After I lost my job, I put on my pajamas, and crawled into a hole. I joined the ranks of the 4 am sleepless, and the 4 pm sleepy. This is what I do whenever I get the wind knocked out of me, and feel like my life is falling apart. I retreat.
Those sad days happened several years ago, but they are on my mind now as I revisit the writing of my memoir. It seems like everywhere I give a reading, people want to know what I did when I first fell apart--what advice would I give others dealing with a trauma that sends them into the slough of despond?
For months, after I fell apart, friends and family told me...Come on...You'll be fine...Everything will work out...Snap out of it...Get over it.
Thanks. NOW I FEEL BAD ABOUT FEELING BAD.
So when I'm asked to give people advice about what to do when they're in the midst of any kind of heartbreak, be it divorce, loss, cancer, or unemployment, the first thing I say is: Give yourself permission to feel bad.
You don't have to feel bad about feeling bad.
Mourning is the way we honor the past. It is the way we lay it to rest. Grieving isn't reserved for death; every traumatic change is a kind of death, a death of the life or the love we had. Eventually we move on, but first, we suffer. Because that is what it means to be human.
Eventually, we have to stop staring at the ceiling.
Eventually, we have to pick ourselves up and move out into the world. And I mean, literally, get moving.
Walk. Feel a breeze on your skin. Remember how you once moved through the world with confidence. You will again. For now, let the world go by in a blur of color, if that's all you are ready to take in. But get yourself moving.
Just remember: You don't have to feel bad about feeling bad. It is hard enough--and it is important enough--simply to feel bad. Bear this in mind when you're helping friends who are down.