Thursday, March 18, 2010


Thursday, March 18, 2010

This morning I was moving around pretty early, trying not to wake anybody up. As I'm on crutches, that's a tad difficult because they click and clatter with every step I take. A thought popped into my head from the other day: instead of having to tip-toe around, I have to "tip-crutch."

This early morning smile made me think of how often people find ways to smile, even laugh in the face of challenges, adversity and just plain horror. Then I thought of how often we pretend we're doing okay when we're actually not. We have many sayings that encourage us to do that:
  • Look on the bright side.
  • Keep a stiff upper lip.
  • Every cloud has a silver lining.
  • Yep, I'm fine. I'm keeping busy.
  • It could be worse.
The trouble with such sayings is that they often encourage us to bypass an important step when we're dealing with troubles -- that of facing and accepting the fact that we are human and that we have feelings for a reason. Feelings serve as a signal that lets us know something needs to be dealt with.

Sometimes people don't want to, or don't know how to, feel what they feel and accept their emotions as normal, okay and part of the situation. I call it "stoptimism." Don't feel, don't give yourself time to adjust, don't deal yourself a break. Just stop feeling, stop "feeling sorry for yourself" and stop  those nasty tears before they escape. Pretend you're alright and that things are fine. Well, like it or not, it's pretty hard to actually get better unless we let ourselves feel what we actually feel.

I heard a line somewhere: "Smile, and the world smiles with you. Cry, and you cry alone." Not a great incentive for honesty.

Life is a balancing act. Sometimes for a while, we might have to pretend, fake it 'til we make it, get up and get on with it. But we also have to allow ourselves to feel and express our sadness, shock, anger and confusion. The problem with a lot of pretending is that we're often pretending with ourselves, as well as with the rest of the world.

So, get real. Get some help. Get some sleep and a decent meal. Get used to the fact that you might not feel 100% all the time, at least for a while....and that that's okay. It's sometimes part of the ride.

Quit practicing stoptimism and opt for realism. Then a little joke just might manage to make you truly laugh and get on with it. Here are some responses you might consider to those platitudes I listed above:
  • Look on the bright side. (Can't find my sunglasses.)
  • Keep a stiff upper lip. (Makes it hard to brush my teeth, let alone smile.)
  • Every cloud has a silver lining. (So why don't I feel any richer?)
  • Yep, I'm fine. I'm keeping busy. (Take the u and the y out of busy. What's left?)
  • It could be worse. (Of course it could, but right now it feels lousy.)
For myself, I've acknowledged that my knee hurts every day, and I'm sick of these crutches, after needing them for over two months (with the light at the end of the tunnel being the size of a pin prick). I've felt and expressed my frustration and concern. So now I'm back to the humour part. As I often say, if ya can't laugh, ya might as well dance.

Well, okay, maybe that one doesn't work. But, get the idea.

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