The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of it.
-Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on love and life from Dear Sugar
Has truer advice ever been given? I don’t think so.
One of the women I respect and admire for their courage and strength is Cheryl Strayed. If you haven’t already, I strongly recommend you read her book, Tiny Beautiful Things. If you haven’t heard of her, Reese Witherspoon plays the role of Cheryl Strayed in the movie Wild, which is the story of Cheryl’s solo hike of more than 1,000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. Wild is also a book. I haven’t read it, but I did see the movie. This woman is amazing. She has had a hellish life, she tackled the motherfucking shit out of it, and has a successful life giving advice, encouragement, support, and words of wisdom to others on life and love via her Dear Sugar podcast. She is also the author of Torch (Haven’t read yet) and Brave Enough, which is a collection of Cheryl quotes (and is amazing). Anyway, this post isn’t about Cheryl or plugging her books or podcast (but seriously, check her out). I came to know her by way of my therapist, who happens to be another woman I respect and admire.
You don’t need me to tell you that life doesn’t always go the way we would like. Sometimes bad things happen to us and/or our loved ones; death of a loved one, divorce, heartbreak, fired, mental disorders (disordered mind), abuse, addictions, and countless other possibilities.
In the face of these tragic life occurrences/events, we need to allow ourselves time to mourn and come to terms with what’s happened. Don’t stuff it down, or distract yourself, or use substances to kill the feelings. Let yourself feel them. Sit with your feelings, feel all of the hurt that comes, don’t close off to it, cry your eyes out, don’t get out of bed for a couple of days, just let yourself hurt. It is so okay to hurt, and to feel the hurt. Once you’ve allowed yourself a reasonable amount of time to feel, cry, hurt, and you’ve stayed in bed a day or two (no more than two days, you will get stuck if you push it longer than that), then it’s time to take the next step. I’m not saying you have to forget what happened, I’m not saying you have to forgive what happened, I’m saying you have to keep living.
In the very wise words of Cheryl, it’s time to tackle the motherfucking shit out of life. It’s time to face it head on. You are cried out, you’ve let yourself feel the worst of the worst pain of the shit storm life handed you. Now you need to stand up on your wobbly legs and begin moving forward. If you need treatment, then seek it. If you need a therapist, then get one. If you need a support group, then find one. Whatever you need to keep moving forward in life go out and get it. Do not let the pain of whatever happened stop you from living. You have this life, it’s yours. Own it, embrace it, rise above, overcome, heal, fight for it.
If it’s addiction, kick it’s ass. Whatever the substance is, you don’t need it. Dig deeper, let your mind and your heart explore what the underlying problem is. What are you trying to drown out? What are you trying to not feel? What are you trying to numb? Get yourself into treatment, talk to a counselor/therapist, work it out so you can save your life; because believe it or not, your life is worth saving!
If it’s a mental health issue you’re struggling with, then get help. Get a therapist, get on meds, treat it holistically (if it’s effective), be more active (go for walks, do yoga, join a gym), meditate to calm your mind, eat a healthier diet (I would suggest any of these or all of these in combination with a therapy. Therapist wasn’t so much and option or suggestion, as it was a requirement).
If it’s the death of a loved one that you are struggling with, then find a grief support group. Go to meetings with others who are going through what you are, who can understand and relate to the pain you are feeling. Connect with people who have gone through this and have come out the other side of this pain able to live their life again. If this isn’t enough then find a therapist, maybe temporarily get on some meds to balance your emotions until you’re on more stable emotional ground.
If it is childhood abuse you are struggling with then go to the phone right now, pick it up, and schedule an appointment with a therapist because I can guaran-damn-tee you will not be able to process through the mind-fuck that comes with that on your own. There is no amount of walking, yoga, meditation, healthy eating, holistic remedies that will help you fully work through and process all of the emotional wounds that have been cut so incredibly deep. You cannot even begin to imagine, to comprehend, to wrap your mind around how far-reaching the damage of childhood abuse is until you’ve seen a therapist and you’ve done the work, and you’ve opened your mind and heart, and you have been so completely and brutally honest with yourself. I don’t think it even matters much what type of childhood abuse you’ve suffered, it is all so damaging and ingrained. Having experienced just about every form of abuse possible, I would say for myself, that the mental/emotional abuse is the worst. That shit has lasting damage that you don’t even realize for years after, or until you seek therapy, even still it takes time to realize how damaging it was. It creeps into every part of your life, no exaggeration, it affects every single part of your life. So, if abuse is what you’re struggling with, stop reading now and call a therapist.
This is what I take Cheryl’s words of wisdom to mean….whatever it is that life has to throw at you, you’ve just gotta deal with it head on. The emotions are in you, they aren’t going anywhere and neither are you; unless you want to live a miserable life, you and your emotional trauma need to figure out a way to live together and work as a team to process through all of the pain, hurt, and suffering that is keeping you from truly living your life.
And it is YOUR life, so tackle the motherfucking shit out of it!