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Even lions need to lick their wounds…

So many of us from relational trauma backgrounds are often in the challenging position of feeling all the strain and strife of normal human life while also trying to work through and heal the impacts of our childhood trauma histories.

That’s A LOT of opportunity to feel overwhelmed, exhausted, incapable, and weary.

And many of us still cope with all of that without having functional, supportive parents we can turn to for support when we need it most when we’re feeling all those big, hard feelings.

That’s the crummy thing about coming from a relational trauma history: the impulse to turn to your caregivers for support never really leaves (that’s human nature) but the double bind is that the people you want to turn to for support are likely the ones who hurt you the most and/or have extremely limited capacities.

Even lions need to lick their wounds…

It’s painful. 

And it can feel lonely. 

And so today’s blog post is another in the pep talk series that I’ve curated over the years on my site – a series meant to provide you with the written words of support that ideally a good enough mother, a good enough father, and even an idealized grandparent could give you.

Words of encouragement, validation, comfort, mirroring, and cheerleading so that you can cultivate your own inner good enough parents, imaginal resources you can call upon in the absence of flesh and blood support when life gets tough.

As strong as you are, even lions need to lick their wounds, and the words in these pep talks are meant as salve for when you hurt. 

I hope that today’s essay, written from the perspective of a good enough grandfather, brings you some support and peace and comfort when and if you need it. 

If it does, please let me know in the comments. I truly love hearing from you. 

Even lions need to lick their wounds.

Hey kiddo. 

You’re going through a really tough time right now, aren’t you? 

You’re working so hard nearly every minute of the day, nearly every day of the week. 

I see you trying so hard to do right by so many people: your colleagues, your clients, your partner, your children, your neighbors, your friends.

You’re giving all you have, aren’t you?

And you’re tired. 

I can hear it in your voice when you call up. 

I can see it in your eyes in those last photos you posted to the iPhotos album.

You’re weary. 

No, no, hear me out. 

It’s not a criticism. 

You don’t have to pretend you’re not weary and tired. Not with me you don’t!

I know how that feels. 

I remember being in my 30’s and 40’s and feeling like I was single handedly in charge of trying to get a jumbo jet off the ground to cruising altitude. 

Life felt so hard. 

Building the career, building financial security, giving to so many people and so many pursuits with so little energy or time left for me.

All my downtime was spent thinking about how to financially protect my young family, how to make us safer, more secure, more stable than the world I was born into. 

I didn’t feel like there was a choice but to keep going because the buck stopped with me.

And I know it does with you, too.

I see how hard you’re working and you GET to be tired and weary of it. 

You’re in one of the hardest times of your life right now and things don’t feel stable and secure yet. 

You don’t feel stable and secure yet.

You feel shaky and that’s okay. 

Your plane isn’t at cruising altitude yet. 

It will be though. 

Kiddo, please hear me.

You’re phenomenal. 

You’re so strong, so capable. 

That’s not a compliment. 

That’s a fact. 

I’ve watched you since you were little and I’ve marveled at your strength and capacities. 

You were such a little trooper. 

Working hard and creating spaces for yourself even when there were none. 

And you’re still doing it. 

I admire you so much, not because I’m your grandparent, but because you’re an incredible human.

And yes, you’re strong and so very, very capable. 

Just like a lion.

But kiddo, even lions need to lick their wounds sometimes.

Even the strongest need a break. 

They need a place they can retreat to and allow themselves to feel sad, scared, and overwhelmed

That doesn’t make you weak. 

That makes you human. 

And this also isn’t how you feel most of the time – I know you.

I know how much you can shoulder.

But right now it feels like too much and that’s okay. 

It’s okay to let it feel like too much and it’s okay to be honest with yourself and with me about it.

I want to be a safe space for you to say how you actually feel. 

I love you so much. 

I’ve always felt connected to you ever since you were little. 

Honestly, I felt more connected to you than I did some of my own children.

I see so much of myself in you and I am so, so proud of you.

You’re changing your life and your family’s trajectory just like I tried to do with mine.

Anyone can build a nice house on a solid foundation with plenty of resources to do so.

It’s another thing entirely when you have no foundation under you and have to carve that out first and scrimp and scrape and count only on yourself to find the means to build a house.

That’s you, kiddo. 

You’re doing this generation changing work of trying to heal, of trying to build, of not just surviving life but actually trying to live out your potential.

Life will always feel harder when you come from as little as you and I did.

Life will always feel harder when you’re not just content with hiding and getting by but instead trying to live in a bigger way that not only helps yourself but helps others.

You are a lion, kiddo. 

And even lions need to lick their wounds.

So, please, don’t dismiss how you feel.

Don’t deny it.

Let yourself feel sad.

Let yourself feel scared.

Let yourself feel overwhelmed.

It makes so much sense that you would feel that way!

Let yourself feel all your feelings, let yourself have a little pity party.

It won’t be forever. 

You won’t always feel this way. 

But you DO need to let yourself feel how hard things feel right now. 

And I have a hunch that if you do actually let yourself feel sorry for yourself, even for a little bit, you’ll actually feel better.

Feel your feelings, get some good sleep, and then get up the next day and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Because that’s what lions do. 

We persist, we persevere. 

All of this work you’re doing, to heal yourself, to build a responsible, good adult life for yourself, it is hard. 

But it’s also what’s making you stronger and more capable.

Look back on who you were five years ago. 

Could you even imagine being capable of what you’re currently doing back then? 

No, right? 

You became the person you are today – a person capable of handling that much more – because you moved through that hardship. 

These hard times are uncomfortable, no doubt.

But they also shape you into a stronger, more capable, more resilient person.

Can you look back and remember those other times in your life when you felt like everything was falling down around you? 


And then can you see, even a little bit, now in hindsight, how things also came together for you? 

With that rearview perspective, can you see how the changing and shaking up of things, that experience of feeling like everything was falling apart was actually exactly what you needed to bring you to where you are today? 

To who you are with today? 

To make you into the extraordinary person you are today?

I can see that so clearly for you and I trust that it will be true again in these hard, shaky, scary, overwhelming times. 

I have trust and faith that things will come together for you and that it will all work out for the best, not because of some magical wishing, but because of who you are.

You show up and solve problems, one at a time, you make good decisions, one at a time. 

You do the best you can, and then you get up the next day and do it again.

You will get through these hard times because of who you are and because of how you are as you move through life.

And in time, maybe five years from now, or five months from now, I have faith you’ll be able to look back at this moment and see how it was actually a good thing.  

But remember: as you move through these hard times, even lions need to lick their wounds.

You can’t be strong all the time. It’s just not possible. No one is.

So in those moments when you need to lick your wounds, when you feel like you can’t go on, when you need someplace and someone safe to turn to, I hope you’ll let me be that person for you.

I love you, kiddo.

You’ve got this. 

And I’ve got you.

Warmly, Annie

Medical Disclaimer

Reader Interactions


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  1. Cait says

    I don’t normally read emails. I don’t read blogs. I’m going through the most distressing and difficult time of my life, which is saying a lot. On top of it, something horrible is happening to my very young child and the trauma combined with her trauma. I am strength, I have to be strength and sturdy and I feel like an elephant walking on eggs shells. I don’t know why but I opened the email with this blog post and started reading it to me, from me, and just started to SOB. I needed those words so badly and I needed to say them to MYSELF because I’m the only person I trust right now. Thank you for giving me the words to provide myself with love, validation, self-compassion and permission to just fall apart for a minute. Thank you. So much.

    • Annie says

      Hi Cait,

      I’m very sorry to hear of all you’re going through right now. That elephant walking on eggshells is a feeling that I know many of us are familiar with. I’m so pleased that my words were able to provide just a little bit of the comfort you so richly deserve. Please take such good care of yourself, you’re so worth it.

      Warmly, Annie

  2. Karon B says

    Wow! Thank you, Annie, for this perfectly timed blog post.
    When I read, “so that you can cultivate your own inner good enough parents, imaginal resources you can call upon in the absence of flesh and blood support when life gets tough,” I realized that I am not the only one to have “imaginal resources.” Those imagined people who encourage and support me are one of the biggest reasons I am where I am today.
    So many of your emails contain the support and encouragement that I have needed on this journey of healing. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with so many people you may never meet. You are doing an amazing job, “kiddo.”

    • Annie says

      Hi Karon,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I’m so glad that this post felt helpful to you and hopefully offered a bit of the support and encouragement you deserve. Sending you my very best.

      Warmly, Annie

  3. Melissa Gray says

    It’s incredible how personalized this feels. I thought my hard was over. But it’s not. And at 42, I’m tired. Different tired. The type of tired that is tired of being alive, but when I read this – I felt seen. I felt known. It’s so hard to accept how other people see me as so talented and so incredible when I can’t see it, accept it, or feel it and yet reading this post made me flirt with the idea that part of it is true. I’m tired of finding myself here again. It’s paralyzing. It’s scary. And I have no one but me. My four daughters deserve so much more and even though the youngest is 15 and oldest 19 … and we made it out of the first hard … I wasn’t prepared for part 2. Yet here I am. And this time -I don’t have the ability to hide it. All I know is I desperately wanted them to have a different story than mine but I’m afraid I gave them the story I tried so hard to change for the sake of them. And idk reading your post … it gave me hope. That just maybe they will live lives that they’ll be seen and known and not living outside the snow globe like me.

    • Annie says

      Hi Melissa,

      Thank you for taking the time to comment and for your vulnerability in sharing your story. I know life can be really hard, but please know that you’re seen and that there is hope. Your daughters are lucky to have you and you’re so worthy of being in that beautiful snow globe right along side them. Please take such good care of yourself, you’re so worth it.

      Warmly, Annie

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