Within the last few weeks, life has been sucky for so many of my friends. If everyone’s psyche had a voice, the world would be drowned in a sea of hopelessness. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I find that when someone else isn’t feeling all that great my emotions tend to head in that direction. If you’re a long time reader of my blog, you know that I have had and continue to have moments of severe depression. It’s not something that ever really goes away, but it gets easier to compartmentalize. Think of my brain like a pie, separated into various emotion slices. Mmmm cranial pie.
I can’t elaborate on the different things that my friends are going through as this isn’t about just one experience. Also I know that some of them read this and don’t want them to think that I am airing their dirty laundry. It is a myriad of experiences that range from things you cannot control to decisions you loathe to make. The common denominator is pain.
Whether it is emotional or physical, pain is incredibly hard to deal with. I can only speak for myself, but when I am in pain I want to lash out. I want to scream. I want to cry. I want to hurt something/someone else. I think a part of me knows that once I do something destructive there is an amazing rush of adrenaline and that’s what I’m looking for. I’m looking for the change in sensation or the complete numbness that often happens. After spending two hours in a panic attack, the only thing I want the most is the opposite of how I’m feeling and I will do anything to get myself there.
Watching someone else deal with pain can also be painful. You don’t want someone you care about/love to go through anything horrible. Especially if it’s not a situation you can empathize with. Then anything you come up with in reply is just theory. You don’t want to meet up with a friend who is currently undergoing chemo and utter the words “I feel your pain” because you don’t. You really don’t. There is anxiety resulting from you trying not to say the wrong thing, then you get upset that you’re thinking more about yourself than the person that is suffering in front of you and it just spirals into a massive amount of panic and oh-shit-your-friend-has-been-talking-at-you-for-an-hour and you’ve been nodding and commenting but not actually paying attention to what they’ve said and OH GOD YOU ARE NOT SURE WHERE THE CONVERSATION HAS GONE AND THE NEXT PHRASE YOU ARE LIKELY TO UTTER IS “MAN, THAT SUCKS.” Yeah… Inner monologue is a run-on sentence. A douchey, self-involved run-on sentence.
Alternately, there have been moments where I have sat and listened to someone and have not been able to comment because it’s an experience I am not familiar with. Many times when listening to someone talk about their pain, I try to empathize by thinking about a time that I had felt that way. It kind of makes me feel like an asshole to admit that, but I think that it happens in everyone’s heads. You want to be able to try to understand the level of sadness that you are currently being confronted with so you know if you can fix it.
I have friends that will reply to an issue that I have with something slightly more depressing/painful they have experienced and I often get pissed off. It especially pisses me off if it’s the first thing they say after I say what it is that is bothering me. It is an immediate dismissal of my issue instead of an admission that what I’m going through sucks and they feel for me. A part of me would like to think that this is the person trying to relate, but if it’s a recent experience that has very little to do with the situation it most definitely feels like competition. I don’t want to compete to validate how I’m feeling. I don’t need to be told that what I’m feeling is right, but rejecting my pain is like offering me a shoulder and then shrugging continuously until I give up. I have a tendency to be bitchy to that person for the rest of the conversation and very rarely approach them in the future.
When I go to someone to talk and say “I need to vent” or “I’m having problems”, the WORST thing for them to do is to reply with how bad their life is. When I’m actually approaching someone and requesting comfort, it is very hard for me to comfort the other person, and the caregiver in me always wants to and my “inner mom” chastises me for being so selfish. That does very little in the way of making me feel better. It’s not that I wouldn’t listen to someone if they approached me about something or if we made plans because they needed to get away or said that they needed someone to listen.
It’s never been my point-of-view to push someone away when they’re looking for someone to talk to. I think that if someone is willing to approach someone to vent their frustrations, they are a lot stronger than they think they are during those moments. The ability to articulate how you’re feeling or to try to rationalize what it is you’re feeling is a lot better than letting it all bottle up inside.
Pain is not often tolerable, but here is an excerpt from Jim Butcher’s White Night. Harry Dresden is thinking about pain and gives his perspective of it. The entire passage is blisteringly brilliant and every time I read it, it brings me to tears. I don’t want to post too much of it though as I believe you should buy the book.
“Pain is a part of life. Sometimes it’s a big part, and sometimes it isn’t, but either way, its part of the big puzzle, the deep music, the great game. Pain does two things: It teaches you, tells you that you’re alive. Then it passes away and leaves you changed. It leaves you wiser, sometimes. Either way, pain leaves its mark, and everything important that will ever happen to you in life is going to involve it in one degree or another.”
How do you deal with your sadness/other people’s sadness? Please leave a comment below.
But Wait! There’s More!
Whenever I’m planning to write about something, Allie Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half beats me to it and does it far better than I can ever hope to accomplish. It truly figures that I planned to write about the change in seasons and the general melancholy that follows it, she would post for the first time in five months. Please, please read it. Her illustrations are amazing.
Links to the Things I Talked About in this Post