When I was seven or eight or some naive age, I gave my dad a picture I colored of a rainbow, some rain, and a few clouds. In my childish writing, over the rainbow I wrote, "When it rains, look for the rainbow." It said that because it was a song I was singing in the school choir so it was plastered to my psyche even though I had no idea what it meant. My dad knew what it meant and he started crying. I was pretty freaked out by seeing a man cry, especially my dad. He saw how startled I was, called me over to him, said thank you as he hugged me and explained he was crying because he just needed to see that today. He needed to look for the rainbow. Since I couldn't Google what that meant I just shrugged and hugged him back. Whatever.
Then he left. It was a few years later but one day he was fuckin gone and I never drew him another picture or really ever hugged him in the same way ever again.
Yeah that's sad. But sad shit happens to people all the time and in many different ways. That wasn't even the saddest thing that's gone on in my life. I have a lot more of sad in my stack and I keep adding to my pile but so does everyone else.
There might be a rainbow after it rains but your dad is not coming back and your dog is still dead.
This week I needed to help someone up from their own pile of sadness and in the process I tasted, once again, what it feels like to be devastated and hopeless. It tumbled me back in time when taking a shower was only a place to rest my head and cry so no one could hear me gasping for breath. It's the kind of sad that pulls you downward, towards the ground, where you're sure you belong. It's the pain inside your chest that feels as if your heart is breaking. It isn't your heart though, it's your soul, and when your soul is challenged with despair it tells your brain a lot of fucked up things like, this is the end, you're done, there isn't anything else you can do, you've lost, give up.
When your dad leaves or your brother lets your dog out on purpose to get eaten by coyotes or you get cancer you can rest your head against the shower wall and let the water wash away your pain, or you can do what I told my mom to do when we found out she had stage 4 breast cancer:
Start smoking. Fuck that cancer. I told her to pick up a pack of smokes or some crack and just see how it feels. Why not? She spent her entire life doing what she thought she should do, what other people expected her to do. She didn't drink or smoke or cuss and she still got fuckin breast cancer. Doing what other people want you to do gives you cancer.
When life gets really shitty you can also go to a lot of bars and sleep with people you don't know well. That also washes off in the shower.
Some people do try to self-destruct when they're sad which is fine for a while, but in the long term it really only makes you sick inside and out and then it's time to try something else.
The advice I gave someone this week was based on the level of hopelessness I've felt when I thought I'd lost a piece of myself while living this life. It's the feeling when something happens and you know you'll never be the same and you can physically feel yourself getting smaller. The advice I gave came from a place within that is only available when you've been crushed inside and can literally only crawl up the stairs into bed and hope that the world isn't sitting on your chest when you wake up.
This is what I said:
I said, 'Fight.' You have to fight. You have to get fired up, you have to get mad. Anger and rage will lift you up to conquer the voice inside your head that tells you you're not good enough, smart enough, thin enough, pretty enough or sane enough. You have to fight to save yourself because you're the only one who can.
Then I said, 'Get Up,' even if it's only to look at yourself in the mirror and see if your shame, guilt, and sadness look as bad as they feel. Study the tears racing down your face and try to tell if they're making you older or wiser or both. But just, get up.
And I said, 'Talk.' Talk to people, tell the truth even if it makes you vulnerable, even if it scares you. Even if you cry. Tell your story and listen to the story of others. I know this because, I know. I know from my own stack of sadness, I know, I know, that there is someone who needs to hear how vulnerable you are so they can begin their own fight.
And if all else fails, try listening to Jimmy Eat World's song, "The Middle." Sing along. In the car. Flail. Works every time.
It will be
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