Sometimes things are just a bit shit, aren’t they?
And there seem to be three ways that we generally deal with that situation:
Focus only on the shit, and become unable to see any good left in anything and start sinking.
Blindly ignore the shit and try to jolly along even though it’s like wading through treacle.
Acknowledge the shit and then try to work out how to get through it.
So, so many of us default to Option Two just because we think it’s the only acceptable option. Often we encourage others to by jollying them along, encouraging them to ‘look on the bright side’. Sometimes we do Option Two so much that the treacle gets in our boots, weighs us down even more and it leads us to number one.
If you have a few more minutes, let me tell you a quick story:
My Mum had a stroke a few months ago. Physically she has made amazing progress since – she’s not wheelchair bound as expected; in fact it’s a battle to get her to use her walking stick. It’s meant that she can go out and do things and I’ve posted photos on my personal facebook page about her amazing progress. People have virtually cheered her along and assumed that everything is pretty much back to normal.
Only when Mum had her stroke, that thing that made her Mum was taken away. She isn’t Mum anymore. Some days she is close to her old self. Some days she is really, really hard work.
This weekend I met up with some friends and told them what it’s like spending time with Mum now – the weirdness of washing her, the frustration of trying to manage her frustrations that she can’t always remember simple things like how to make a cup of coffee, the sadness when she tells people that I’ve not visited in months even though I see her every week, the confusion involved in unpicking her reality from everyone else’s.
And my friends listened and listened and then said they had no idea. Because they have only seen me firmly in Options Two mode – ignoring the shit and posting pictures of the jolly stuff to facebook, even while we’re wading through treacle. We all do it, don’t we?
In actual fact, in reality, I chat to my sisters about all this, I acknowledge to Dad the shit-ness of the situation and that reduces our combined stickiness of that treacle. But I am still guilty of going into full Option Two mode to the wider word and making things look an awful lot more jolly than they often are. And the more we do that, the harder it is for other people to step away from the jolly-ing as well.
So, (not that you need it, but) today I give you permission to acknowledge the shit. And step away from the jolly-ing.
And then (because this isn’t about getting stuck in Option One – it’s about moving forward in the most positive way possible) identify some resources to support you through it. That resource might be a bar of chocolate to get you over an argument, a walk outside on your own every day to get you through a tricky phase at home, or a friend who will listen before they jolly you, whenever you need it.
I see that shit and the treacle you’re wading through, my lovely. Give yourself a rest now, so you can get out that stickiness. You’ve got this.