I’m one of those people that always have positive quotes posted around me. I struggle with anxiety and depression and having inspiration posted around me helps me to keep my mind straight. My cubicle at work, my car, my home, my coffee mugs-- they are all covered in positive quotes, memes and photos. Yes—I’m THAT person.
Recently, however, I have been struggling with a bout of sadness. I have found myself raw with feeling as I navigate working through the mourning of being a victim of a violent crime twenty years ago and finally working through the mess of my feelings that comes with that. I’ve found myself struck with tears at the most inopportune of times and suffering through the nervousness and jumpiness that comes with having my fight or flight system ‘on’ twenty-four hours per day. I am a bundle of uncomfortable emotions, just barely held together enough to continue with my day-to-day life.
I’ve found that in this raw state that I cannot tolerate the false cheerfulness of quotes pasted over a bright sunshine or motivational talks to let go of my sadness and smile. It just doesn’t ring true to me where I am right now, in this place of darkness. I am exhausted by false cheer. There are some days that I must sink into the melancholy of life.
I have a friend on social media that is always posting the words ‘Choose happy’. She is a lovely person that lives her life trying to help others. However, I had to temporarily hide her posts. I believe that there are times that we can, indeed, choose happy. There are also times that we must feel the shitty emotions-- the pain, the sadness, the grieving-- and not doing so is detrimental to our souls. I cannot at this time in my life deny these emotions that I have denied for twenty years.
This time has been a great lesson to me. In my personal life and in my work as a nurse I have spent many hours cheering people up. I hope to continue to do so. However, I must also allow those suffering to truly feel their emotions and not encourage them to paste a false smile over their raw emotions-- doing so is a toxic mistake.
We have become a society that has forgotten the value of our ‘negative’ emotions. We hide behind pretty selfies and cheerful social media posts when inside we are reeling. We have forgotten how to allow ourselves permission to have bad days and to experience the heavy emotions that can come with life.
I will choose happy another day. However, for today I will feel the crushing sadness, the grief and the anger. I will ignore the cheerful quotes and pretty pictures and instead immerse myself inside the pain. I will allow myself to burn inside the fire that been kindling in my heart for twenty years and has been denied the chance to flame. I will emerge from the fire stronger than ever before. I will be lighter without this burden and instead of pasting on a false smile over my pain; my smile on the other side of this will be true and real.
There is nothing wrong with honoring all of your emotions. I get to choose. You get to choose. There is no shame in not choosing happy for today. Happiness will still be waiting for you tomorrow. True happiness is not the smile pasted over your tears, it is the happiness that shines through after you’ve worked through all of the shit that weighs your heart down. It’s often not an easy journey—I hope you choose to take it anyway.