Home > advice -- not that you asked, I will hug you > an invincible summer: don’t give up

an invincible summer: don’t give up


Today, my heart broke for a stranger on the internet. I chanced across a girl I didn’t know, pleading for something to hold on to. I don’t know her. She doesn’t know me. We owe each other nothing. No one would know if I pushed the back button – except me. And I couldn’t, because her pain made my heart achy.

Here’s the truth about hard times (singular or an epic series of you’ve got to be KIDDING me moments): they suck. Difficult times are full of darkness, doubt, and pain. They’re not a skipping the rainbows kind of feeling. They weasel under your skin, until you can’t breathe, until your tears won’t stop, until all the goodness seems dim.

You’ve been there. Last week, last year, or five minutes ago – that space has your name carved on the wall. You know the lightless valleys. You know the silence that cloys and lurks, thick and stifling. You know.

And I know, too. I’ve had my dark moments. I’ve lost myself in a heap of tears, wailing on the bathroom floor. I’ve wondered how things would get better, if they ever could. I’ve meditated on the gaping chasm where my heart was supposed to be, feeling a sucking wound whenever I inhaled or exhaled.

Sometimes, there are no words. Feelings expand into a space, leaving little room for breath, let alone speech. But there’s a pain there, a drumming beat of an unwelcome melody. It tests your resolve and frays your patience, cruel with purpose. It hurts, unquestionably. There’s nothing to contest. It hurts.

I’ve lost things in my life. People, potential, a hope, a dream, a friend, a lover, and pieces of myself. It’s never easy. It’s never simple. It isn’t something that you can just walk off. There are things that I can’t even imagine losing. Even so, it happens. Things disassemble, even as we try to repair them. Hope dwindles in the face of reality, where what we wish conflicts with what is. Even when we try, so very hard, we don’t always win. Sometimes, we have to let go in order to really live. In the dark, where the pain seems to fill up all your senses, know that you’re not alone. At the end of the day, when you’re sitting on the bathroom floor, or you’re curled up in bed, it’s love that gets you through. It’s the people who rely on you. It’s you relying on people. It’s faith—in whatever form that comes in. It’s acknowledging the ache, the vulnerability, instead of ignoring it; then, it’s remembering the love that still remains in your life. It comes in many forms, and from many unexpected places.

It gets better. Things change. Things can change. I’m not an expert, but I’ve known a few trenches, and as silly as it may sound: things (life) gets better. And people are there, even when you don’t realize it. People who will listen and try to help. People who give a damn. People who will encourage and support you, without an obligation to do so.

That’s love in its many forms. Right where you forgot to look for it. Right where it wasn’t supposed to be. Right where you’d least expect to find it—or smack in the middle of where its always been. It’s a love that doesn’t stifle or intrude; it’s a love that allows you to heal. To feel the deepest ache imaginable, to scream and rail against it with your whole being, but still arrive at the other side of it. Not unaffected, but stronger. Not free of the lessons, but not tethered by them. It’s love that sees you through it all, even when you might not see it. A hug, a few sincere and warm words, and other gestures of kindness. A late night conversation, a telephone call when you need it the most, cheesecake and coffee—or these simple words: I get it. That makes all the difference.

That is something I love about twitter: when you’re having a shitfest of a bad day, there’s someone’s there. You’re not yelling into a void. You’re not staring into a blank abyss. You have a voice. And people hear you.

Know that you’re not alone. Know someone is pulling for you. You are seen. You are being heard. Pain, I think, is something that we’re often trained to hide. Sweep it under the rug. Square our shoulders. Brush it off. Walk it off. A thousand idioms and stereotypes.

My advice, when times are tough, is to keep going. Acknowledge the ache. The crap. The pain. The rage. The loss. Look that demon in the eye. And refuse to let it win. The courage, the strength – it’s there, in you. It’s there, waiting for you to tap into it.

Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Don’t look back. It gets better.

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” ― Albert Camus

  1. April 11, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    This speaks to my heart, Ali. Just what I needed to read at the end of this challenging day. Thank you! *big hugs*

    • April 12, 2012 at 11:40 am

      My pleasure, Blake!! Big hugs, back!!

  2. bhenick
    April 11, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    Well said.

    This was just the thing for my current frame of mind, as if the Universe inspired you to write it for my personal benefit. So thanks, Ali. And thanks, Universe, even if I wasn’t at all meant to take it so personally.

    • April 12, 2012 at 11:41 am

      You are very, very welcome. I’m glad that this helped — that means a lot to me. Thank you for taking the time to comment! 🙂

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