotions and panic are not in their realm of being. That stuff just does not go down. We are Stoic. Bam! There it was again.

I was stoic through All The Things. My daughter’s illness. The dogs and cats that died. The move to NC. My father’s death. My divorce. All of it.

Right up until I wasn’t. Something inside of me snapped — and I was done with being stoic. I was in therapy at the time when it hit me, maybe because I was in therapy — who knows? But I remember the day I curled up into a little ball on the floor and couldn’t get up any more.

Emotions grabbed hold of me and claimed me. I couldn’t shake them — the inmates had taken over the asylum. I was hurt, and angry, and so NOT stoic.

Some people were kind and understanding, others were less so. I didn’t care, I was done with giving fucks about anyone else. Or anything else. I had slipped into an emotional survival mode.

It took years to burn off the emotional sludge from the stoic build up. I’m probably not healed even yet because from time to time there are moments when anger or pain will flare at some perceived injustice.

But I’m better. WAY better. Meditation, yoga, and finding a connection to The Universe has helped me find middle ground. The place where I can feel things again without the after burn of unresolved historical C4 thrown in.

Being stoic is a myth — its crap and sooner or later — you will implode. Count on it. And you’ll be amazed at how little it will take to ignite that blaze.

In this life, in this world — we reward the strong with praise and admiration. We tell people to ‘get over things’, ‘move on’, ‘man up’, ‘soldier on’, ‘be brave’ — the idioms for this phenomenom in our culture could fill a book.

What we really should be doing is supporting each other and holding space with love and tenderness for our friends, family, and co-workers as they feel the feelings they need to feel to heal the traumas of their lives and become whole again. And for ourselves as well.

It never matters what the question is — Love is always the answer.


Ann Litts