A few years ago, someone I've been estranged from for a long time reached out via email in a botched attempt to re-establish some sort of communication. Although hesitant, I responded. Thoroughly pouring out my heart, I took responsibility where I felt I should but also expressed all of my gripes. I laid it all out and left nothing unsaid. I shared that although I was now an adult, I was still working through a lot of childhood trauma that stood in the way of a positive relationship between them and I. It was the most raw and honest words I'd ever written and it took a lot of courage to put it all out there. I later received a text from them with a picture of starving African children that read: "This is trauma". I knew at that very moment that it was over. This person that had given life to me and also hurt me in more ways than one, refused to accept any responsibility. They would never validate my feelings because they were simply incapable of it. I realized that, for my own well-being, they just couldn't be in my life. Ties had to be cut for good. While I realize that not everyone will choose to completely cut off the toxic people in their lives, I want to tell you that you are validated. What you feel is real. Your pain should never be dismissed, diminished or downplayed, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem to the other person. It's so important to remember that we all feel things differently. We all process and absorb differently. What someone may cruise through in life could absolutely destroy another. I, for one, could never relate to the suffering of starving African children. I can't even fathom. But that does not mean that I cannot, in my own way, hurt as well. Learn to validate yourself. Learn to recognize when you've been wounded. Learn to take the steps necessary towards your own healing. Learn to identify the sources that injure you. That way when someone tries to convince you that you've made it all up in your head, you'll know better. And remember, you do not have to prove your trauma to anyone. It is real and it is yours. End of story.