Friday, June 06, 2008

Really, Really Good

A few days ago I heard a news item regarding Ted Kennedy's brain surgery, namely that afterwards he said through a representative, "I feel like a million bucks." Huh. Should we assume that was the Percocet talking? Or maybe that what he really said is, "I feel like shit" and when you put that through the spinner, the rep coughs out the million bucks. Like playing the record backward, maybe? for those of you old enough to know what a record is.

I've known some people here and there that have had surgery for a variety of reasons, and I can't recall that a one of them proclaimed a million buck state afterwards. More so, I remember groaning, vomiting, and begging for opiates which all strike me as perfectly reasonable responses to surgery.

I don't believe people I know are made of weaker stuff than Ted Kennedy--although you do need to be pretty tough to walk away from a drowning woman in your sunk car--sorry, Ted, I know it was years ago but I bet that's little comfort to her family.

Anyway, this Times article about the almost pathological need to be upbeat, to be okay, to be feeling great! was timely. I see it in myself and others around me, but I also know that it can feel like a huge relief to admit that you're miserable, sad, without hope, possibly desiring to pack it in, or if not pack it in, to go to sleep for a long time only to wake up when things are much better. How little room there is to express such things, even to yourself.

Several jobs back, I encountered a very psychotic person who had a very sane grip on his process. He used to say, "Thoughts are like waves ... they come and they go." I thought that was a pretty spot-on observation, and just the same for feelings. Even the most overwhelming feelings is just that--a wave that will knock you down, tossing you head over ass, getting salt water in your eyes and sand in your nethers, but then you'll get up again, maybe a bit scratched or bruised, but essentially okay.

That's what I tell myself and I do believe it most of the time but there's not much popular support for it. Almost the opposite--acknowledging these feelings is like a personal failure, as though you've not been able to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps out of your sadness, something you ought to be able to do unless you're a huge loser. I blame Oprah, and Tom Cruise of course and Dr. Phil, too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love this post. And now I'm going to let my toddler watch tv and crawl into bed...