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Brave Vulnerability

April 19, 2018

jeanette merstrand
I think everyone experiences it occasionally.
Those mornings where the sun is shining and the birds are singing, and you don’t really know why, but you just seem to wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Days where that mood then lingers the rest of the day, and any little thing seems to put you over the edge and makes you lash out at the people closest to you. Days where you just can’t seem to make sense of any of your emotions, and explaining “why” you feel the way that you do is impossible.
Those times where everyone else is laughing at a joke, but you can’t quite seem to make out a genuine laugh yourself, and times where even though you might be surrounded by people you consider friends, you feel more lonely than ever. Days where all motivation and energy seems to evade you and where the only thing that seems possible is to lie still and do nothing. Times where you act out of character, or feel like who you are and who you want to be don’t quite match up. Times where you smile for the world in spite of feeling absolutely broken inside.
Sometimes, during these kinds of days the hug of a friend, or the kind word of a family member, or even a smile from a stranger helps- but then again- sometimes it doesn’t and those occasional days spill into continuation.
Sometimes, during these kinds of days the hug of a friend, or the kind word of a family member, or even a smile from a stranger helps- but then again- sometimes it doesn’t.
The past couple of years at times have felt like some of the hardest, loneliest and most confusing years of my life. I can’t explain the how, when or why of it all, and it is even hard to explain the “what” exactly and in a way that makes sense even to me. I suppose that looking in, it is always difficult to understand, and looking out it is always difficult to explain. What I can explain though, is that it is so much more than sadness, and managing it is so much more than looking on the bright side of life. Healing is more than finding meaning, because there is no meaning or purpose to it. It is exhausting and confusing.
On some of the worst days it feels like everyone walking out on you and giving up on you- including yourself and leaving only a shadow behind of who exists. It feels like disappointment and failure, like unbearable heaviness, exhaustion, confusion, loneliness and immobility.  On better days it feels like tiny beams of hope, sometimes almost microscopic, shining through a crack in the wall, a comforting hug, or the small sliver of excitement that things seem to be “getting better.” But although improvement might seem steady, it is often a steep, sudden and treacherous fall from “better” back down to “worst,” and the only thing truly more exhausting than feeling like this is pretending that I don’t.
The only thing truly more exhausting than feeling like this when I do, is pretending that I don’t
It carries a name. “It” carries many names. For one person, it might be depression. For others it might be grief. Or anxiety. Or overwhelming stress. A burnout. A broken marriage. Losing a job. Rejection. A miscarriage. The loss of a friend or family member. Sometimes “it” seems completely intangible and can only be seen by its effects. “It” comes in many different shapes, sizes and forms, but in some way “it” touches all of us at least at one point throughout our lives.
So, this post is a small reminder to myself and others that struggle is a universal condition of humanity, perfection is an illusion, and the exhaustion of pretending is not worth the deceptive facade it creates. Sometimes life moves forward day by day, or even minute by minute, and it happens to the best of us. So when you ask, “how are you?” again I hope you do so with genuine concern, and when you answer, I hope you find the strength within yourself to answer authentically and with a brave vulnerability.
It is OK to live in perfect imperfection. It is OK to feel broken, defeated, confused, lost, and beaten. And sometimes it is OK not to be OK.


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