Wednesday, July 1, 2015

3 Very Important Things to NEVER Forget About Life

Life can throw curveballs, big mean sons o' guns, that really take you down. It can take your finances, or your self-esteem, or your home, loved ones, job, security, ability to walk, ability to speak. Life can be a big fat S.O.B. that seems to always be looking for a fight. 

Because of that very fact, and after the events of my week (yes it's only Tuesday at 8pm as I write this) and some conversations with someone who is having a rough go at life, I have decided to talk about three things that are extremely important. And I'm not just talking to you, the person who always struggles, who always seems to feel terrible no matter the day/time/event. I'm not just talking to you, the one who can't seem to make a right choice no matter how hard you try. I'm not just talking to you, the person who always has life in the bag. I'm talking to every single soul on this planet. All how-ever-many billion of us there are.

1. You matter. 

You always matter. It doesn't make a difference what day it is, or who said what about you, or how many awful choices you've made. You matter. Your life is worth living. Your breaths count. There are people on this planet who are praying for you, and spend time every day hoping for you to see that glimmer of hope, the one they've always had in their heart, that you would be able to love yourself. If no one is left on this earth in your life, and all of your family and friends have died, they are on the other side of this veil that keep us from the afterlife, and they are watching and hoping that your life will have purpose, and that you will see that it always has. They do not want you to end your life early, they do not want you to stop and give up. They want you to die when you are meant to die, by natural causes after you've lived the years you are meant to live. NEVER give up. 

I don't care how hard you have to try, I don't care if you have to spend 30 days immobilized by depression in bed wallowing before you can take that step out of your door in a futile attempt to regain the land of the living, or if you have to spend 180 days in a rehab center, or time in jail, or whatever it is that you have to do to get through the pain. I don't care what it is -- just never give up. No matter how much you think your life is not important, and you'd be better off ending it all as soon as possible...


2. There will be pain. There will be happiness. You will experience it all.

I once heard someone say (who clearly had a misunderstanding of how life worked) that as long as you made good choices and did the right thing your life would always be happy. If things weren't going well, you clearly made a mistake. 

This is utter crap. 

Yes, we reap the consequences of what we sow, and we can bring hardship into our life unnecessarily by poor choices. However, with that being said, that is not a finite, hard and fast, rule. What of all the beautiful people who are hit by cars, killed in car accidents or house fires or wars and natural disasters? What about all the amazing people who suffer from handicaps of the physical and mental kind? People break our hearts, not because we deserved it, but because they are people and can choose their own paths. What about my mother? She was as gentle and good as they come, and she suffered and succumbed to a quick and invasive brain tumor out of no where. Bad things happen to good and bad people. Good things happen to bad and good people.

Happiness is not a land that you find and never leave. Happiness is cyclical. You will have pain, you will have health, you will have sorrow, you will have joy. This life will bring it all to you, no matter where you go, no matter what you do, and no matter who you are. The only thing you can do is hold on tight during the cliff dives, and laugh during the upswings. No one is invincible, we all come into this world the same way, and go out of it in similar fashion. No matter what is happening to you right now, you are not alone. We all will go through fire. It is part of the human experience. Don't let the pain make you feel like you are being shafted by the hands of the universe because someone else next to you is having a better time. They have had their fire. They will have more of it. They will also have more good days. This is the same for you, me, and all of us. 

3. The only opinion of who you are, that actually matters, is your own. 

It feels amazing when people tell us how much they love us, or how great we are doing. It feels amazing to get positive feedback and to be well-liked. But none of it matters if we don't love ourselves. 

My mother, when she was diagnosed with brain cancer, spoke very plainly to me. I was sleeping over at my grandma's with her after her brain surgery, taking care of her, and getting some one-on-one time that was much needed after everyone surrounded her with love at the hospital. 

As we lay there in the dark that night 2 years ago, I believe it was March 16, 2013, both of us stuffed in twin beds opposite each other,  we began to chat about the truth of everything. She took down her tough, motherly walls, and she showed me the truth of what she was feeling. She let me in on her fears instead of being strong for her child. I guess it's one of the beauties of growing up. I was 28, almost 29. She knew I was ready for the real parts of life. I'm paraphrasing from memory, but this is a pretty accurate representation of what was said.

Me: "Mom... are you scared?"
Mom: "...Yes, very. I don't know what's coming, but I'm determined to fight it with everything I have."
Me: "I'm scared, too. What's it all like?"
Mom: "Well, it's pretty overwhelming." She paused and thought about what to say, and also because she had just had brain surgery a few days before, everything worked a little slower, even her thoughts. "For one thing, though, this whole process has shown me just how important I am. I never knew how much of an impact I'd made in people's lives, until I was given such a diagnosis. A brain tumor really shows you the truth. I see now that I'm more loved than I ever thought I was."

I was blown away that night. My mother, the perfect angel, her small town's sweetheart, had no idea how important she was to everyone. She was nominated to run for city council, without ever expressing interest, and was voted in and held her position for 10 years. She was always asked to sing at events, and perform in plays. She substituted classes at the high school and was always loved by the kids. Everyone I ever ran into, always told me, "I JUST LOVE YOUR MOM, tell her hello for me!"

The woman was one of the most popular women in her town and she never knew it. I can't imagine the amazing successes she'd have had if her self-esteem had been high. She seemed to attain every dream she ever had without any self-esteem. Who knew? None of us did. 

Her funeral must have had 400 people at it. We stood in line at her wake for 3 hours the first night and 2 the morning of her funeral. The people just kept coming. So, why do I share this story?

It won't matter what anyone thinks of you if you don't love yourself. Look in the mirror every morning, and tell yourself at least one thing you like about yourself. Write it down every night in a journal. Read over it often. You matter. Remind yourself often. None of our opinions of you matter. It doesn't matter if we all hate you, disagree with your way of life, or think you are ugly/stupid/irrelevant, or even if we all approve of you. NONE OF OUR OPINIONS MATTER. Do whatever it takes for you to love yourself, and don't let us dictate how you get there. 

So, to sum it all up:
+ Your life matters.
+ You must love yourself, and love yourself some more.
+ There will be pain, but there will also be joy. 

You must live it all.
You. Must. Live.

Join the conversation!

  1. Lana, I love your passion and love for people and mental and emotional health. I appreciated an interview I saw with Louis C.K. where he talks about driving one day when out of the blue an emotional song he remembered from high school came on the radio and he immediately felt this heavy sadness. His first reaction was to get on his phone, text people, distract himself from the pain. Then he changed his mind, pulled over and cried. Hard. He decided to feel the pain and enjoy the relief he felt after allowing himself to fully feel what he was feeling. I'm not at all saying people dealing with severe depression just need to feel it and move on. Not at all. But I do think there is under-rated value in entering into our pain and accepting it as purposeful.

    The conversation you had with your wonderful mom (and resulting insight you gained) gave me goosebumps.

    The world needs more like you :)

    1. Thank you Brooke! It was a word vomit of sorts. Life gets hard, and people stumble and feel their life is worth ending. I can't tolerate it, because I know it is simply not true. That is such a great story about Louis C.K. I hadn't heard that one. It's so true though, often we think what we need is to have someone take away our pain. That's what I, the person I talked to, and many others, have dealth with at one time or another. What we really need instead is to feel the pain, assess what it means to us and what we can learn from it, let it run its course, and move on. There is nothing wrong with pain. Pain means you're living. We all will have it. Ask anyone with an addiction to drugs, they take the drugs to numb the pain, and in the end can't feel happy anymore either.

      My mom was a fountain of wisdom. She continues to teach me even after she has gone from this world. I am a lucky girl to have her as a mother.

  2. This is beautiful, Lana. I love how you opened up about the sweet conversation with your mom. And how true that sometimes parents wait until their children (usually an adult) are ready to hear the reality of life and hard lessons. Your third point is one I needed to hear today. Thank you for this!

    1. I'm so glad you stopped by and gave it a read. Feel free to share it with anyone that might need a reminder. I am just so saddened that anyone could ever think their life is not worth living. Or that it matters what we all think about them. Every soul is worth an infinite amount, and it doesn't matter what they've done. We all come into this world as innocent children, sure we take steps along the way and some of us take terrible ones, but we are all still worth something.


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