Sometimes, it’s hard not to feel like a victim when bad things keep happening to you. It’s easier to ask “Why me?” and curl up in a ball and wallow rather than get back up and work past your obstacles. The truth is, nothing is guaranteed in this life. That goes for your health, relationships, career, etc. If you take a second to look around you, you’ll realize you aren’t the only “victim.”
Last week, I got into two car accidents. Yes, TWO. One was a minor incident in a parking lot while the other was a major crash on the parkway that resulted in getting my car towed and being dropped off at some random taco place to wait for a ride home. I couldn’t help but feel completely discouraged. I had a clean accident history prior to this. Driving had always been one of the only things that didn’t scare me. I pretty much used my long drives with good music as therapy to alleviate the anxiety I felt over, well, everything else. But now, it seemed my freedom was stripped from me, and yet another stressor was added to my list.
That, on top of recently battling COVID and struggling with my mental health and a boatload of over issues that had been adding up over the years, felt like my breaking point — which I’d thought I’d already faced countless times before. It felt like punishment. It felt like I was somehow attracting all these negative occurrences while everyone around me was just cruising by, unfazed. And that led me to feel anger and resentment toward others, again asking, “Why me?”
I’m the one doing the work. I’m the one going to therapy twice a week to be a better human. I’m the one only seeing a select few loved ones during the pandemic to keep the vulnerable safe. I’m the one who thinks things through and is always prepared. I’m the one, despite all this, still suffering every single day.
But then I took a second to breathe. I took a second to calm down. And instead of feeling my body relax, I felt the panic within me — not subside but actually grow stronger. And I allowed that to happen, because I knew there was simply no fighting it. I needed to release all these pent up emotions before I could move one.
Once I did, I was able to listen to my rational voice — the one that’s highly intuitive but rarely acknowledged or heard. And I realized that, while all of the above might be true, I don’t know what goes on in other people’s lives.
The fact is, I’m still here. I’m still alive and breathing. I have my health and a supportive family and friends checking in on me, a boyfriend willing to drive me where I need to go until I get a new car, two bosses who make sure I prioritize my mental health above my work, and all these other amazing people and situations I take for granted every single day.
Then, I thought about my brother, who almost lost his life to kidney disease a few years ago, who has to worry about being immunocompromised during a global health crisis and has to take medication just to stay alive. I thought about my father, who lost his sister to cancer; my mom-mom and pop-pop, who lost their daughter; my grandma, who lost her husband right before the pandemic, after years of caring for him as he battled dementia; my friend, who can’t even talk to her parents without being ridiculed; those who are less privileged than I am, who would die for the opportunities and blessings I have.
We’re all carrying heavy weight — just in different suitcases. And some of ours might spill out of our bags and onto the ground for everyone to see as we run around, frantic, trying to pick it all up; while others are kept zipped away and hidden. But it’s still there. And it’s still exhausting to lug around. But we still do it. And we do it as best as we can.
We humans are resilient, more so than we realize. We can use our pain and our struggles not to resent or ridicule others, but to understand and support them, the way we wish to be understood and supported. We can let the world turn us soft, not bitter, so we can treat others with more empathy and kindness. We can learn to dwell on our blessings the way we typically dwell on our problems. And we can pick up our shit, no matter how long it takes or how flustered it makes us, acknowledge its weight, and still move forward.