Thank you seems so inadequate to say to all of you who have reached out in such genuine, sincere and meaningful ways over the last 24 hours. I am so grateful. More than I can express. The reaching out has made all the difference. All the difference.
And I’m ok. Really. I know this Thing. I’m not a fan of the Thing, but I know it and we have reached an uneasy understanding, this Thing and I. I know to avoid encounters with it, I know how fight it when we do meet. Sometimes, especially in the case of a sneak attack, there’s a longer and harder battle than at other times but I’m a reluctant expert on this Thing and it will not destroy me. We have figured out how to co-exist for the most part. Yes, it sucks, but it’s my Thing. Everybody has a Thing. Most of us have more than one Thing.
The person with the perfect life, the one who is kind and beautiful and thin, with great hair and an always clean, palatial home and sweet loving children. The one who looks genuinely confused when people talk about money problems. She has a Thing.
The one who is tall and dark and handsome and confident and funny, who shakes hands firmly and frequently gushes about how good life is, who has an adoring family, a thriving career and somehow still enough time to go golfing and help people move. He has a Thing.
The kid who is on all the sports teams, who volunteers, who never gets nor will ever get baby fat or acne, who aces every test at school, who dresses in all the right name brands but never looks like he is trying too hard. The kid who has all the latest video games, all the latest everything. That kid who everybody loves even though you desperately want to hate him because he’s so irritatingly perfect but he’s just too damn nice to hate? He has a thing.
A young friend of mine and I were giddily discussing a blogger whose life we both gawk at recently. We were giggling in happy incredulity over this blogger’s “flawless” life. It’s so fun to look at! My young friend and I are in totally different stages of life. I’m married with a million kids, she is still in high school, yet we are equally entranced by watching this woman live her movie perfect life on our computer screens. On her blog she is beautiful, she has a perfect family life, she appears to have plenty of money, she lives in an exciting city and she seems genuinely nice and spiritual to boot. But as I assured my young friend, that chick might well have all that (and a bag of chips-remember that random expression?) but she has a Thing. No doubt about it. You don’t see it on the blog, because the blog is her business and her seemingly flawless life sells well, but yep, absolutely, she’s got a Thing. And I bet she’d be the first to assure anyone of that.
We’ve all got a Thing. Life guarantees us of that. “Things” are pretty much the whole point of the exercise. When we realize that, and stop feeling like something is wrong with our life or with us because we have a Thing, the Things get easier to accept. Let me say it again. Having a Thing and figuring out how to live with it (or Them)…it’s the whole point of life. I would even venture to say that if you’ve got a thing and you know it, you’re doing it right.
My Thing happens to be depression. I have other Things too. Some that I talk about here, some that I don’t. Even when the chemicals in my brain are playing together nicely, there are other things. They suck too. The Things get me down sometimes.
I’ve also got a ridiculously kind and supportive husband, amazing children, great friends, my health, and more than enough money to live exceptionally comfortably by 99.99999% of the world’s standards.
A variety of people have reached out to me over the last couple of days. Complete strangers, casual acquaintances, casual friends, close friends, family members. Every single one of them has a Thing. Many of them shared them with me. Some of them are battling the a similar Thing, right now, right along with me. But they still reached out. Some of them are battling Things that are even more overwhelming than my Thing, but they still reached out, Some of them have battled a similar Thing in the past, and the memory of that is raw and painful, but they still reached out. Some of them are helplessly watching loved ones struggle with a Thing right now, but they reached out regardless. Some of them cannot relate to my Thing at all, but they reached out anyway.
And it is in that honesty, that compassion and that reaching out that we can bear the Things. Honestly and kindness and empathy and sharing and caring are our best defenses against the Things. They transform the Things from the monsters that darken our life into the Things that make us wiser, kinder, and less judgmental. They turn the Things that make us feel the most isolated and alone into the Things that help us to come to know our friends on a deeper level and discover brand new soul mates. They transform the Things that bring us to our knees in despair, into the Things that help us to understand the One who bore all Things for us better than we ever did before, to know Him better and to become more like Him. Without battling the Things, and without helping each other battle the Things, we cannot progress. We cannot be like Him.
I was pretty bummed about the way the year started for me but I’m starting to realize it was perfect. It was the perfect reminder that every single day, in every single interaction that I have I’m dealing with someone who is dealing with some Thing. The irritable clerk at the grocery store, the rude teenager who flips me off in traffic. The smug PTO mom, the obnoxious kid subtly bullying mine. I’m reminded that I need to be kinder and a little more generous with my time, with my experiences and with my vulnerability. Because through the kindness of others, I am learning more and more all the time that the Things are no match for those.