Thursday, August 20, 2015

There Is No Competition

I’m having a really tough day/week/month/summer and I feel, every day, as though this might be the breaking point.  What would it be like to go completely insane?  What is it like to have a nervous breakdown?  Is there relief from the anxiety and the stress and the guilt?  Could a nervous breakdown really be so bad?  But who would take care of the kids and the house and the dog?

 

I’m going through hell, so, as the saying goes, I guess I’ll just keep going.  But it’s awful.  And it’s difficult.  And it hurts.

 

And then I read the news and see that three firefighters have died in a blaze not far from my hometown and people have lost their homes in devastating wildfires and I think, “What have I got to be upset about?”

 

The thing is, though, that it’s not a hardship competition.  Someone somewhere, indeed many someones, are having a much worse time of it right now than I am.  There are people starving, people engaged in war, people sick.  I don’t want to seem callous – because I’m not; I care deeply about the strife in the world and do my best to address it in small ways like charitable giving, educating myself and my children, and prayer – but the terrible suffering experienced by others doesn’t mean that what’s going on in my life is any less difficult and painful.  I know I am better off than so many.  AND, I know I’ll get through it, so it seems stupid to whine about it.  I feel guilty for even thinking of asking for help, whether of the tangible variety or in the form of prayers or good juju or whatever.  I worry that I’ll be judged and shamed.  I ask Tony for help but he has none to give, and then I feel even guiltier for burdening him with my agony.

 

But allow me to write it out again, in big, as much for myself as for anyone reading: THERE IS NO HARDSHIP COMPETITION.  Someone else’s hardship does not negate my hardship.  Having things better than someone else does not mean that I’m not suffering or that it isn’t FUCKING HARD to be me sometimes.

 

So today I’m putting it out there for the world to see: I’m having a tough time right now and I’d appreciate your help and consideration, in whatever form that takes.  And you, you beautiful person: your troubles are valid.  I am giving you permission to feel the full weight of your burdens without guilt today.

 

Let’s take the old “everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” aphorism from the source, The Homely Virtues by John Watson, Courtesy, 1903:

 

This man beside us also has a hard fight with an unfavouring world, with strong temptations, with doubts and fears, with wounds of the past which have skinned over, but which smart when they are touched. It is a fact, however surprising. And when this occurs to us we are moved to deal kindly with him, to bid him be of good cheer, to let him understand that we are also fighting a battle; we are bound not to irritate him, nor press hardly upon him nor help his lower self.

 

We all have burdens.  Instead of trying to outdo one another in the arena of suffering, how about we just deal kindly with those around us?

2 comments:

Tiffany Crain said...

Well said! You can only be in your own skin. You can empathize, but your emotions are still real for you in your circumstances. That doesn't mean you don't have your emotions because somebody else had stronger emotions, or trauma. There will always be something more or less in various ways! I concur!

Megan and Jeff Vogel said...

Hang in there - for what it's worth, you inspire me. I am going to get to one of those damn boot camp classes someday!! ;)