You know when you’re so bummed out that you feel physically ill, like you might explode with some awful combination of vomit and tears at any moment? Small errands like running to the grocery story or getting your nails done seem suddenly weighted, as if you’re fighting against life, rather than simply rolling along with it. I’ve been steeped in this life-cloud for a few days, like I have plenty of times before—though, as always with this douchery, it feels like the freshest of wounds.
For better or worse, I’m of the mindset that everything happens for a reason, with the caveat of: if you search hard enough for that reason. So, I’ve been digging relentlessly to try to find it, looking inside myself with the hope that I’ll figure out what this little hiccup wants to tell me, what I can learn. Clearly, our self-help society has had its way with me, with corny/comforting/but-mainly-just-infuriating messages like “pain is beautiful” settling into my blood like glucose.
But it’s not fucking beautiful, not when you’re in it at least. Maybe three months down the line, when other dark spots have descended on my life, and this situation looks quaint in comparison—but not right now. Right now—carrying around a giant letdown—just feels shitty, even shameful. When I’m not beating myself up for being naïve or pathetic or for not being able to sniff out shitty people in advance, I’m railing against someone else for wasting my time and deluding me. There’s no logic here, obviously—it’s pure, senseless emotion.
And that’s usually the case in blue periods, which most of us know, though experience tells me that that knowledge doesn’t really help us shake these moods any faster. What does work is probably a little different for everyone, though time is certainly the main ingredient.
I choose to write, because when I write it often feels like a little death: writing someone or something out of my life, and getting the tiniest chunk of that heavy feeling off my chest. Things lose a certain power over me once they’re out on the page, especially a page placed before an audience. This is a tricky release, of course, because if what you’re coping with involves anyone else, there’s the inevitability that they’ll stumble upon your vulnerability all ripped open and ready to pick at. It’s outwardly risky, but personally rewarding—I tend to choose the latter, knowing that my kind of people won’t be put off by it. Separating flowers from the weeds, or whatever.
The gloominess and the embarrassment (after all, I’m not starving, no one died, I’m doing pretty damn well by most standards) that come with these phases still hang around for a bit, but their presence is a little less felt–the negativity begins to fade away so that you can laugh at yourself, and move forward. You’re more likely to find those proverbial “reasons” for your pain once this happens, too…reasons which, though often involving others, tend to be exacerbated by our own rotten roots.
Somewhat masochistically, I enjoy this (or, at least, the results). No, reflecting on how fucked up we all individually are, and why, isn’t exactly pleasant, but I can’t imagine being someone who stumbles through life without doing so. Road bumps make me want to do better, be better, and surround myself with better people—the best way to figure out how is to trace the old cracks and try not to recreate them. Being a person who feels feelings on the same scale as the Energizer Bunny, I consider this a very healthy reaction, because the other one—lying in bed all day to the tune of my most morose music and counting all the things I hate instead of sheep—well, it’s not exactly productive.
But I’ve had to succumb to the reality that these important epiphanies rarely happen right away. Sometimes you just need a week of self-pity and utter confusion—those weeks are normal, super HUMAN [not superhuman]. Things fall apart, and they fall apart again, and my instant reactions will rarely be the neatly packaged, Zen ones (with clarity and cool-headedness by my side) that I aspire to. Nope, they’ll be messy, at least on the inside—I might feel perpetually nauseous, or convince myself of insane things, like that I like Hamlet or Shakespeare in general (#miserylovescompany). My thoughts will probably verge on those I had in pre-K, though I’ll resist the urge to full on temper tantrum, keeping the “But I want it!” whining to myself.
There’s nothing cool or sexy about these moments—unless, like me, you find being realistic about how incredibly warped life is (and how many facades we’re all putting on) to be cool and sexy. I used to rail against not being able to be my best self during these times, or wonder angrily why I suddenly felt so weak. Those concerns still pop in and out, but I’m trying, at least, to cut myself a little slack, turn the volume down on that inner-critic, and simply sit in life’s shit for a little bit.