If I see one more inspirational quote that tells me adversity is good for me or that all I have to do is pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again, I believe I will scream so loudly they will hear me in Kathmandu!
“That which does not kill us
makes us stronger.”
The stand-up comedian responds, “Yes, but it almost KILLS US!“
There are so many ways life almost kills us. The responsibility of caring for elderly parents, a disabled child, a spouse. The burden of being a single parent. Discovering that the person you thought you could trust with your most precious heart turning out to be unworthy. Losing a loved one to illness or death, slowly or suddenly. Being worn down looking for a job or being in a job you hate. Fighting for our own lives when sickness strikes and doesn’t politely go away like it’s supposed to. All of the above happening all at once! Trauma, emotional dark pits, cascading series of unfortunate events. They happen. Life happens.
How strong are you feeling right now? Not terribly? Me neither.
Some days we just have to rage. Cry, whine, moan, pout, eat ice cream right out of the carton or whipped cream straight from the can.
Lowering expectations sucks but that is exactly what has saved me from becoming a depressed bitch of the first order. While dealing with my chronic illness, it’s been a struggle to give myself permission to take a break from Facebook and Twitter, to let the writing go fallow for a few weeks, to not exercise or count calories every single day, let my husband take over the cooking, not answer every email or voice mail the minute it hits the in-box, to not read the book club selection (Columbine, for God’s sake! A great book, very well written, but jeez!). The hardest thing is to take a break from judging myself.
When I manage to remember to practice a little self-compassion I can feel my body melt a little, even relax. “Thank You!” it seems to gasp. How could I not realize how tensed up I was?
You might say I have no choice but to stop since my brain on prednisone is alternately scattered to the winds or depressed. But I DO have a choice, every day, every hour, every minute. I’d rather feel the peace of accepting that which I cannot change than the grinding, tectonic friction of anger and guilt. I’m not always successful. So what? I’m not perfect and I don’t necessarily think anger is always a bad emotion. Sometimes anger is righteous.
It’s just that anger held on for too long will inevitably backfire on us and who wants that? Besides, holding on to anger is exhausting and I do not have the energy to spare.
Your burden, I do not doubt, is more complicated, more entrenched, harder to detach from, than mine. But this I know. You are doing your best. It may not feel like it to you, but you are. I know you are.
In order to live long enough to get to the ‘makes us stronger’ part of the quote we must accept that we are good enough, we are worthy enough. Now! Today! If you can’t believe this for yourself then hear me. I will believe it for you. For all of us.