As you know, I send a spiritualigious newsletter every Monday, except for the last Monday of the month.
Last Monday, January 30, you received the year’s first non-issue newsletter—the same one you’ll get at the end of each subsequent month in 2023.
And, last week, January 30, instead of doing my usual off-newsletter-week’s task—ROTB’s end of the month bookkeeping—I sat paralyzed in front of my computer.
I stare blankly.
I stare blankly at the icons.
I stare blankly at the blue background.
I just stare.
I can’t get myself to hover the mouse to the bottom of the screen, to activate the dock, from where I could launch one of many different applications to start my to-dos.
I just sit there.
I just stare.
The thought of banging my head into the desk comes to mind.
I wonder what it would feel like to smash my forehead into the wood.
I know it’s a terrible idea.
But I still want to do it.
Just to feel something other than this.
I move the black, split-key keyboard out of the way to clear the space and think about lowering my chair to help me get the angle right.
“It will jolt you from your funk,” I think, “Do it full force.”
But I don’t follow through.
I just sit there.
Until, about ten minutes later, I take myself upstairs and put myself into bed for a nap.
I don’t need to tell you this. Any of this.
I didn’t need to tell you that I have or had dark thoughts.
But it feels important that I do—that I tell you. That I be honest.
So many clergy folk—and CEOs, and regular ol’ folk for that matter—like to pretend that they have it all together.
The unspoken assumption is either (a) these people have so much luck/grace that hard times don’t befall them or (b) they are so spiritually advanced that they don’t have hard times when things are tough.
Either way, it’s bullshit.
Everyone has hard days.
Even if we pretend otherwise.
We all have hard days.
It’s just a question of whether we are going to admit to them or not.
Years ago, I noticed that my moods weren’t constant—there would be days I was up and days I wasn’t.
And, so, on one of the good days, I made a plan.
I decided to leave a proverbial trail of breadcrumbs.
I figured that if I left a roadmap to where I currently was, then when I stumbled into a hard time in the future, I would see the breadcrumb trail and take that route back to level and be good in a jiffy.
It didn’t work that way.
The next time I found myself in a rough spot, I looked at the proverbial trail of breadcrumbs and thought, “Who the fuck didn’t clean this shit up?”
There is no way out but through.
Wading out of a hard time is awful.
But it’s really all we can do.
There is no panacea. No miracle fix. No post-it note on the side of a monitor—“take time to notice what it right”—that will instantly un-funk a funk.
Sure I can take a jog, make healthy eating choices, and call loved ones for support. And, I do.
But no one thing is going to be the thing that always works.
Getting through a rough time requires both time and compassion.
Both. People forget about the second part.
Time doesn’t heal all wounds.
Time and compassion do.
What I know is that I need to not beat myself up for having a hard time when I’m having a hard time.
Berating myself for having a hard time is the equivalent of kicking my ass for having been kicked in the ass.
Beating myself up when I’m having a hard time adds fuel to the fire.
I am fortunate to have learned to not do that.
And to have learned that sometimes putting myself back into bed is the best thing I can do.
There was a reason last Monday was particularly hard.
I’m not going to tell you what that thing was.
I am not not telling you to be withholding. (We both know I’m quite forthright.)
I’m not telling what the thing was as I don’t want you to judge whether or not my reason was a good reason to feel blue.
Because if you think it was or not doesn’t matter.
Moreover, I don’t want anyone to hold their experience up to mine to see if their hard time is, by comparison, “hard time worthy.”
If you are having a hard time, you are having a hard time.
It’s OK for people not to be OK all the time.
It’s OK for people to take care of themselves.
It’s OK for you to not be OK all the time.
It’s OK for you to take care of yourself.
Here are six words that I say during the announcements every week at the Saturday service—“it’s OK to not be OK.”