You can see someone who is receiving good things in their life and how positive their attitude is, and envy them because they can be positive due to always getting “blessed”. That’s an easy reaction. You can allow yourself to become even more bitter at your own lot, and all the things you wish were happening that aren’t. You can begrudge them all of their joy and their triumphs, and belittle their effort to remain positive even when they aren’t having the best stretch. You can tell yourself that their life is better because they came from a family that was well off, or more mentally stable, or more loving, or more this and that. And you can choose to wallow in the pity that is so easy to get lost in. But remember that: it is a choice. It is something that you have to choose to do.
OR, you could look around and see that the people you know with their sunny dispositions and positive outlooks have good things come to them as a direct result of keeping their negativity at bay. I have never really bought the whole fad about positive thinking, to be honest. The more I open my eyes, though, the more it appears to be true. I have several friends who manage to remain positive in the face of trial and hardship. These are the very people whose lives I would gladly trade for my own, not because their lives are easy (trust me, I’m not so silly as to ever think that), but because they are strong enough to say “This isn’t fun, but I’m going to get out on the other side and be better for having survived”. They surround themselves with positivity and encouragement, and they refuse to fall down the rabbit hole of self-pity or self-loathing.
Saturday mornings are a good time for me. For one thing, I literally wake up every day during the week with the thought Just __ more days and you can sleep in. And on Saturday, I sleep in. Granted, I’m at an age where ‘sleeping in’ is no later than ten, but it does wonders. And when I wake up and my boss has texted me at seven, I get to text him back and say “HAHA, you really thought I was awake at seven, aren’t you adorable” without repercussion. For another, I’m usually alone with my animals. When I get done taking a shower, I dry my hair and then usually go sit in my bed to drink my coffee and protein shake while watching something (today it was Despicable Me 2), and it is inevitable that when I throw back the blankets, I’ll find Bailey curled up and affronted at my rude interruption. I always find that amusing. It literally never gets old. Charlie will be sun bathing in front of the back door, but as soon as he sees me he will follow me all around meowing until I feed him (even if he already has food). Also, Saturday is the day I weigh myself.
When I went through that very emotionally traumatic episode at the end of 2012 and had to move back home, I holed up in the basement for six months. I didn’t look for work. I didn’t have a desire to write (what a waste of uninhibited free time, though). I literally allowed myself to fall off the face of the planet, because I couldn’t deal with anything. Naturally, I gained a lot of weight. As of today, though, I have not only lost all of that weight but I’m actually lighter than I was four years ago, and steadily losing. It’s encouraging, and I have one of my best friends to thank (repeatedly) for not only coaching me through this, but also encouraging me and keeping me on target when I want to say UGH BUT WAFFLES. Even with all the tumult in her own life, she takes the time to be there for me. She’s been in and out of surgery and her mom was recently diagnosed with cancer, but you wouldn’t know it. She’s an absolute ray of sunlight in a world of darkness, with positivity shining right out of her pores, and she’s my inspiration every day. She is the strongest person I have ever met. There are times when I envy her, but I know that I could never withstand the trials that she has come through in order to be as strong as she is. I would have broken.
Which leads me to…
Never belittle another person’s struggles. What seems like a mole hill to you is an absolute mountain to someone else. We each have our strengths and weaknesses, and who are you to say that someone’s burden isn’t as heavy as they say it is for them? You see someone struggling with something you feel you could gladly bear, but to them it’s no less difficult that your own issue with whatever you think is too much for you to handle. Comparing one another’s battle scars is so obsolete when things are always relative. And while this is meant to be a reminder that we are all struggling, it also depresses me a little.
Ultimately, and precisely in the deepest and most important matters, we are unspeakably alone.
Rainer Maria Rilke says this in Letters to a Young Poet and it has stuck with me. It’s why I have such a very hard time opening up to people about my deepest, most troubling feelings; I know no one will fully understand. A person would have to live every moment in my shoes in order to fully grasp the fullness of my feelings, and that isn’t possible (nor would I ever want that for anyone). It is a loneliness I have kept for years. I have always, always marveled at other people’s ability to open themselves up to another person and pour themselves out. I have always envied it, truly, because even if they aren’t fully understood, they at least felt that they could trust another human to interpret their feelings fairly and be a good steward of their emotions. I am shrouded in secrets. I have built walls rather than bridges, and I now sit in a room I have made for myself that has no doors or windows. My loneliness can devour me at times. It isn’t the kind of loneliness that begs for a boyfriend or husband. Just a friend. Someone who will take the time to unfold my many layers one by one, taking care not to rip the paper thin and delicate folds, never giving up in spite of how hard I will fight them at every step.
Please, it’s important that you don’t misinterpret me here. I have friends. I have friends who I am positive care for me very much, and I wish them no insult by suggesting otherwise. These friends have learned, though, that I can’t be trusted to always say just what I feel or think. I am constantly reserving my truths to avoid conflict or their displeasure. I appreciate that they respect my boundaries, but I just want (need?) one person who says fuck your boundaries, I’m coming in. Get over it.
Maybe, if I continue down a path of self-improvement, I will be worthy of that kind of determination some day.