“My life shouldn’t be this way” — a retrospective on anger over things you can’t control
This piece was written 3 years ago as my mom was struggling with battling the cancer that took her away and as I had just gotten back from living with her in the South of France, to Paris.
I was about to turn 25 and an only child and going back and forth the two cities while trying to keep my head above water at a time where I was supposed to finish my degree and start a job. These were the darkest times of my life and a long walk has been walked since then. After my mom passed, I flew away, and struggled with high-functioning depression and nihilism for quite some time before I was able to believe in anything again. It took time to be able to laugh wholeheartedly again and get away from the self-pity, but I made it. I’m still breathing.
I’ve been struggling for the last six months with a feeling close to high levels of stress and anxiety, that resembles more and more the beginning of a depression episode. Something I have never experienced, but am pretty familiar with since most of my family — including my mother — has been confronted with depression and maniac episodes, as well as addiction.
This all started when I came back from a 5-months semester abroad that allowed me to escape for a while a situation I’ve had a really hard time to face on my own.
As I was trying to cope with daily life’s simplest tasks, such as cooking for myself, or taking a shower, or not falling apart crying on the floor, the thought occurring behind my tearful eyes was mostly “Life shouldn’t be this way, I should not be going through this”. The more I repeated this mantra, the more pain it brought, only bringing more tears and more desire to break down, sit on the floor, and dry myself out of all my tears.
From the moment I was waking up to the one I would go to sleep, I was repeating to myself “I shouldn’t be here, I should have the right to be somewhere else, somewhere far from all the pain, somewhere where, at least, I could try to heal myself, far from the uncontrollable and terribly contagious pain of others”. I dreamt of another opportunity to escape. I wished I could free myself from all the ties, all at once, and just leave it all behind. Leave this place life had brought me back to at the end of my studies, leave all the dreadful memories linked to it, leave the past, but also the present behind. I also wished I could let myself go into denial, into a warm bath of negated thoughts, fears and feelings. I wanted to give up. On a situation I was feeling unable to struggle with any longer, on a family I was feeling was only judging my actions from afar with no idea of what I was going through, and the terrible mess and amount of pain I had to face completely alone, at the very beginning of my adult life.
The feeling behind the tears was that what I was going through was terribly UNFAIR. And it was. If I look around myself for the incentives and representations society has been watering me with ever since the very first years of my life, then yes, my life isn’t the perfect, painfree, troublefree, anxietyfree one I “should” be enjoying at the zenith of my youth. People my age are told they should live their lives to the fullest, travel, be on their way to find a fulfilling job, think about love and sex, be carefree, and thrive from the liveliest years of their lives. Before it’s too late. That’s, indeed, what stupid commercials would want us to believe. And if it’s true for twentysomethings like me, every age in life gets its counterparts. “If you don’t have a Rolex by the time you hit 50, then you have miserably failed at your own life”, a former French president once said…
“Things shouldn’t be this way”, “Life shouldn’t be this painful”, “I should not be going through this”, “I don’t deserve to be crushed this way”, “Why am I in this alone ?”. These were the thoughts my watery, swollen eyes would have liked to silently put in the face of the world. I kept on repeating the words in my head, inflicting myself the “Great Pain of Fate”. I felt miserable and angry at many people for leaving me alone through this. Until I realized : there is no way life should or should not be, life doesn’t follow a 4-year strategy plan imagined by some gloomy marketing director. We don’t have to put labels on our experiences, on the different times of our existence. In every situation, there is strength to be found, a silver lining to be seen, and if not, the irony to cruelly laugh about it.
Don’t judge your own experiences, as painful as they are, in the light of a marketed illusion of what a perfect life should be. There are no perfect lives. Every one is going through shit at some point of their life. You may not be able to experiment what you thought your life would be at this point, but that doesn’t mean you have to blame yourself or the others. Do not be ashamed. You cannot control everything. Sometimes, being a human being hurts. Badly. But instead of looking for a scapegoat to desperately ease our pain, we must acknowledge our weaknesses, and others’. We must be strong enough to give ourselves the compassion others aren’t willing to give us, and forgive them at the same time. Because whatever paths brought us here, there is no going back. But we can, at least, decide how we want to deal with that roller-coaster of a ride. Wherever it may lead us.
You’re still breathing.