I’m a Good Person … Please Send Bad Things

Disclaimer: These are controversial words. If today’s hours need to be spent safely inside your comfort zone, steer well away.

It hits you right in the jugular. Those phone calls of doom; email clients harbingers of ‘Anything but this’; registered mail whispering “Yep, the storm’s started.” Sometimes it disguises itself as a visit from the last person you’d ever care to see. Occasionally it’s that dreaded The Talk.

Let’s face it: Life can be a peach, but intermittently it serves up worms. And, much like one’s fellow picnic goers lets rip a silent sigh of relief that their serving of fruit was intact from nature’s less cutesy side (this time), so too do we have in our personal inventories those war stories we live – and love – to forget.

Here’s where it gets uncomfortable. Are you still reading? Prepare to enter the Twilight Zone. But first, be a sport and think of the worst thing that’s ever happened to you. No, don’t soldier on intellectually without really thinking this through. What’s the biggest mishap that’s ever befallen you? The thing you’d turn around time for?

Got it? Good. Let’s ride. That [fill in worst thing ever] is a GIFT. Say thank you, please! You’ve been selected, Hunger Games-style! It’s a gift because you who transcend the abyss are the ones who guide out those still stuck down in it in a way that ‘outsiders’ never could.

We see our downfalls, breakdowns, and a bad deck of cards dealt as a curse.”Why me?” Because you’ve been chosen. “What did I do to deserve this?” Perhaps nothing. Perhaps it was mere luck of the draw. Still, here you are and lucky you be. So you’d better start feeling grateful for being so special and start doing something about it, lest you become your particular infliction’s official Those Who Didn’t Make It mascot.

We continually and excessively cling to the absurdity that a life must (emphasis on this one!) be spent in happy and successful perfection. Now that’s a fallacy of thought if ever there was one! Where the heck did you get supporting evidence from for that one?! Life is an experience. And experiences, per definition, are filled with ups and downs, breaking necks and collecting crowns. Or so says Oxford. Perhaps your dictionary is a different imprint. An “experience” means it’s all there, packed into a neat little box labelled, ‘From the cradle to the grave.’

And when Life chooses us for the A-team, we party a mile a minute. But how often do you hear someone expressing their appreciation at being able to experience a life-threatening disease? The death of a child? Being raped and tortured? How would (or did) you react? Care to reflect on the emotional unfolding of that Terrible Thing of the Past we revived in your mind earlier?

I know what you’re thinking. But you’re wrong. It’s NOT natural that it’d flatline you. Not for life, anyway. Because this isn’t a fairy tale and bad things are bound to happen from time to time To other people (thank god! we think) and, sometimes, to you and those you love. Let’s do the math. Setbacks aren’t variables (meaning you know they will show up at some stage), so why would we “naturally” be so crushed by it that it would alter the flow of our beings and our lives?

It’s like buying a new brand-new car, then suing the manufacturers when you (one day whenever) get a flat (or an engine cease). That, or drowning it in the river, yourself in tow, because why did this have to happen to you, and you did not need this in your life right now.

Now, I’m not saying that keeling over when hit in the gut is not allowed. If that were the case, I’d be writing instead about how you should stop repressing emotion (which, coincidentally, you should). No! Have your sorrows and your woes, do dangerous things and sad things and things you’ll later come to regret; or don’t do anything at all and just stay on the couch for 3 years. Whatever it takes: To run away from the pain, to confront it, to identify with it, deny it, or become one with it…all up to you. There’s no prepaid script, after all. This is impromptu theatre at its most raw.

But eventually (and this is all this article is covertly begging of you), decide that you’re done suffering (bottom line, though you’ll have to be an old hand at dark hole-duty to know what I say is true, is that it is just. that. easy.). Then mine for the gold nuggets it left behind, that demon of desperate, despondent, despair. (It tends, actually, to be a generous one.) Find the gift you’ve been bestowed with. Heal the healer. Then be that healer unto the world.

I’d much rather entrust my money to a stocks-and-bonds man who’s lost millions but found himself in the process and so picked himself up again than a trust fund-kid who spends his Saturdays in the trophy room polishing his Golden Spoons…

Give me an ex-crackhead who’s come out clean on the other side of the addiction and himself when going through drug withdrawal. The gifted and well-meaning therapists and doctors might have seen it all, but they sure haven’t felt it all.

In my own life, I’ve been gifted with many things. Some have taken me years to embrace. Some I’m still playing hide ‘n seek with. Recently, I was gifted with a dyslexia-diagnosis for my already ADHD-labelled son. “Oh,” Life seemed to say, “You feel that strongly that education in its entirety needs to change to empower the learner as opposed to the teacher? Well here you go, darling, here’s a beautiful little boy who won’t for more than a few minutes indulging in learning that isn’t self-directed. I’ve even thrown in a severe aversion to independently wanting to comprehend the written word, so you get to properly test out (r)evolutionising education and learning….and don’t mention it – it’s on me.”

Thanks, Life. I sure owe you 🙂

Which area – or, if you’re lucky enough – areas in your life is a gift horse you can stop staring in the teeth now? What pain and suffering can you transmute to become a wounded healer, doctor, business person, parent, life partner? As for [fill in worst thing ever], what’s your status?

Feature image by Joshua Earle on Unsplash