Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Go Ahead And Feel Like Crap

17/04/2013 - 5:40pm

Today I woke up
And then I went back to bed
And then I woke up
And then I went back to bed again.

Finally I rose out of bed, and I still feel like crap. I've definitely felt worse, but I'm still kind of miserable and have a pessimistic outlook. I don't particularly feel like hearing from many people or celebrating their happiness.  And you know what, that's ok. Because I know it will pass. Eventually.

When I was younger I had every reason to be in a bad mood, suffering through a childhood that included emotional and verbal abuse by one of my parents. I felt I had to remain stoic - never yelling, almost never shedding a tear for fear that they would bring on more pain or rock the boat even further.

And we carry these ways of being into adulthood, these coping mechanisms even though we are no longer in those hurtful situations. We find ourselves tightening up or holding in the tears. Some therapists assert that now that we are adults, we have to "take in our inner child" and tell them that everything is ok. That works for a lot of people. For me, the simple knowledge that it's ok to feel like shit is most freeing.  Some religious people and churches teach that we should "pray away" negative feelings or that they are signs that our faith is not strong. But according to their own Scriptures, Jesus himself felt "negative" emotions such as extreme sorrow (Lazarus), abandonment (by Peter) and loneliness and anguish (in Gethsemane).

Jesus didn't turn to Tony Robbins or Norman Vincent Peale (The Power of Positive Thinking), and I think it's important that we take our time in really feeling these emotions like sadness and misery when they come. I'm not advocating that we go through these times alone or without a good therapist or medication, but we should give these emotions room to breathe.

It may take a few hours or a few days to get over it, but I'll get through it. And you will too. But for now, go ahead and feel like shit.

Mark Andrew Nouwen