hey life, hand me another lemon.
I dare you.
I’m not really sure if I’m being prepared for the life of an expert lemonade maker or if the universe is so full of sour that we all have to take on this much. but what I want to dive right into this week is how I have been feeling in this culture of “check in on your strong friend.” what I see a lot are the people in our lives who are the first to say how awful *insert struggle/crisis/trauma/grief* is. they offer advice and the occasional, “you’re so tough, this is only preparing you for something better.” I generally, and in the realm of faith, believe them as I am also reminded that this path was designed for me. I am never alone in my struggle; as I can, alternatively, always share in my joy. which brings me to the other people- the ones who cheer and congratulate how far you have come and how big the odds were once you have beat them. a friend who celebrates at the finish line. all these humans, full of kind words and support are necessary. but I’m wondering about the people in the kitchen helping you cut lemons. how very few times I am asked how I am WHILE I am doing the work, processing the feelings, or sitting alone wondering how I will make it all happen. now, don’t get me wrong, I have these humans for which I am grateful that ask me how my heart is and listen and show up. it is the casualness with which we tend only to validate the struggle and the victory that leaves me feeling pretty blah with interacting, most of the time. because no one wants to be uncomfortable or to hear a response loftier than fine.
social media has been an interesting place to observe the lack of appreciation for just being okay when okay is not your norm.
so last week, I took a break from sharing. I wanted to fully enjoy my evenings at home since work has been a huge tornado of 9am- 4pm intensive training days and problem solving meetings. I felt like I was playing catch-up all week. but I also needed a break from social media in general. I’d found an article about self care and shared, alongside it, some tips for friends of people with atypical mental health. I got a whole lot of friends asking if I was okay. I was. but very, very few of those people have ever asked me this before. they needed a flare gun to go off before initiating their kindness. most of the time, that’s gonna be too late. especially when the internet is your highlight reel. I ended up taking the story down. it made me feel guilty or like people assumed my happiness wasn’t real because I was also sad or that they somehow had an open door with which to discuss my stability.
the whole situation gave me weird feels because for me personally, this harvest season has brought with it a crop of highs and lows. in recent days, more external lows and internal highs, thankfully. but I am not one to hide that, even online. it’s sad that I regretted my vulnerability because I have been feeling more comfortable with myself. feeling secure in my ability to thrive not just survive. and with that comes less of a need to reach for validation. not that using social media always implies this, it’s just that I have often found myself aimlessly scrolling looking for the thing that will make me feel included or a page that justifies my thinking. I doubt I’m alone in this mechanism.
reflection is truly a humbling tool. one that I use to break my cycle of comparison. it helps me re-pattern my brain to be able to see beyond immediate obstacles. I want to be able to curate the landscape of my attitude. it is important to me that I honor the duality of each day and pay attention to my emotional response to each situation. this can be a struggle for the bipolar brain- keeping all the wires running and free of unnecessary kinks. documenting moments of my choosing helps to create a way for me to ease through irrational thought processing before it becomes a heightened reaction. this is how I have learned to balance my capabilities with my circumstances.
which is why I started The Pursuit of Joy Project at the beginning of last month. the list has made it to over 25 and I spent the better part of my free time away from social media reading over the moments I selected. (you can find them here) mostly, because I needed to find a clearer head space as I navigate through a couple life situations with inevitably difficult futures. (we are all fine but this mama heart is tired) I am finally finding an emotional place where I’m able to let my shoulders roll back and breathe through each moment for what it is. such a relief it has been to spend less & less time recovering from the lows and more & more time being present with my happiness. it’s nice to be able to share all of it with my humans even on the days I shut down and don’t want to.
takeaway from this week’s post- check on your friends, period.
be the friend that shows up for the in between. know that I ( and those in your life with mental health variances) will probably get by without you. they are filled with so much joy when they don’t have to. I have no idea what I would do without my people. I hope you have people too. if you don’t, you know where to find me. if you have the wrong people, the ones who only show up for the before & after to drink your delicious lemonade… reconsider your energy allotment. just sayin’.
*note- this is, in essence, my journal. you volunteered to read this. thank you for that. I have no intentions of ranting or educating about mental health. I’m just sharing my experience. not sure why I feel like all my posts need a disclaimer, but here we are.