05 March 2013

It Could Be Worse, Suck It Up

Thank you so much for your sweet, encouraging comments on Friday's post. It means a lot.  LPC left a comment that really struck at something I've been thinking about for awhile and I want to talk about it today.  She said, "It's not emo, it's real. You don't owe anyone cheer. Your voice is valuable whatever the mood."  How very, very true.  

I tend to apologize when my posts aren't fluffy and light and upbeat, and I hate that.  The reason I do it is because of what I perceive to be a troublesome double standard in the little corner of blogworld that we occupy.  On the one hand, we tend to criticize bloggers when they only show the edited versions of their lives.  That is, when bloggers only post pictures of beautifully-styled interiors, perfectly-dressed children, and expertly-prepared gourmet meals, all while traipsing about in stylish high-low ensembles, we as readers tend to call them out and tell them to "Keep it real! Show us the bad stuff too!"  But what I've seen and experienced is that when bloggers do share the more real aspects of their lives, people jump all over them in comments, telling them they shouldn't complain because they "have it so good" and "there are starving children, dontcha know?!?!"  

So which is it then?  Happy, upbeat Stepford Wives in every post, forsaking content and real dialogue to keep things conflict-free in the comment zone? Or posts filled with snapshots of everyday life, bad stuff included? I have steered mainly towards option #1, because I like to keep everyone happy and I really hate negative comments.  But enough is enough.

I received a comment a few weeks ago on a post I wrote about how difficult 2012 was for me. I was told that I should feel grateful because at least my husband wasn't overseas risking his life for his country.  

So much wrong with this comment. Have any of you read Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning”? Frankl was an Auschwitz survivor and a psychiatrist. His take on the “it could be worse, suck it up” argument is that suffering is an individual experience and that the fact that “worse” suffering exists doesn’t invalidate your own experience.  I see this attitude so much in online comments and on Facebook, when anyone complains about anything, someone makes a flippant "First World problem" remark.  We all live in the First World and we all have problems and we shouldn't pretend that those problems don't bother us, just because someone else's problems may be different or bigger.

I saved a comment I saw posted somewhere recently because it so perfectly expressed how I feel about the whole situation: My best friend feels guilty for having depression because her childhood wasn’t as bad as mine, and you know what I tell her? “the situation others are in does not erase the pain you have”. Really, all that phrase [it could be worse] is ever used for is to negate the pain that someone feels. It’s good to be grateful, but your brain does not filter pain through a “worldly context” cortex. Do we tell people not to go to the doctor for broken bones because it’s not cancer? No, we do not, because that would be ridiculous. We shouldn’t treat mental pain any different than physical pain. Different levels of pain require different levels of treatment or different solutions, but every single pain requires a treatment or solution. Ignoring a toothache can lead to life-threatening infection.

I'm not saying we should all get a blanket excuse to mope around like Eeyore 24/7.  Most of the time, I'm a pretty upbeat person and I try to have an optimistic outlook on things.  But there are days, weeks, seasons of life that just aren't as positive as we would like them to be.  And I am done making apologies for that and writing sugarcoated blog posts because a reader thinks I should just be grateful that it isn't worse.

You know what? I am grateful it isn't worse.  In the midst of my problems,  I am still fully capable of acknowledging the fact that I lead an incredibly privileged life.  One doesn't negate the other. It is possible to be grateful while still hoping for improvement.  To tell people otherwise is disrespectful to the human experience.


The enchanted home said...

Right on Sarah. I applaud you for being an honest voice and having an authentic message. I absolutely agree that pain and suffering is "totally relative". OF COURSE it could be worse, it always could but how does that change how you or someone else is feeling NOW? It doesn't' so its irrelevant. Its something people say when they are uncomfortable and don't know what else to say...end of story.
Yes it does help to focus on the good. My grandmother always believed, a woman of great wisdom that you need to give into sorrow...embrace it allow it to take you over, have a few good cries, she said there is a "cleansing" that comes of it....when you are cried out, you realize you have to look up, not down. You then have to get proactive and start coming up with a gameplan..baby steps at first. Small doable things. We have ALL been in a funk of sorts I am confident when I say it.....and I wish you well, hope you get the clarify you need and may bright rays of sunshine be shining your way soon!

{Jessica} said...

Thank you for writing this post today. I, too, have had the negative comments that come with sharing the 'real' parts of my life - that aren't always so fun - on my blog. It's a damned if you do, damned if you don't kind of thing. One comment in particular condemned me (in very harsh, tear-inducing terms) for complaining about pregnancy symptoms after expressing a strong desire to have a baby. Well, news flash for that person - pregnancy isn't a bowl of cherries! And I'm not going to be the type of blogger to just pretend that it is. So, I totally understand where you're coming from in this post today. I just wish people wouldn't be so judgmental and negative across the board. I get so sick of seeing bloggers trying to rip each other apart. If we could all just be more accepting of each other and understand that life is made up of both good and bad, no matter your situation, I think the blog world would be a much more friendly, uplifting place. I personally, have no desire to tear fellow bloggers down. I may not agree with every blogger I follow in every post that they write, but I'm okay with that. To each her own. Thanks again for addressing this today. It was refreshing to read.

xx BHB said...

So beautifully written!!! You're so right.

(and nasty bitch comments is why I've never allowed anonymous comments on my blog)

Portuguese Prepster said...

Great post-I think we are all affected by different issues at different times in our lives. Everyone's blog is there own place to share or not share what they are currently feeling. I personally always get a little nervous about sharing my personal feelings on blog, but I would hope that if I did readers would be understanding! I always admire those who share.

Katiellirb said...

This is a fantastic post! So heartfelt and honest and more importantly, true! Thank you for writing the words I've always wanted to but could never get the courage to type.

Annabel Manners said...

Well said, Miss Belle. Life is tricky enough without added pressure from bossy Internet strangers! :) Take it easy this week - spring is coming! xoxo

LPC said...

I considered it an honor to have said anything that resonated with you. If we all denied our feeling all the time because someone somewhere might feel worse, well, you can see where that gets us:).

Of course no one is advocating whining and self-centeredness, but humans are born with the capacity for sorrow for good reason.


Unknown said...

I love you, sweet friend! You're right, we're all different and have different feelings about situations, but we should reflect on those, and not just sweep them under the rug. Proud of you always and know that I love you!! xxoo

JGIWC said...

Great post. I think you hit the nail on the head.

Laura C said...

Wonderful post! I could not agree more. Our brain does not filter our emotions through the context of others and thank goodness for that. It's hard enough living in your own head- imagine if we had to take other people's experiences in to account (on second thought, I guess in some senses that's what bloggers do). I for one, truly appreciate the honest posts- and judging by the feedback above- so do others.
One slightly related item that I remind myself of often is something my Mom says “Don't compare your inside to someone else's outside.” You never know the battle someone else is fighting.