Just sharing a couple of things I’ve read and loved lately, and maybe, if you’re going through a tough time, they’ll give you a little peace, too…
One of my resolutions for the new year was to live my life and not compare it so much to the lives of others. As I’m sure you can imagine (babies! everywhere!) this is really difficult. But I love this advice from Carolyn Hax:
How do I stop the “Woe is me!” voice in my head? My best friend is expecting, and another good friend engaged. I’m going through a rough divorce and major depression (I’m being treated). Their happy news makes me feel terrible about myself, which also makes me feel terrible. I want to be happy for them. I just don’t know how.
Depression puts everything through the “It’s all about me” funnel. Your friends’ happiness underscores your failures; their struggles are one more thing to worry about; your own bad news proves nothing in your life goes right; your good news proves that even good news can’t cheer you up; the bad weather is just the cosmos piling on; the sunshine is the cosmos flipping you the bird, rubbing beauty in your face. It is relentless.
But, more important, it’s not true. It’s a deceptive filter through which you receive (and everyone else with depression receives) the random, unrelated messages of the outside world. When you aren’t depressed, bad things don’t suddenly become good, but you’re able to see them as the isolated incidents they are, as opposed to elements of a vast conspiracy of pain.
Even if you know this — or just take my word for it — that won’t automatically render you able to cheer for your friends, but it’s a start. When you’re forced to process other people’s milestones, keep reminding yourself that neither bad feelings nor good ones are permanent. Celebration is a moment, as is grief. Everyone gets to happy points through miserable points of their own.
If you find that hard to believe, then force yourself to recall the times these friends have leaned on you. “Happily ever after” isn’t something that actually exists; it’s just lazy storytelling.
I suppose it’s theoretically possible for someone to get through life without genuine suffering (and not be a psychopath) — but would you even want to be that person, or be close to that person? Who has never felt emotional pain, who can’t sympathize with it, and who will never really know how good it feels to feel good?
This is not to glorify suffering but instead to celebrate the transience of all emotional states.
If step one is realizing that no one is living a fairy tale — even if it seems like they are because of Facebook, then maybe step two is embracing the richness and complexity that comes through grief and loss. From A Blog About Love, I found some quotes on happiness from the woman who developed the stages of grief. Here are a few:
“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose.”
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
The next time someone looks at me funny when I cry in public, I’ll just tell them I’m on a journey to becoming a beautiful person. A beautiful person with mascara running down her face.