There is the ongoing and sometimes unfortunate truth that life keeps moving without worrying about us or what we think, feel or have to say about it. Either way, life moves. Time is always gaining momentum and the pressures to “Be” keep mounting. In which case, words and helpful suggestions can become nothing more than superfluous noise. There is the ongoing and often unfortunate truth that life comes with heartbreak. Life comes with loss. There will be pain. There will be disappointment. There will be downfalls and setbacks, which come with no explanation, other than “It just didn’t fit.”
But goddammit and dammit all, sometimes.
Words have meaning. I get that. And I’m sure we all get this. I can say that words have different meanings. I can say that the denotation of a word is the actual meaning but the connotation is an associated and secondary meaning. I know what words mean to me. I also understand that interpretations vary. Opinions vary. So do taste and flavor. And emotions too. Being helpful varies because help is not always defined by the same connotation. Yet, we still try. we still look to help. We look for the right things to say.
Sometimes, there are no words. Sometimes there are no explanations. And sometimes trying to fix or find the right things to say are counterproductive. For example, take depression. Take substance or alcohol abuse and dependency disorders. Think about the different mental or emotional struggles we encounter. If mere words and support were enough to cure emotional challenges then we would never see another overdose. There would never be another suicide. If words always worked and if words always helped, there would never be a social ill because we would have the right words to say.
Love does not always conquer all. I know this because of the list of parents I’ve spoken with that lost their children to avoidable deaths. I know this because of the wives or husbands that watch as their family life dwindle because their husband or wife is unhappy. I’ve seen people wither away in long, sad, harangues and self-deprecating speeches that destroyed their sanity because yes, they were loved but the feeling they felt inside made love burn like poison.
And there is another word too, which comes to mind. The word is potential. As in, “But you have so much potential,” which is sharp because as someone that’s heard this before (in fact, I’ve heard this most of my life) telling someone they have so much potential cuts like a knife.
What does this mean?
Does this mean I am capable of better?
Does the fact that I have so much potential mean that I am failing myself?
Does this mean I’m being emotionally lazy?
Or, does this reflect the way I see and feel about myself?
All of the above questions are easily answerable. However, in the threat of personal crisis or in the depths of depression, supportive words about potential seems like a lost promise. It’s just gas; it’s just something smart people say or people in high or better positions to someone that seems so lowly.
I write this because this is true. I know this, not because I’ve seen things this way but because I am someone that has reached out to as many people as I could, just to hear their side of life. I’ve heard these sentiments shared by many others. In fact, I’ve heard similar content shared by those who’ve struggled with suicidal ideation, extreme anxiety disorders, both severe and mild depressive disorders, and yet, all of the subjects mentioned above affect the majority of our human population, which is fine so long as nobody talks about it out loud or addresses the elephant in the room. (We wouldn’t want to trigger or offend anyone.)
And why is this?
I had to learn to suspend judgement. I had to learn that someone’s thought process and/or crisis has nothing to do with me. This is about them. I had to learn that hard questioning can become frustrating and intrusive, which is why talking to people has to become a skill. And coaching or teaching this skill is not always welcomed in the public sector, which is unfortunate.
I have the truthful, yet unfortunate duty to report that for many people in this world, life can be a grim place. There are those who’ve tried so hard for so long; and to them, each day is literally a struggle. Each day, people that live like this have to find a reason to get out of bed and think differently. Otherwise, they give in and the internal narrative takes over. This is when the depressive thinking unravels and the anxiousness settles in. If this happens, there’s no way out. All one can do is hope for something to come along and act as a distraction to let the fear receptors calm down and rest.
I say this again because this is true and in need of mention:
In the history of calming down,
no one has ever calmed down
simply by being told to “Calm down!”
You cannot talk to hopelessness nor can anyone reason with irrationality. And, in fact, trying to do this when someone is overly emotional, in crisis, or struggling with irrational ideas is as problematic. This is as useless as trying to convince someone they’re not hearing voices; especially if they believe they’re hearing voices. This applies when dealing with someone in psychosis.
And truth be told, we all hear voices.
As I say this, I want to be clear. When I say we all hear voices I mean our internal voice. We all have our internal conversations, which can be out of control at times. There are voices of fear, which lead towards anxiety. There are concerns that stem from habitual thinking and biases. We have our conscious and subconscious programs which we live our life according to them. We act and behave on behalf of our trained choices and responses, which come from past interactions and experiences.
There are times when trauma and disappointments go unresolved and leave behind the ever-so-deeply embossed treads of shame or painful recollections and outcomes. There is our history, or our “Believed” history which is not always the same as our factual history. There is a great big world out there, which is drawn by both interpretation and misperceptions.
Over the years, I have received messages from people that read something of mine. And they tell me they understand. They tell me they know what I was trying to say. They thank me for expressing myself so openly. I appreciate these messages; however, I often shake my head at interpretations. I say this because quite often, their interpretation is different from my intention. And that’s fine. This only goes to show that we are all unique; and therefore, as unique individuals, we have the right to be who we are without shame, stigma or the need for explanation.
We all have life in front of us. We all have our own little things too. I have mine and you have yours. We have a core, which is us. We have our similarities and our inner workings, which is a science.
To each their own is abundantly true because to each is their own science, their own chemical makeup, their own pathology, and sometimes, to each their own means there are no words that can calm them down.
Sometimes there is no right thing to say. Sometimes listening and following directions is the most helpful idea. Following cues rather than overly trying can be helpful.
Taking this personally is unhelpful. Taking someone else’s emotions and adopting them as your own is unhelpful. Understanding that at the moment, there is no help except to allow someone to scream or cry or yell and rage. Sometimes, the most helpful things to say are better left unsaid. And sometimes, no matter what we say; it’s wrong. And I get that. Meanwhile, all we want to do is help. Meanwhile, we take it to heart and see this as rejection if we can’t.
The truth is life is unfair. It’s okay to say this. It’s okay to be in pain and it’s okay to NOT be okay.
We all experience crisis. We all go through heartbreak. Bad news hits us all. So do troublesome times, lonesomeness, depression, anxiety and the list goes on.
All we can do is keep it in the minute and find a way to let the fear receptors unwind.
All we can do is find a new purpose when the old ones fizzle.
And beware of attachments to outcome. They’re a bitch to deal with if the outcome doesn’t come true.
Believe me . . .