Why Don't We Tell Each Other the Bad Things?

Monday, September 6, 2021

Sometimes I wish it were acceptable to just, like, ask everyone for their absolute worst life updates. We all feel so inclined to give the good updates — I'm enjoying my new job, we'll start looking for houses again soon — & it just doesn't feel appropriate to give the bad ones. 

Don't you kind of feel like it would be helpful, though? To know? 

Sometimes, when you're the one going through the muck, it can be all too easy to feel like you're alone in struggle. Sure, we know, in theory, that everyone is going through something; "Be kind," Mother Theresa taught, "for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." 

But when everyone is doing such a damn good job of hiding their battles, it can feel like you're the only person in the world who's floundering. 

So here's the truth: I'm not doing great.

Yes, I am enjoying my new job, & yes, we will start looking for houses again soon. All of that is exciting. I've spent some really nice weekends out of town this summer, both in Mount Vernon with my mom & up at Port Clinton with both her & Mike. Things are going all right.

Except for the things that aren't.

Right now, a lot of those things are health-related. And I feel like I can't control a damn one of them.

My left knee is in an immobilizer brace, tending to a patella that's sitting slightly out of place & causing excruciating pain& a lot of swelling. I start PT this week.

My March bout of COVID-19 brought on thyroiditis that caused hypothyroidism, & now I'm on medication to replace my thyroid hormone for the foreseeable future.

I got some bad news from my reproductive endocrinologist; suffice it say that all is not well with my reproductive system. Things are extremely out of whack, & I am, well, devastated.

Along with the fertility news came some news about my overall health, something I never saw coming but will be dealing with for the rest of my life. Sorry that's cryptic, but the Internet doesn't need to know everything.

...which is exactly why I wish it were OK to ask friends for all their worst news. It just feels so lonely to feel like you're coping with the bad things all by yourself. 

I feel so overwhelmed, so sad, so stressed. And then I look at social media & think, "Look how perfect her life is! And hers, too! Look how pretty she is. Look how adorable his baby is. Oh, & look at how successful they've become."

Look, look, look. Look at everyone else's life but my own. Look at how good everyone else has it, compared to how bad I feel right now. 

It's dangerous, but it's real. And it's emotionally obliterating.

But I also know, logically, that it's not true. I know — again, from social media — that other people are dealing with different terrible, stressful things of their own. I know this friend's son was born with leukemia, & that one is dealing with PTSD, & another has lost multiple family members to COVID. I know someone has a toxic boss & someone else has emotionally abusive in-laws & another was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

I know it's not just me. 

I know that this is how life works.

But that doesn't make it feel any less alienating, any less sad, any less lonely when you're in the thick of it.

I know, too, that the painful parts of life ebb & flow, that just because someone else's life looks perfect now doesn't mean it was a year or two or five ago, or that it will be in another year or two or five. I may be in a downswing while someone else is in an upswing; at any given time, those positions could shift. 

I've been lucky for the last few years in that life has been really, really good, one big upswing. For a while, there was nothing bad on the horizon, all smooth sailing. Things are different now — but I just need to keep reminding myself that we're still lucky, that life is still good, that health problems don't define me, even if they change me.

There are rare times in our lives when we can see the delineation between what was then & what will be now, when the future marks itself so clearly from the past. And in the intermediary, we get stuck in the present, in that in-between space when we're still mourning what we had & not yet used to living with what we have now instead. 

For me, this is one of those times — & just because I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel right now doesn't mean it isn't there. It just means I haven't yet traveled far enough through this particular tunnel. 

"Press on regardless," my dad used to say. Some days it's the only thing getting me through — but it's enough. 

1 comment:

April Blake said...

I think a lot of it is people thinking their bad thing is too much for one person to hear, or not THAT bad. I am freaking out about having to go back into the office for no reason, but then you read about the nurses and doctors and then it's like okay my problems are not that bad. So I don't share it very broadly.

But I agree with you overall. We need to be more comfortable sharing a more round version of ourselves, not just the fun cool milestone stuff like new jobs, new houses, etc.

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