You know how people talk about the calm before the storm? It’s that weird moment of peace that settles over you just before some metaphorical explosion takes over your life. You’re happy as a clam with your family, and your mom gets diagnosed with cancer. You feel like you’re just hitting your stride at work, and you find out the company is downsizing. You have a fabulous date with someone, and he tells you the next day he’s just not that into being in a relationship. No matter what, there’s that moment where everything seems peaceful. And then shit falls apart.
Recently, my shit has fallen apart…or so it seemed. I felt out of whack. I felt put upon. I felt like there was a joke, and I was on the outside looking in just waiting to realize what was so damn funny about derailing me.
So, I did what everyone else would do. I threw a gigantic pity party. I invited all of my friends – via text messages, instant messages, emails, phone calls, and crying pleas – to join me in my self-absorbed lameness. I got so grossed out with food that I barely ate for three days. Then I became ravenous and ate a cheeseburger, fries, several beers and a cookie. I retreated and laid around in bed feeling like a serious loser. I got empowered and did some yoga. I watched a happy movie. I watched a sad movie. I drank a bottle of wine. I boycotted liquids. I considered dying my hair, but settled on a rinse-out glaze. I cried. I laughed. I took a sleeping pill. I stayed awake. I watched reruns of Law & Order. I wrote in my journal. I wrote mean emails. I deleted them. I sent nice emails. I regretted them.
What’s weird is that we can all recognize the calm before the storm – in retrospect. Hell, the beauty of hindsight is its clarity when looking back…and oh how I realize the splendor and the moment before the pain.
But what about the moment when calm returns? If I’m playing my cards well, my life – in general – is calm. So, wouldn’t it be natural for calm to come back again? Yet, when something upsetting has happened, bouncing back feels so difficult. It feels like I’m betraying myself and the process I’ve just endured to feel better. But isn’t that the goal? Isn’t that what I want?
The answer for me is yes and yes. I need to indulge myself in the pity party. It is what it is for a reason – you have to take care of yourself by giving in to those emotions. Doing so healthfully makes a boatload of sense. But when it feels right, let calm come back. There’s nothing wrong with continuing to lick your wounds even though the feeling of wellbeing, happiness and structure return.
I would love to know how you all deal with the upsetting and unsettling loss of calm and the way you welcome it back into your life.
In the meantime, I invite you all to join a pretty serious pity party (I throw a good one!) and an even better “I’m over it” party.