It took me many years, lost friendships and missed opportunities to understand: anytime I even think the words “I’m over it,” I am telling myself a story.
It’s a story of invincibility from the most bullet-proof version of myself I can conjure up.
It’s a story about how something that was painful will never hurt me again.
It gave me plausible deniability. I’m not vulnerable because I say so. I’m telling you to believe me, because I can’t show you.
OK, maybe I’m not over it
If I were ‘over’ it, would I have to tell you? Wouldn’t you have noticed it in my behavior, heard it in my words, observed my thoughts and beliefs in action?
I’ve learned that when I’m truly “over” something, it means I’m no longer holding on to the suffering that comes from the story I made up about it. It means I’ve accepted that the event happened and my life changed somehow as a result.
Maybe in a big way, maybe not-so-big.
There was before. Now there’s after.
I understand how tempting it is to say “I’m over it.” I used to think that by saying so (repeatedly, of course) I might make it true.
Years ago, I declared I was “over” what I considered a friend’s betrayal, while continuing to tell the betrayal story, attempting to recruit allies to validate it. I wanted to believe that it didn’t affect me, that I had no emotional residue that needed attention, that I didn’t care anymore.
Yet there I was, all righteous indignation. Clearly not over it.
It wasn’t until I accepted what happened and processed the pain that I could see that her behavior had more to do with her beliefs, stories and judgments than it did with me.
I also accepted that I played a starring role that I’m not keen to reprise.
When I’m truly “over” something, I’m willing to feel the grief, sadness or shame. I’m unwilling to continue judging the situation, myself, or the other person.
When I’m “over it” I stop telling myself I should have seen it coming, said something different, tried harder. I stop berating myself for exposing my heart or exhibiting neediness.
I let go of blame. I own my pain, my shame, my part in the drama.
How to REALLY get over it
When we’re over something, it doesn’t mean we don’t feel anything, even if that’s the message we’ve been trying to send. It means we have allowed ourselves to feel the emotions that made it a memorable event in the first place.
We welcome the bittersweet tinge of regret, the lightness of compassion for ourselves, the freedom of release from story-prison, and the sweet relief that comes from telling the truth.
When we say “I’m over it,” what we’re really saying is that we need to give “it” some attention.
Here’s how to start the process from “over it” to acceptance, which is where “it” releases the emotional hold that keeps you stuck.
Next time the words, “I’m over it” form in your head, do some inquiry: What makes it worth mentioning? What was it about the situation that got my attention in the first place? What makes me want to be over it? What does it mean about me if I’m not?
Find the exact word in your emotional vocabulary (or look here for one that fits) to describe how you felt when it happened and how you feel now. If the intensity of feeling hasn’t abated, you’re stuck. If you can’t find an emotional description for how your feelings have transformed over time, there’s more processing to do.
Remember that ‘selfish’ acts are sometimes necessary to set boundaries for ourselves. Consider the possibility that what happened wasn’t about you, but about what someone else believed they needed to do. Hurting you was not the intention, saving themselves from hurt was.
Consider reframing your response from “I’m over it” to “I experienced a lot of pain, and even though it still hurts to think about, I’m grateful for what it taught me.”
Consider forgiveness. Not the kind where you say you’ve forgiven, with an edge in your voice and tension in your body. Real forgiveness. The kind that creates a softening in your heart and soul and body.
Start by forgiving yourself, for how powerless you were to stop them from hurting you, for holding on to the hurt. Then you can work on empathy for what motivated them, which gives you a shot at forgiveness.
Get help with it.
If you’re talking about trauma, and you haven’t yet processed the event with a professional trauma counselor or therapist, call one. They’ll walk you through the process of healing, and take care of your tender heart.
If you’re not talking about trauma, a good coach or wise friend can help you identify where you are in the process of resolving the issue in an honest way. They’ll also walk you through the process of healing, and provide a safe space for you to rant, cry, and eventually, laugh about it.
It happened, it hurt, it affected you, it was part of your path.
How to know if you’re truly “over it”
When you’re truly “over it,” you’ll have a gentle sense of humor about it. You won’t want to pretend it never happened. You’ll feel the deep truth of acceptance.
When you’re truly “over it,” you’ll talk about it from a place of courage and vulnerability, because you’ve gotten to the heart of it: your heart. This is where courage resides and turns into wisdom, if you’re willing to experience “it” fully.
And if you can’t get over it, that’s okay, too
You might fall into your grave never having reconciled or forgiven or let go or otherwise grown past it. It’s your path, and no one has any business judging you for it.
If you’ve been living with it for a while, you can probably be with it a little longer.
If you can be honest with yourself and your trusted friends about not being “over it,” you might find that you’re okay with your not okay-ness.
And we can all be okay with that.