Life is pretty tough sometimes. There are so many variables that we can’t control, and sometimes it feels like we screw up the ones we can. People know about the addiction, the job losses, the diagnosis, the anger. They don’t know about the internal world. They haven’t heard about the fear, the hurt, the greed, the guilt. They don’t know about the thoughts that keep a person up at night, dreading a new day full of uncomfortable interactions with people. They don’t know of the longings to feel loved and accepted, or about the memories that make the soul sad. And so much more. It’s this internal world that remains so unexplored, but it feels like it’s slowly killing us not to deal with it. So it gets dealt with, often in ways that lead to even greater pain.
It could always be worse. Just turn on the news. Famine, Fire, and Fear of death all over creation. I better not tell anyone, they’ll just think I’m looking for attention. They’ll just think I’m weak. But everyone seems so happy. Could this really be true? Am I just doing it wrong? Things seem to affect me more than they do my friends and family. There must be something wrong with me. I need to find out what this “just suck it up” means, because it seems to be working for them!
Ten statements, Ten thoughts, Ten seconds. Stay on any one of these rabbit trails and within 30 seconds you’re guaranteed to feel pretty terrible about yourself and about life. It’s amazing just how quickly our mind can process such matters. Our mood can shift for an entire day based on the consumption and digestion of just one negative thought. Left unattended, these negative thoughts can turn into beliefs, and the beliefs into shame.
Goodbye, confidence, self esteem, dignity.
Maybe you’ve tried to be honest when someone tosses out the standard “How are you doing?” in your direction. Maybe they were really compassionate and you felt free to share with them something that was bothering you. Those moments are gifts, and the givers, saints. More often though, we stick to the script. It’s hard to answer honestly, because if we were in their shoes, we wouldn’t know what to do if they answered with anything other than “doing fine, thank you” or “I’m good, and you?” Let’s avoid the awkward, please! Or perhaps the roles were reversed and now you regret even asking how they were doing because you’re late to pick up your kids from school and you can’t afford to be standing in aisle 7 listening to Dave complain about his life again!
Relationships are so hard! Familial ones, intimate ones, collegial ones. It feels like there should be more, like this could be so much better if we just tried a new way! But we all have busy lives and everyone does well just to be good people and take care of their families the best way they know how. So we best not burden them.
And so we feel alone. Insignificant. Unworthy of someone’s time and attention. We close our eyes as we put the keys in the ignition. At least the routine feels comfortable.
One deep breath.
One forced smile.
Heading out to fake our way through One more day.
I want to invite you to find someone who will let you put the smile down. Find out what it means to have your thoughts and feelings attended to. I’m not promising you any answers to your questions, a saved marriage, or a fool proof way to beat your addiction. I’m inviting you to an authentic relationship that just may translate into a more meaningful life experience for you. It isn’t always easy, and it will probably be disruptive. I hope it is. And I hope that entices you all the more.