Social media is buzzing with the latest on This Is Us and I have no idea what everyone is talking about. I not only don’t watch it, but I also don’t watch other dramas or really anything with intense scenes. Honestly, sometimes even Disney movies are too much for me.
I know. I probably sound a little crazy and out of touch. I definitely feel a little out of touch with most of the entertainment world. I haven’t always been this way. Growing up I loved movies that had a lot of action and drama. My favorite shows were all of the Law and Orders and every medical drama I could find.
Then, slowly, something happened. It started sometime during college when I began my journey as a social worker. I stopped being entertained by these shows and instead became traumatized. Truly traumatized.
As an intern, I would come home from my shift working with victims of domestic violence, my heart breaking and needing a way to cope. Taking a bath? Helpful. Going on a walk? Also helpful. Turning on a comedy? Yes! But watching something that turned my empathetic self into a complete mess? That was not healthy for me.
These feelings only increased once I had children. I became pickier about what I watched, and it became increasingly difficult to find shows my husband and I could enjoy together. There was a time I would force myself to watch popular shows just because I felt the need to for some silly reason.
Then, my daughter passed away.
After we lost our daughter, I couldn’t watch anything for a very long time. I did not listen to music, read, or turn on the television. It all felt too trivial.
Eventually, I was ready to numb out a bit and I turned the TV back on. But everything was triggering. When someone died on a show, it felt like a punch to the gut. I knew it was pretend but death was all too real for me. My life was falling apart; why would I want to watch someone else’s life fall apart for fun?
It has been almost 16 months since our daughter died, and I still feel this way. For me, television can be used as an escape. I watch a show to relax, decompress and take my mind off my thoughts. I want to watch plots that make me laugh, or at least smile a little bit.
But shows with fighting, violence, and death? I just cannot do that anymore. I’ve stopped forcing myself to watch anything that makes me uncomfortable. I don’t need to prove some type of emotional strength to anyone.
I don’t say this to judge those who can handle watching hard topics; I know these shows are often based on true stories and they teach people things. This week’s This Is Us has brought awareness to the important issue of fire safety.
But I have always felt weird and isolated with the way I feel towards entertainment. However, hanging out in some social media mommy groups, I’ve learned I’m not the only one who feels this way. If you feel traumatized by media, it’s OK. It’s OK to need light and fluffy entertainment. It does not make you weak.
Life can be hard. It can be stressful and traumatic. Maybe you have faced assault and are triggered by all the current news or shows that deal with this topic. Or maybe you have a serious health issue and medical dramas are just all too real.
Maybe, like me, you have lost a loved one. Death is reality for you. Grief is your all day, every day. It’s hard to get off your mind. Your loved one is never far from your thoughts. You certainly don’t need a plot line to remind you of what the pain feels like.
Self-care is so important. Free time is rare, especially for us mamas. Use your free time to take care of you. If This Is Us feels good to watch, watch it. But if you are like me and prefer to binge on sitcoms and light reality shows, that’s OK too.
Now excuse me while I go watch Food Network.