I'm really trying to break my addiction to xkcd. I really am. Promise.
But today...I went to go check if there was a new comic up and I saw this one. And it hit me pretty hard. Thankfully, it doesn't apply to my life right now. But oh goodness does it remind me of how I felt all summer.
Without going too much into the unnecessary, gory details, I will state that this summer was one of the darkest times of my life. I spent much of it feeling alone and broken, not knowing where to turn for comfort. I worried that I was doing something wrong. After all, they teach us that if we do all the right things, share our toys, and believe in ourselves, everything will work out hunky-dory, right? So if you hurt or you're scared or you're alone or you can't go a day without locking yourself in your room and bawling you must be making a mistake, right?
But I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong, and that made me mad. Every inspirational quote about the power of optimism, every song about finding hope in adversity, every loved one who told me to stop feeling sorry for myself and find my own happiness just hardened my anger. I felt that I was doing everything I was supposed to to be happy: working hard at my job, going running every day, spending time with family and friends, spending a lot of time outside, trying new things, serving others whenever I could. And yet my heart still was ravaged by pain and loneliness.
After a couple of months, however, I came to realize that whether or not my anguish was my own fault or the result of my circumstances, I needed to do something about it. I talked to my parents about the possibility of clinical depression. I started taking vitamins. I made an appointment with a therapist. In essence, I said what the main character in this comic said: "Screw this. My attitude isn't my problem. My disease is my problem, and I'm treating it. I'm going to be glum and depressed and pessimistic some days, and I'm going to get better anyways."
And, little by little, I did get better. I stopped feeling guilty for my own emotions. I accepted the fact that I'd gone through a major ordeal, that I was still dealing with the repercussions, that some days were going to feel like crap and that was okay. I can't even express how liberating that felt.
So, I survived my summer. I am into the next season of my life, and I am happier than I remember being ever. I think I can honestly say I love everything about my life right now. Do I feel perfectly optimistic every day? Not at all. Some days I feel like I'm back where I was this summer, but instead of beating myself up, I'm learning to just wait it out then move on. And you know what? Life is beautiful.
I don't know if I'm being very clear. I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you're hurting, if you're scared, if you're sick, do not feel guilty about it. Please don't. Don't tell yourself that your pain is silly or pointless or unfounded. Do what you can to treat the problem, and then wait, realizing that some days are still going to suck. "There are no silly fears...If you're afraid of something, it's real, and it affects your thinking and performance no matter how valid or invalid someone else says it is. It's like there's no minor pain when it's yours. If it hurts, it hurts. What you got to do is figure out how to deal with it, not use up your energies trying to decide if it's real or not." (Phule's Paradise).
Pain is a part of life. It is a part of everybody's life. Not just the weak, or the inadequate, or the pessimistic. Everybody. I think when we try to pretend everything is cheery and rosy all the time, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to feel true pain and to grow from it. And somehow, that deep darkness gives greater meaning to the glorious light that replaces it.