The Perils of Positivity

A friend recently decided to stop doing what she loves — and has been doing for twenty years — to focus on a health challenge. Her Facebook posts have been rife with “all is well,” “this is perfect planning by the Divine,” and “deep appreciation for this time of rest.” The comments, intended to support, talk of “cosmic levels” and “perfect order.” Fuck that.

What happened to having a good old-fashioned tantrum at the shit that life can dish out?

I don’t endorse wallowing in sadness over the perception that something isn’t fair and I don’t recommend sitting in the pity pool for long. But damn, feel it first before bulldozing it with talk of Divine Order.

Why? Because that shit sticks to your ribs. You might not be able to see it. Maybe you can’t feel it. But it’s there. Bubbling under the surface, buried in the cotton candy verbiage used to guard against the fear that if you feel what society labels “negative” — the anger, the rage, the sadness, the fear — that you won’t ever have a positive thought again. That you’ll drown in a tsunami comprised of every drop of anger, rage, sadness and fear you’ve pushed down with positive pablum like, “I’m so grateful for this experience.”

You know what else happens when you cover how you really feel in positivity? Little by little, it ends up leaking out like toxic ooze and splatters all over the people you care about most. Or worse, it erupts as one giant volcano of verbal bile that you inevitably have to apologize for.

Worse, painting over those “negative” emotions keeps you stuck. When you you use the brush of positivity to convince yourself “it’s all OK” you end up confident on the outside but a mess inside because all of the crap that’s churning underneath prevents you from believing it. The war being fought by those polarizing energies is debilitating. And exhausting.

The irony is that the more positive a spin you put on it to friends and family, the more inspiring phrases, memes and quotes you post on social media, the more anchored you become what you’re trying to avoid.

Feel it, damn it! Break a dish. Kick a punching bag. Sob. Suck your thumb. Be in the darkness. The light will find you without your help. Honor your humanity as well as your soul. Then you really will be grateful for the door that closed.