Why grief and being upset can be pretty awesome

1/16/2015

Why grief and being upset can be pretty awesome

I just had a really good cry, and man, do I feel better.

I don’t get why people think crying is such a terrible thing. It’s about as shameful as acne, if you ask me. Duh. We all cry, unless we can’t or we make a point of not crying. Even then, the feeling of starting over and giving yourself permission to grieve and then, start over really helps process things quickly.

Like, I could write about my life or the lives of others 24/7, all day, every day. I could watch the news constantly and stay plugged into the Internet like another outlet, but seriously, that stuff makes me miserable so often. To me, staying updated on the world is worth a certain amount of misery, but there is a reason I was clueless when I was clinically depressed: It made me too upset to know.

But yeah, sometimes the news makes me cry. Or really adorable movies or ones that are really sad. It doesn’t even have to be a good movie, okay? Whether it’s something sad a stranger shares or watching the movie Philomena (which I thoroughly enjoyed, and watched recently with my mom), I cry.

I am so utterly okay with that. Do you know what kind of a powerful gift being able to grieve with someone can be? It gives them permission to cry with you, and process what hurts. It’s understanding in salt water. It’s the simple act of acknowledging that you are human enough to care with them, and being able to demonstrate (whether you want to or not), that they aren’t alone. I love people, and although I don’t often like to cry, I like to cry with.

There’s something very distinct about each. If you cry with, you can make a dumb joke after and laugh with. But if you cry alone, just you, there is a certain amount of freedom that comes in acknowledging that your emotions are worthy enough to release just for the sake of making your own life a little easier to deal with. Why would I be ashamed of being able to care for myself in that way? Not everyone can. It’s strength to be able to accept weakness, and I like to cry, even if people think that’s sick. I don’t care. It’s nice to be able to acknowledge that something sucks, if it really, really sucks.

I believe that in each emotion, there is good and bad. Happy isn’t always good; sad isn’t always sad, and for the life of me, I can’t tell you exactly what either of those are in the first place. Even emotions like Jealousy that are the seven deadly sins; I think they start from good emotions and shift into egocentric, self-inspired longings, which are defined by being destructive to one’s relationships with others, and most importantly, God.

Now, a lot of emotions that count as sin have aspects in experiencing something through another person, comparisons, and then, concluding that what you have is not enough. Which is absolutely stupid. God gives us each exactly what we need, and we can always ask for more, knowing in advance that he can decide to provide what we truly need however the hell he wants. That is basic. What isn’t basic is thinking that God is going to answer your prayers in a scripted, specific-to-your-ego way. I’m sorry, but he loves you way too much for that. He’s going to give you exactly what you need and probably take away whatever you were using to harm yourself, and often, you won’t even know it. When it comes to death, though, I don’t believe God kills people for fun or because he wants us to be miserable. It is as simple as “Death happens”. Whether or not it is a good thing, there is a certain amount of freedom in that, too.

But Happy isn’t just super fabulous. If you are like me, you may panic a little when you are happy and wonder how long it will last, as if you could possibly figure it out. You know what? I don’t think that is actually a bad thing.

I think the attitude we have about our feelings is much more telling than the feelings themselves; those are constant through each and every human (yay you aren’t alone!). But seriously. I can appreciate being upset for what it is and know that it doesn’t define me or my perspective. I can know it is temporary, and I will survive it. Or I can panic, raise my adrenaline, have a panic attack and over time, learn that isn’t the way I want to go. There is a reason Psychologists teach “mindfulness” and calming techniques; mindfulness helps you become aware of your surroundings and focus on non-stressful components of your reality when you are in distress, learning to be calm helps that. Those are skills that everyone needs to know, even if you don’t deal with intense forms of that daily. Odds are, you know someone that does or may seriously need that knowledge someday. Learning to trust your emotions and process them healthfully makes you an asset to those who love you.

If you want to live a more contented life, you have to accept that, exactly where you are. The hardest part about anxiety or patterns of thinking that put you in fight or flight is that the voice of PANIC makes you so blinded that you physically cannot choose to be better. Early in an episode of anxiety, you may be able to make it smaller, but a lot of the time, it is damage control. It’s not fair. It’s exhausting. Your brain hurts after.

But there is hope in being able to process your emotions well, and gain endurance over time. I like to think of it like having a personal trainer in the voice of the Holy Spirit. He’ll tell you to do 100 more pushups, and that is only this morning. But it’s good for you to have to struggle some, because it makes you stronger, even as completely unfair as that is. It sucks, but it’s true.

If you have a very well defined sense of how much things can suck and can process in a way that makes them stuck less, I get the feeling that makes you less likely to be bitter for long periods of time, because you can choose not to be miserable. I also think it must make you more grateful for happiness, and thus, more able to enjoy it more when you do experience it, in however much that may be. The whole point of having sin and grace, darkness and light, death and resurrection is that goodness could come from being completely miserable. You don’t have to be stuck that way, thanks Jesus. I am happy that sometimes things suck, because I know that I would be SO TERRIBLY BORED otherwise. I hate the same thing like I hate more than two days of leftovers; there’s got to be some sort of variety. But yeah, sometimes things really do suck. It can be that simple. It doesn’t cure, necessarily. But the knowledge that everyone passes through garbage even if it’s not explosive can make all the difference, for better or worse.

I like having a kaleidoscope of emotions that don’t control me. I have goals, and I love God; I’ll let that guide me. But no one said life was easy, in fact, they probably were up to no good if they told you that. Either that or they probably didn’t know any better. It’s okay to have hard times, because they make the rest of it sweeter, if you are able to accept that. And even if you can’t, maybe you will be able to someday. Or better yet, accept your own things you discover and learn from healing. Those will be priceless.

Have you ever seen teardrops dried onto a page of writing and have it not in a movie and have those be your tears? It’s a great feeling. I have journal entries that are stained with little bubbles of salt water dried into a ripple, and man, I love knowing that I survived all the salt bubbles. I love knowing that the salt bubbles don’t define me. I love knowing that my emotions were that vivid as a kid, because to me, that makes me fierce and intensely classy. I feel like I could be a ninja when I look at my journal entries, and I’m all like, “HOLY HELL that totally sucked, didn’t it? I forgot all about that. Lol. Good thing it’s funny now.”

You see, my emotions were just as real then, and I loved them then too, up until they pretty much engulfed me. Nah, that’s not true. I think 99% of my depression was just processing, and although I was miserable, a lot of that sadness was necessary to pass on to better things. I loved the feeling of a good cry then too, not so much when I was numb. But what the hell ever, this is how life happens. Could crying just be letting oneself be okay with weakness, even if you cry in public or at times that aren’t always perfect? I sure as hell hope so, because looking back, that’s certainly what it feels like now, now that I’ve accepted the fact that most people really don’t know what they are talking about.

You could have 1000+ credentials, but if you don’t have anything constructive to say to the kid that bursts into tears, please don’t keep practicing whatever thing you claim to do in order to help. Seriously. I can’t stress that enough. People can’t afford to pay for years of counseling or therapy or whatever if they don’t know that it will lead somewhere. Sometimes that means leaving the counselors office and doing something absolutely fun for just a little while so your brain can get a break. WHY do we charge so much for that? It’s utterly ridiculous.

Still, you can have as many professionals as you want and be completely miserable if you choose to be or you are just really alone. “Alone” is a feeling. It’s not “loneliness”; that’s more of a longing for what once was. “Alone” is catchall acknowledgement of some things that may never be, and it is usually cured by being around other humans, even if it’s just sitting and watching TV or playing a dumb card game. Company is more precious to me than any kind of therapy, because I know I’ll figure out my garbage eventually if I just keep going. I just like to be in places with other people, even if it’s just places like coffee shops. The activity; that buzz of company. I love it.

It’s funny, because most of the time when I crave company, I don’t even want to talk to anyone. I just want to go and sit, people watch a bit, and ease myself back into making an effort. Eventually I will talk to one of my friends about something funny or dumb because I miss talking to them, but I’d rather do that naturally once I feel better; not when I’m in that transition period. It helps to ease myself into changes like the beginning of new semesters of school, especially when I’ve become a benevolent hermit for a bit. The goal is being excited to start my classes (which will make or break how well I do for the rest of the semester). Thus, I’d like to be able to seek that genuine joy of learning how I need; whether I need time alone, time texting dumb things to my friends (for that reason only), or time holed up in coffee shops. To me, all of those things sound delightful. I may crave one more than another. Write now, I’m happy simply typing this. I may eat something with potatoes in it after I finish typing (lol). I know how to make au gratin potatoes out of fresh ingredients, mostly in the microwave now. It takes a little prep. Totally worth it.

But yeah, I don’t understand why any of us are ashamed of crying, or stress, or being upset or miserable, or being happy, or being silly, or being anything else. Some of it just is.

All the love,

Haley

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haleylol

I am a teacher-to-be who loves people. I am not afraid of many things. I like to explain my thoughts logically on a very birds-eye view level--I was born thinking that way. I follow Jesus Christ, and I accept only that label to describe my identity--that I am a child of God, as are infinite others, regardless of their other identities. Christ is my one thing.

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