Losses. Fights. Scarcity. Illness. Abuse. Accidents. We don’t need Freud to tell us that no one gets through life unscathed. We merely have to live it. And I’ve lived long enough to experience how the hard parts of life help create you—shape you.
If you’ve read my Beautifully Broken or What I See in Sea Glass, then you know how I feel about weathering life’s storms and knowing that it can be—will be, if you let it—a part of the you that is being created over time—an ongoing, evolving work of art.
Stained glass. Sea glass. Mosaic. A dear friend of mine gave me a Mudlove.com (visit! buy!) bracelet with that very word…mosaic.
All of our life pieces, broken or not, come together to create the “bigger picture” of us—one that, like a mosaic, appears one way up close…
and another way from a distance…
Whether the pieces are created or made through cutting, when they come together, something altogether different and beautiful appears. And when the “scathing” of life happens, understanding this can offer solace.
But sometimes when life is breaking me down or chipping away at me, even with the wisdom of saying, “Pay attention. Learn. This will help you grow,” I just want to say fuck it. This hurts. I’m done for now. Pardon me while I go curl up into a ball. Catch you another day.
The ultimate lesson may be there for the taking, but right now…let me just feel it for what it is.
We know the trying times come to us through various avenues. Maybe we lose someone we love or have something unplanned happen to us that changes our lives forever.
Sometimes it can be a battle from within. I know that when I make myself vulnerable, and it doesn’t go well, I retreat like a turtle pulling into her shell—but the shell is like Oscar the Grouch’s garbage can—with unknown depths and crazy things going on inside. Who knows when I will stick my head out again?
During those times of suckiness, no matter where they come from, I’ve come to realize how much we want to make things better for others. “It’ll be ok.” “It’s all part of God’s plan.” “Cheer up. You know the sun’ll come out tomorrow.” “At least you’ve got (insert whatever blessing you choose).” It all comes from a helpful place, but—at least for me—it’s…not helpful.
I’ve learned that often, what I really need from another is simply for them to sit in the suckiness with me. Listen if I have something to say. Or understand it’s okay to be silent, too. Understand. Empathize. Don’t fix. Don’t spin. Just be. With me.
Last night, with my affliction for re-watching movies I’ve seen numerous times, I watched the last part of Rocky. There is a scene where Rocky doubts himself right before the fight. He goes to the arena and all it does is reinforce for him that he’s in way over his head. Eventually, he makes his way home and shares his fears and doubts with Adrian. Her response is strikingly atypical to what we’ve come to expect.
This is the only clip I could find of it, and the quality isn’t that great, but…take a listen. The whole scene is worth watching, but the part I am focusing on starts at 3:30. (Unfortunately, when you embed a clip from YouTube, you can’t choose the start point.)
There is no, “Oh, Rocky—don’t be so down on yourself. You’ll do great…” There is no quick, reassuring response. There is simply, “What are we gonna do?” She adds, “You’ve worked so hard,” but only as a statement of fact—not to convince him that he’s got too much invested now to give up or that he’s got a good shot because of that—just identifying. And then more listening. What are we gonna do? Damn, that Adrian knows how to sit in the suckiness.
This is not to say that there aren’t times that a good pep talk is the necessary response. In keeping with the Rocky illustrations, just see Adrian kick Rocky’s wallowing ass in Rocky III.
That really is the challenge, I guess. When to sit in the suckiness and when to knock some sense into someone. Perhaps it is all about the timing. Is it something that is just being shared and understood or is it something that is ongoing and holding someone back from healing or moving forward?
I certainly don’t have all the answers. But I do know that all the pieces that make up the mosaics of our lives come together in different ways, and how we respond to one another can make all the difference.
I may not always be able to see my difficult times as the lessons they’ll be and instead want to curl up in a ball for a bit, and that’s okay. That’s pretty darn human. Maybe all I need is someone to understand that ball—not try to unroll it. (Which is pretty darn human, too.)
Eventually, the pieces will come together. If you stick around, you’ll see.