There is someone I know, someone I care for a lot who is in a pretty dark, broken place at the moment. I am pissed off at the darkness, I want to wrestle it away for her. Her story isn’t mine to share so there are no names and no details. The circumstances no longer matter, they might have at some point but they are in the past and though she cannot see her future and though she is struggling with the present, I cannot give oxygen to what has happened in the past. I’m compelled to write about it because at some point, everyone, all of us, go through seasons where our sadness is bone deep. For her I want to normalise it, not to dismiss it but I know she is not alone even though she feels beyond lonely.
She looks at my life and those around her and she compares. I have my family, my friends, my work and my health so by all accounts it’s lovely and glorious. But of course I have my own stuff, my own anxieties and nothing in my life is perfect. Try as I might to make her understand this, make her see that comparisons are hollow and have no purpose this does not help. Her pain and her fear are in equal measure.
She has so much to be grateful for but this is a ridiculous and patronising notion for me to suggest. Gratitude is often considered the holy grail of happiness but it’s easy to be grateful when life is being kind to you. To suggest it to someone who is being treated so unfairly by the universe seems flippant. My controlling personality means that I want to swoop in and fix things for her. I download podcasts for her and insist she listens to them when probably I should be doing more of the listening to her. The source of my frustration comes from knowing her so well and that I know she is kind and smart, capable and funny. A brilliant mother and a good person. But she is a shell of herself and she sees none of this and I hate that she can’t be reminded of who she is. Try as I might to make her see this she is not in a place of understanding, she is too fragile and cannot yet see past the immediate pain and crap that she has been dealt. I hate that her confidence has been reduced to almost nothing and her ability to function day to day is compromised because she has lost the fearlessness she once possessed.
But here is what I want her to know. This is what we need to remember when life tosses us around like a salad and the sadness punches you in the stomach and takes your breath away.
- It’s okay to feel broken. You don’t have to be grateful when you feel like shit. That all emotions including the sad ones are real and important and sometimes you just need to sit and be in that space.
- Nothing is permanent and much is temporary. Turia Pitt so perfectly and bravely speaks about this. I can’t remember if it was her book or a podcast but she talks about this in reference to the very early part of her survival, when she was in hospital getting her bandages changed. She would remind herself that her pain, her immediate situation, all of it was temporary. She further explains that the fire was just 5 minutes of her life and that she refused to let 5 minutes define and dictate the rest of her life. Seriously, this woman is the most extraordinary human and if only we could have half her strength and resilience.
- There is nothing wrong with you. You are human and with this comes joy and sorrow and sometimes they co-exist and other times it is just sorrow. Occasionally, we get lucky and there are times often nothing but joy and light. Apparently we have to feel all the emotions, including the really shitty ones so that we can learn how to be hopeful. In theory that sounds okay but in reality it is a painful lesson.
- You are the same person that you were before you fell down the dark rabbit hole. You will be that person again. But stronger.
- You are not alone. I don’t know how and I don’t know when but we will get through this. Together. As humans we are not meant to withstand the weight alone and you don’t have to either.
- Everyone screws up. It is impossible to get through life without doing so. It’s a societal issue that we aren’t very good at sharing our failures. We hide behind them as though they are shameful, we side step our vulnerabilities for fear of being found out. Sure life should be about celebrating our wins but that doesn’t mean that we can’t admit our faults or that we’ve screwed up for fear of being judged. As Carrie Bradshaw once wisely stated “maybe our mistakes are what make our fate. Without them what would shape our lives.”
- Your circumstances are just that. You cannot, should not, be defined by them because they aren’t who you are.
And lastly this, when things are right again, and one day they will be, then for all that you have been through, you will feel the good stuff a little more deeply than before. This I know to be true and somehow you have to believe this.
You don’t have to know how it will be fine, you just have to know that it will be. You have a spirit that is courageous and tenacious.
You are okay. You will always be okay.