Invalidation and The Power of Acceptance
The Cure to Many Wounds
Everyone in this world struggles with something internally at one point in time or another. This struggle can come from catastrophic occurrences in which nobody can deny the pain that it inflicts. However, that is not always the case. What often goes unrealized is that, for many, these struggles can arise in ways that can easily go unseen. Though the occurrence may not be as tragic, it is not uncommon for it lead to something that can slowly deteriorate someone’s inner being.
Though it's counterpart, acceptance, is a common topic, invalidation is a problem that’s not talked about enough. It’s found in so many facets of our everyday lives from personal relationships to social groupings. When someone feels something that they can’t easily describe, or something that is hard to understand, it is easy for us as humans to invalidate how someone feels.
I would be willing to make the argument that any political and social movements from Women’s Suffrage, Civil Rights, LGBTQ+, Black Lives Matter, and all the important ones I haven’t named, are a matter of invalidation.
Validation is the Most Basic Human Right
Validation of one’s feelings and being is the most basic human right that anyone on this earth can have. It is the bedrock on which all others rest upon. If we could validate the differences in feelings, appearance, and perspective of our human counter-parts, there would be no need for protests and movements.
If we were able to validate other human beings as they are, this world would be able to live in a cohesive fashion that has only been dreamed of in utopian literature. It encompasses everything that we need to live in harmony.
To validate someone else, you must hold a certain amount of love for them within. The hardest argument I have been trying to make is one that even the worst of humans should be loved at the most basic level. I once heard Maya Angelou speak the words of an old Roman playwright, Terence: "Homo sum humani nihil a me alienum puto." Meaning, "I am human; therefore, nothing human is alien to me."
Paraphrased, she explains it in this way: By our very nature, we can never look at an act of mal-intent, and say I could never do that—no matter how heinous. A human being did it, and I have to accept that I have in me all the components that are in them. I intend to use my energies constructively as opposed to destructively. If we can do that about the negative, we can also say that about the positive. If we can dream a great dream or dare to be a Martin Luther King of the world, then we too have all the same components.
This is the most basic level of love we must hold in all human beings that surrounds us, both good and bad. However, this sense of understanding is one of the most forgotten forms of love.
Invalidation in Toxic Relationships
When we see invalidation, it often comes up between political and social groups who fail to understand each other. However, we often fail to see how this comes up more silently in personal relationships from both male and female counterparts.
I, personally, lived through a relationship that was just under seven years in length. Through time, I became more and more discontented, and I never knew why. Now, a year and a half after it ended, I have finally come to the conclusion I knew all along. To be with her, to make everyday work over the years, I had to do one of two things.
First, I had to deny myself the belief that love, true love, was greater than what I was experiencing. One of the few pitfalls of my young childhood was that I was raised by a single mother. Moreover, though she did a magnificent job playing both parts, one thing she couldn’t teach me was how to be loved by a romantic partner. Though both of my parents loved me unconditionally, they did so separately. Though I was always shown how to love family, I never had them as a role model of how to love in romance.
Secondly, I had to deny the discontent that arose from this particular lack of love with my ex to keep her happy. I always concluded that it was my fault I wasn’t feeling fulfilled, and the moments I brought it up were met with indifference. It led me to suffer through years of unhappiness, because no one, neither he nor myself, could understand what I did and didn’t know.
Invalidation and Confidence
In the present, a year and a half after the end of the painful relationship, I am still growing and learning from once was. Every day has gotten brighter, and I am living a life I never thought I could. However, I realized that though I have become increasingly more individualized, there was still a missing part. This missing component has shrunk increasingly small, but it is still there.
Some days it’s gone, but it has always come back sooner or later. For so long, I have been determining what it was. It was tonight, about 30 minutes ago when I came to the revelation that is something invalidation took away from me.
The invalidation took away my individualization and confidence to be myself. Though, as of recent, I was able to overcome this more times than not, I did so without knowing what I was fighting. It is now that I can look it in the face, and fight it tooth and nail whenever that piece again becomes lost.
Anyone who is living in this world should have the right to accept themselves as they are and whom they want to be. Movements that we see in our society have arisen because stringent definitions take away from who we truly are. We are billions of people who are each individuals in this world we call home. With everyone on this planet, the countless nuances of personality and individualization, and the myriad of spectrums on which we can fall—we have to accept that titles and groupings are falsified representations of what it means to be human.
So, if you ever feel lost in this world, you ever feel like you can’t be accepted, you ever feel like you are invalidated, I want you to remember this one thing; there is only one way to guarantee your acceptance in this world, and that is if you accept yourself first.
For whomever you may be, no matter how far the distance, how significant the barrier of understanding, I will always try to make my self second. To love even the most broken of strangers is the most human thing I can do.
I accept you.