Lots of things have happened in the news this week. Lots of things have happened in other people’s lives this week. There is a lot of stress, upset and anger in the air. Facebook is a melting pot of unkind exchanges, arguments, and blame. It’s not a nice environment to be in and I find myself shrinking away from it and burying myself in other things.
Several times in the past week, something horrible has happened either on the news, or to a friend or acquaintance; the kind of horrible things nobody should have to face. Ashamedly, when these things have happened, the first thought that has popped into my head has been ‘so?’.
You lost your bag, so? You broke up with your significant other, so? Your housing plans fell through, so? So what? You’re still living, breathing, healthy. You’ve still got both your parents. You’ve still got a steady income, a place to eat, clothes to wear. You’re still richer than most of the world’s population. Nobody’s died, things can be fixed, worse things have happened, I could go on.
I don’t say any of these things. It’s bad enough that I think them. I hate that I think them. The problem is I compare everything to Mum’s illness and death. When compared to that, a lot of things seem small or insignificant in comparison. They’re fixable.
Sometimes, this is a really helpful way to think. I certainly stress less about little things that used to really bug me. It can help me to have a clear head when dealing with difficult situations. It’s made me more resilient.
But it’s not a kind way to think. I feel as though I’m becoming ‘hardened’. I’ve always liked that I am able to empathise with a wide range of people. I love that I feel able to talk to different people about different things. I love that people feel able to talk to me. It’s an incredible privilege and very humbling, and I don’t want to lose it.
On the whole, I’m pretty good at giving myself a time out when these thoughts strike. A little bit of time to breathe, think, and then respond. I’m not sure of any other way around it.
Something that seems so small to me is something which can seem massive to someone else. It’s all relative. If a person has never gone through anything particularly difficult, then they’re more likely to find something upsetting that I might barely blink at. Other people will have gone through a lot more than me, and something which I find incredibly distressing, they may well see as nothing.
But I worry that as time goes by, I will only become more ‘hardened’. I worry that I am beginning to close off more. Sometimes I feel like shaking people, shouting at them; anything at all to make them realise how lucky they are. To stop dwelling on the seemingly insignificant and look around at all they’ve got instead of all they haven’t got. There would be no point in doing anything like that, though. It wouldn’t help. The saying ‘you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone’ wasn’t born out of thin air, but it’s not a great thing to yell in someone’s face.
I don’t want to become hardened. In many ways, I wish I still worried about things which now seem insignificant. I want the old me back. I don’t want to be angry, I don’t want to be hard, I don’t want to be grieving, I just want to be me.