Never give up, never surrender. Never let the despair drag you into the falsehood of believing there’s no hope.
It’s a lie, for one thing. There is always hope, and joy, and humans are more resilient than we give them credit for. For another thing… We, speaking in the very broad human voice here, are more apt to reach out to those who sorrow. Sorrow is not the same thing as whining. Cast yourself to the ground, press your face into the mud, and when you complain about not getting up, turn your face away from the hands reaching down. Wriggle away from any and all strands of promise cast in your direction. Complain constantly, and tell anyone you talk to that whatever they suggest, it won’t work. Not that you’ll try it. Not that you’ll take some help and try something again that might have failed before. No. You just want to moan and swelter down here in the pit of despair.
Eventually? They are going to realize you’re right where you want to be, and they will shrug and wander off, to offer help to someone who they can actually help. It’s so trite and corny, but the first step in getting help is wanting help, and how do you show you want it, you really, really want it? You try. Sorrowing does not look or sound like whining. It’s finding a way to work through the tears and the setbacks. To relentlessly keep taking steps. Might not always be forward, sometimes the mud under your hands and knees slides out from under you and you’re back on your belly again. Sometimes you have to walk around an insurmountable obstacle. And there are things you simply won’t be able to go over. Hope is not unrealistic. There are things in our lives we have to give up, and let go, and we’ll have regrets. Don’t think you won’t. But don’t fix your eyes on that obstacle and batter yourself to death trying to take the direct route, either. Be willing to step sideways until you find another way around it, and further onward.
An author I love to read, and have been honored to have as part of our wedding, once said something that resonated strongly with me, long before I’d met him in person and only knew his voice through books. He told me it wasn’t original to him, but it’s still his in my mind: ‘sorrow shared is sorrow divided. Joy shared is joy multiplied.’ I’ve tested this, and found it to be true time and time again.
Long ago, my ex told me that I look at the world through rose-colored glasses. He meant that I was unrealistic and should be down wallowing in the mud and filth and submitting to whatever he wanted me to do. I tried that. Gradually, during this last decade of recovery and beginning to heal, I’ve come to embrace the roses and the warm glow of looking for beauty in all things. I’ve done my best to become relentlessly cheerful. As anyone who reads this blog, or the Mad Genius Club, where I post on Saturdays, and pays attention knows, I don’t always succeed.
I do some silly things to help me, though. I follow a group who posts photos of fat cats, and it makes me smile. I am in another group who shares weird stuff they find in secondhand stores, or stories of family treasures they rescued and repaired – one of those this morning got me thinking about writing this post. It was so sweet and it reminded me, along with an article I shared at MGC, that there is hope for humanity. Just a little better, every day. I don’t need to change the world. I just need to get a little better. And if I slip and fall, all I have to do is get up again. I have friends I trust I can ask for help and perspective when it’s really dark and I’m not sure of myself. Those days, oddly enough, seem to come just when I’m healing and life is succeeding. I slip a lot. It gets steeper at the last bit of the ravine, where the edge has been undercut by the land sliding away and down into the churning waters far below. There’s freedom and easy paths promised up there, though. Something beyond this life of slogging along with our burdens strapped to our backs.
One thing I know. A smile and the willingness to keep on trying will get you further than the high-pitched whine of chosen despair. Be cheerful. Don’t give up. If help is offered, make the effort to match it, and there will be more help, and some day? You’ll be the one offering help and then you’ll know what it feels like. You aren’t inconveniencing people. You’re passing on your joy, as you clasp that outstretched hand, and lift yourself up from the sucking pit.