Everyone, it seems, has an opinion of how I should be feeling and the word that describes how I should be feeling is ‘better’.
On one level it’s my fault, I am expressing my worries, my frustrations, and there is something in our Oprah-Dr.Phil-Tyra culture that when people express a problem, other people want to step in and fix it.
However, as I told my friend Kaylea the other day after I responded honestly to the question of how I was feeling (sad), I didn’t want to feel better.
Not in that moment. I just wanted to be there, in the moment with my sadness. And I wanted for her and for other people to be ok with it.
The past two years have been emotionally difficult. People who I considered friends proved in one way or the other that they weren’t worthy of my friendship. I’ve moved four times (my own choice) and I find myself feeling both lonely and wary of relying too heavily on friends, of allowing people to get too close because of the events of the past year. I thought I knew what I wanted out of career/life/ love and I had a lot of that upended; I’m still sorting through the wreckage.
I need time and space to heal, the beautiful comfort of routine, physical space to breathe and a break from the day-to-day worries of things like impending student loan bills. It’s space I’m not getting because I don’t really have my own space in my parents’ house, and without the structure of a job, I’m finding it really hard to create a routine.
It’s funny, I used to want nothing more than to be self-employed, and now I want nothing more than a job. Unemployment is isolating, both because it means I lack the weak social interactions that most people get at work, and because so much of socializing in New York involves spending money that I don’t have.
And maybe, maybe, I should be handling it ‘better’, maybe if I had the right attitude/religion/spiritual level of enlightenment I could glide through this period of uncertainty with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.
But I’m not that person.
I’m just me, funny, quirky, imperfectly beautiful me. Happy one minute, close to tears the next. And telling me that other people have it ‘worse’ does nothing but add a layer of guilt (and egoism) that I don’t really need right now – I am not a naïf – I’ve seen starving children with distended bellies, I’ve worked with teenagers who had been so abused by the adults in their life that they found a hug as threatening as a shot gun. And while I have enough clarity to recognize that I have the ability to get myself out of this situation that those people did not, the sort of logic that says one should not feel bad because others have it worse would mean that we wouldn’t take a single step to improving poor performing schools, reducing violent crime rates, or improving nutrition: why does it matter if that person is malnourished when somewhere in the world someone else is starving?
If I had a broken leg people wouldn’t tell me to get up and start dancing; they’d accept that it takes time to heal and even once it healed it would be awhile before I could go for a hike.
Emotionally, this past year I’ve been hurt, and it’s going to be awhile before I can start dancing. I get up, I keep moving, I do what it takes to get me to better, but I’m tired of pretending that I’m there.
Cause I’m not, yet. So please don’t ask me to be.