“It gets better.”
I’ve heard this a lot over the years but have had a lot of trouble believing in it. Why?
Well for starters, you can read the previous blog entry in this series for one answer to that single question of why. But there is a second answer that I’ll go into here.
For as long as I can remember, I feel like I heard ‘no’ more often than ‘yes’. I feel like I’ve been discouraged more than encouraged. And I’ve also felt like I’m a world-class asshole-magnet, too. What this did to me was two things:
1) Make me feel like I couldn’t do anything ‘normal’ or I’d fall on my ass.
2) Make me feel like if I found something to do that I liked, that I was wrong in feeling that way.
The first came from ‘well-intentioned’ people. These were people in my life who told me to take it easy, to not get worked up, and just sit down and be quiet. They said they just didn’t want to me to get hurt but here’s the thing: they really weren’t there when I did get hurt, and although I kept so much of that to myself, if they really cared they would have tried to push past my silence.
As I look back on my childhood especially, I’ve wanted to say to the past: “Where in the hell were you when I came home to an empty house after a shitty day at school, a day where I probably literally fell on my ass (I did that a lot in P.E. class because I’m not athletically-coordinated at all)?” I felt like no one wanted to hear how I’d kept my shit together after being humiliated in front of everyone, and how I’d kept my shit together and told no one about the enormous amount of bullying I endured because I didn’t want to be labeled a troublemaker or tattle-tale.
But what I’ve learned over the last few years is when I kept silent about my pain, I also kept silent about my joy and happiness, too. Because when I expressed this it didn’t always go well either. Yes, I had people shit on me for being happy.
And before I go any further here I just want to say this: not everyone in my life was shitty to me. I’m just calling out the shit-heads here, the people who were thoughtless and insensitive to show the damage that was done.
Because of this silence, I began to feel like I didn’t have a right to be happy. This got really bad in my twenties when I became a caregiver to my mother. I felt like I had no right to a life of my own and I later learned that my parents got shit for letting me live at home, work, and pursue my writing. And I knew that shit was being said behind my back so that’s why I fought to keep so much of my personal shit to myself. I felt enormous guilt for doing things for myself that I shouldn’t have. And because of that, it’s taken me so damn many years to see through this and work to fix the damage inside of me.
This is why I am suspicious as hell when things feel like they may be going in the right direction for me. It’s why I begin to think that I’m going to get the shit kicked out of me if start to believe in the good of this world coming to me. But one thing I have let go of is this: the belief that someone will come along and try to kick the good life out from under me. Granted, I’ve had to become a hermit to destroy most of this belief but it’s been worth it.
Things don’t just better by themselves. I am beginning to truly understand that they get better when you believe they will despite previous shit in your life telling you otherwise. I am also beginning to believe that things can get better when you knuckle down and work to make them better, and to take advantage of opportunities that come your way, too.
My goal in life has never been to be defiant, or angry, or confrontational. My life goals have been to do good in this world and help people whenever I can. And feeling good and believing in good is not an act of defiance or confrontation, and I sure as hell don’t need to be angry about it.
So my advice here is this: believe in the good of this world and when it comes to you, make the most of the good that comes your way, and if someone has a problem with that tell them to stick that where the sun doesn’t shine.