I am very much a Pollyanna, always seeing the bright side and believing everything happens for a reason. It’s why I mesh so well with LYB since Lisa Berry and her crew share a sunshine-filled, can-be-done, just-take-a-breath-and-trust-the-universe perspective. But even I have to admit that there are moments in life when it just sucks...and Lisa agrees with me.
Sometimes it’s the really big things that shake your core and break your world: the death of a loved one, a cancer diagnosis, deep financial strain. Sometimes it's the little everyday frustrations piled over a night of minimal sleep: too much work and too little time, feeling like you’re the only one carrying the heavy load, kids having emotionally difficult days. Sometimes it’s just a feeling that takes over for no apparent reason, and you’re sitting in your car wondering why you really want to cry.
In that very moment, the honest to God truth is that it sucks. It just sucks.
It took me 38 years to get to the point where I could simply leave that fact alone. Before, I would immediately kick into high gear until I could find at least one reason why it was not entirely a bad thing. Now, my inclination is to just let it be what it is. When the moment passes, I can go back and re-frame the situation, but I let things burn out first because:
In experiencing more of life’s heartbreaks and stresses--and holding my friends’ hands through their pains, I have come to see that sometimes even the best intentioned positive spin can feel like the belittling of very real and valid feelings. I used to think the best friend immediately pointed out a more positive point of view. Now I feel the best friend makes space for all feelings--even the painful, uncomfortable ones--and does not try to question, challenge or contradict them until they have passed.
Lisa tells me this is the yogi way. In yoga, we are taught to stay present and breathe into the painful feelings instead of chasing them away. Yoga’s centuries-old wisdom was validated yet again by scientific research. Research highlighted in The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking and excerpted in a recent article on Time.com found that “bereaved people who make the most effort to avoid feeling grief...take the longest to recover from their loss.”
I am beginning to suspect there is even more. I suspect that by staying fully present and allowing our feelings to be, we may be able to avoid regret in the future. As the mother of a 3- and a 1-year-old, one of the comments I hear most often from parents whose kids are older is: “Enjoy every moment. It goes by so quickly. I so wish I had appreciated those days more.”
I welcome the unsolicited advice because I know it is well-meant and I can always use a reminder that these precious days fly by. But as someone who is in the thick of babyhood and toddlerhood, I also clearly see the challenges that make it difficult to embrace this stage with wide open arms.
Yes, my 3-year-old adores me and says the most enchanting things. When he smiles, his face lights up with a mesmerizing mix of purity and unadulterated joy. My one-year-old has the silkiest soft skin and is beyond squeezable. Her baby babble and her sense of wonder when she masters something new tickles me pink. I love that she lets out a little sigh of relief when she is back in my arms, as if she was holding her breath until she could return to me.
I am aware these are the days of innocence and unadulterated love. But in between hundreds of happy moments, there are dozens of crippling ones that feel like they are draining all self-possession out of me.
Of course, I recognize my good fortune in having these two healthy children that I can provide a good life for. I am eternally grateful for this. But my feelings of defeat are also real. And I wonder if by not sugar-coating the sucky moments I will be able to look back at the full picture and not berate myself for not sinking further into this time in my life.
And so, if you are experiencing something that sucks or are simply filled with sucky feelings, think of us and know that we get it. As all things pass, this will pass, too. It is then that you can look back and analyze, be grateful for what you do have, distill the lesson of the moment, and plan a course of action. But in the moment, be gentle with yourself and know that we’re holding space for you to just be.