I went to work feeling tearful and sad. Before I left for work, I’d heard bad news from people close to me about serious illness and family issues. Sitting down at my work computer, I ‘paged’ through my WordPress reader. It wasn’t just the title of Jenny’s post Things to do when everything is crap that caught my eye! It was a timely reminder that there are things one can do when things don’t feel right.
I was no less sad but remembered that I do have some coping strategies that I can rely on when I need them. If I hadn’t been at work, I might have cried. There is such a taboo about crying. Why does it get such a bad rap? I’ve learnt to cry when I need to – it’s a good way to relieve tension! Although I didn’t understand what she meant at the time, my mum often used to say “If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry”. Now I can see what she meant and I wonder how often she wanted to cry but felt that she couldn’t?
Back to my day
I couldn’t play my music loudly and I didn’t have a favourite book handy either – what to do? I decided to continue looking for a boost on WordPress.
When I read Cheri Lucas Rowland’s piece on the Discover page called Advice from Phillip Lopate on Writing About Your Own Life I was immediately drawn to the paragraph about finding humour in life and using it as a coping strategy when times are tough. I was intrigued enough to follow the link Lois Roelof’s post: Write Along with Me… and to read further.
Just because you are feeling sad about the whole wide world and you’re telling your story in the truest manner possible, no one wants to be dragged along in your muck. So, no matter how sad your story is, find that smidgen of humor in it, if only to make a little fun about how you’re coping. Humor alone is a fine coping strategy.
Just going where my mouse took me, I found some of Phillip’s writing on the web, which had me engaged within seconds. Already I was feeling that I could cope with the day, in spite of my sadness.
I realised that what I did is another of my coping strategies. Sometimes, when I need support the universe obliges and unexpected things pop into my awareness: it might be a post or a book to read, a quote that seems to hit the spot, a reassuring conversation with a friend or colleague, a new idea for a post or photo project… something I can find comfort in. But, I have to let myself be open to life’s ebb and flow.
I don’t want these things to help me forget, but rather I hope that they will help me to gain perspective, to find some level of equilibrium again, so I can continue with my day.
I haven’t always been able to do find ways to cope.
When I was a child, I learned how to develop a tough skin, pretending that the relentless teasing from my family didn’t hurt me. As a young adult, finding solace in one or two bottles of good red wine would have been my strategy of choice! At other times, I’ve told myself not to be selfish, I have fewer problems than many other people in the world – and I’ve bottled everything up, moved on. People have commented that I come across as cold and uncaring…
Benefits of getting older…
Life goes on, I get older. The years have thrown stuff at me, as they do for all of us. The coping mechanisms have changed. There has to be some benefit and wisdom in getting older, right?
As a single mom, if I still drank myself into a stupor or bottled everything up I’m not sure where I’d be – or where my son would be?
Slowly, ever so slowly, I’ve taught myself to experience the emotions – not to wallow – but not to dismiss or bury them either. Then, I try to find a way to process what is happening and do something to re-balance. If Danbo can, I can!
Back to Jenny’s post:
So I’ve compiled a list of things which I have done on the dark days; not all of these are designed to make you feel better. Sometimes, nothing is going to make you feel better and you just have to accept that. But just stuff that you can do. Cos sometimes we just need to do something.