[I apologize for my absence over the last few weeks and provide an excuse at the end of this post.]
Picture this: You run into a friend who is in the throes of cancer treatment. You strike up a conversation, ask how they are, and they respond, “Pretty good!” while smiling and asking you about your life. What’s your gut reaction? Mine might be admiration; I mean, after all, they’re just so positive!
Take the same person on a different day. You meet them for coffee and it’s clear that they’ve been crying. You ask what’s going on and, through tears, they confess that things are tough, that they’re tired of being sick, and they’re frustrated. You might not walk away from the conversation thinking that person was positive…at least I don’t think I would.
But is feeling and allowing yourself to experience the difficult things in life a sign that you’re not a positive person? Are you simply not being positive in that moment, but you overall are? Can you be reasonably upset and positive at the same time?
While admitted to the Chronic Pain Recovery Center at Silver Hill Hospital I learned that we can’t numb ourselves to physical pain without ignoring our emotions, as well. It makes sense that we can’t pick and choose what we’re going to feel [or not feel] and that it’s more of an all-or-nothing situation. When I stopped taking opioids all the feelings I cast aside for years started popping up, demanding I finally confront them. Sometimes that looks like me cracking up over dinner with friends, and other times it’s a panic attack in the middle of a wedding reception. Both feel like victories, though, and a sign that I’m continuing to get better, but I’m not sure that everyone views these circumstances in the same light.
My goal used to be to maintain positivity whenever possible, especially in public. Anything less felt like a failure. Letting my guard down in front of even a close friend or family member was a sign of weakness, and not letting people know the truth of how I was actually feeling was a victory. That’s not my goal anymore. I don’t want to harp on the tough stuff, but I’m done with burying it.
My new goal is to be genuine. I have no desire to be unpredictable and a victim to mood swings, but I
think hope that as I accept feelings that arise I’ll eventually find my balance.
Positivity is overrated.
* I know, I’ve been quiet for a while. My dog, Celie, is nearing the end of her life. The last few weeks I’ve focused on her and soaked up all her wonderfulness, hating the idea of neglecting her while I pursued my own thing. For now, though, she is sleeping peacefully at my feet, so I seized the opportunity to write something down.