Scrolling through my emails, I came across this response to my “About” page: R U Still Sad? It was from someone I didn’t know, but this strangely personal yet impersonal text, got me thinking–but my first response was a kind of defensiveness. Doesn’t this person get the message in my writing? There is always hope…a silver lining…a little miracle at the heart of human misery. I deleted the comment, almost aggressively, even with a measure of pride.
Some time elapsed. A troubled child of a friend was involved in a near-fatal car wreak that left people pondering as to the cause. I knew. It was a result of a long neglected sadness. Another reported that a minister friend had taken his own life. Someone else was secretly in tears at work.
Apparently over 57 million Americans are depressed.
And those are the one’s that are honest.
Back to me. I grew up with the blackness of a parent’s denied depression. In my churchified origins, it was not socially acceptable to have problems. Wednesday night prayer meetings were filled with “silent prayer” requests. Everyone figured God would know. But the problem was that no one else did. This secrecy destroyed any possibility of community…the kind of warmth that happens when the truth is unburden from one human heart in the presence of another.
So, to answer my reader’s query…Yes, I am still sad. We are facing terrible odds and seemingly broken dreams all the time. The kind that meet you at the first blush of morning light and hiss “Today will not be the day your breakthrough will arrive.” We have met with so little success and so much hardship for being “us” that there are days I do understand, deeply, how people seek to destroy their lives.
I also feel that we, as a world, need to make some space for being okay with sadness. Man, from Facebook updates to formal meet-and-greets, the standard is to always maintain the party line of , “Oh, I’m fine. Everything’s great.” I even ran into a guy, when asked the usual question, responded, “Better than anybody else.” (Well, he could be the subject of another blog…)
Back to the question du jour.Why do we do that? Why won’t we say how things really are?
Maybe it has to do with time. It would take too long to tell the it’s-not-so-good version. Or maybe we have witnessed too many people who, under the chronic victim banner, spill the details of their lives for any passer-by. But you know what, I think it is more insidious than that…I think that it is that a huge majority of us have digested the rule that it is not okay to be not okay.
I want to break the law, here. I am not fine…at least not yet. My big burden pains me. And I don’t do anything much to escape the fact. I don’t drink, shop, have multiple marriages, or jobs. There is no vacation. And no, Calgon can’t take me away. And to my great dismay, as of this moment, there is no chocolate, either. It’s a hard wait. It pisses me off on days, and right now, my eyes fill with tears as I type.
There is nothing I can do but be as gentle as I can with those I live with. I have to discipline myself into hope and a decent attitude. And I have to just–dammit–be with that ache in my chest cavity that comes from the chill of waiting for the flower to emerge from the crack in the pavement.