There’s a line from the movie Bambi that my mother loves. It’s the part where Thumper says, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
My mother told me that all the time when I was growing up, until it became abbreviated to her just giving me a look and saying, “Thumper!” Which meant of course that whatever was coming out of my mouth at that moment was anything but nice, and that it was probably time for me to shut up.
Today’s email is arriving in your inbox much later than usual. Why? Because Thumper. Because I am in a mood this week, and I’ve spent the day trying to come up with even just one nice thing to share with you.
But you know what? I don’t have one. I don’t have even just one nice thing to share with you. It’s that kind of week. The kind of week where someone accidentally bumps into you at the grocery store and it takes a tremendous amount of willpower not to turn around and punch them in their stupid face.
So I didn’t send you an email this morning. Because in the absence of anything nice to say I wasn’t willing to just say some bullshit fake thing; I would rather not send you an email at all than to send one that isn’t real.
But it’s strange, isn’t it, how we’ve been taught to feel that we cannot be seen when we aren’t happy?
We have a culture that fetishizes happiness to an unhealthy degree, where happiness is the overarching goal of everything ever, to the point where we feel that we must make ourselves small and remain out of sight if we’re feeling anything less than shiny and nice and hopeful.
And I am not feeling shiny and nice and hopeful this week.
Everything is fine, for the most part. Nothing “happened”. It’s just one of those weeks, you know? Where personal struggles and family drama collide with the fact that my country’s government is enacting sexist, racist, xenophobic, elitist, planet-endangering policies, one after the other, and the combination of all of it is just too much. Sometimes, it’s just too much.
So for me to write to you and say that I feel anything other than cynical and scared and hopeless and angry right now, I’d be lying.
But what if we allowed each other to be in this space? What if we didn’t try to “fix” each other’s moods? What if we could accept and love each other even in the moments when we’re being judgmental, negative, angry little monsters who almost punch strangers in the face at the grocery store? What if we could accept and love ourselves in those moments?
I don’t know quite how to do that yet, but I’m working on it.
So no, I don’t have any wisdom for you. I don’t have any answers. But if you happen to be feeling like a bitter shrew who just CANNOT with ANYTHING right now, just know that you aren’t alone, and that hopefully next week will be better.
This is a recent email from my weekly Notes of Grit & Grace series, which I write and send each Friday exclusively for the members of my Patreon community. Want to receive these emails (and lots of other fun stuff)? Click here.