Looking back, the years 2014 and 2015 were kinda awful. I can only remember everyone saying that they’re glad those years are over and that, while surely some good stuff happened during them, we’re all better for having left them behind. I think it’s fair to say that they were, by and large, years of stagnation and suffocation for many, if not outright sorrow. I’m not just idly reminiscing and self-pitying here; what caught my attention is that this sort of feeling seems to be so widespread amongst my friends, both in-person and online.
2016 is shaping up to be a very different kind of year, but in the sense of the Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times”. This is a year of change, but change is rarely peaceful or easy. “Growing pains” is a phrase that doesn’t even do this sort of pain justice. For me especially, this has already been and will continue to be a major year in my life full of huge events that will forever change certain aspects of my paths. (More on that in later posts, if I choose to be generous.)
But…honestly, it’s tiring. Yes, I’m glad that these things are happening; after all that stagnation, this sort of break-out year is much-needed, but it hurts. It’ll be a year that even my bones will remember, to quote the God-Emperor of Dune, but that sort of lesson is one hard-won and harder-learned. It feels like I’m living through a phase of Cauda Draconis, where everything seems to be ending by falling apart, like the meat from the bones of an overly-cooked fish or siding from a dilapidated house. I’m glad to be shedding myself of all the gunk, cruft, and needless hangers-on from the past few years, but it’s stressful, painful, and outright damaging at times in the process. It’s all for the better; thus do I keep reminding myself, because it’s easy to lose sight and perspective when you’re down in the trenches like this.
For myself, I’m grateful that I’m able to withstand all the crap going on right now in my life, videlicet: I hate my new job and am waiting for someone somewhere else to retire so I can get a different place, I’m having to move out of my place within a month and a half, I’m undergoing the house-buying rigmarole for the first time, I’m headed out of the country later this year for an intensive week-long initiation, I need to save up more money than I can budget for in order to make all the foregoing happen, and I’m preparing for multiple lengthy and hardcore rituals throughout this spring and summer. Yet, all told, I’m able to stand on my own two feet and take each thing day by day, breath by breath, bite by bite and work towards it all done. If God has given me any grace or charisma, it’s that of patience and stability to weather these sorts of storms.
With sorrow, I cannot say the same for many of my friends, including those closest to me who are undergoing many of the same things I am. They’re falling apart at the seams, on the verge of breakdowns, and it’s all I can do to simply stand there for them. I’ve never been afflicted with serious mental illness, so I can’t truly empathize with the dark depths they’re going through; it’s all I can do to stand there, hold them, and reassure them that things will get better. If I could, I would swallow every anxious breath, every suicidal tear, every stressed headache, every sleepless night and take it all on myself so that they wouldn’t have to. I can’t, because the human condition can’t be alleviated in such a fairy-tale way, but I’d do it in a heartbeat all the same.
Yet, simply being there is all I can do, and what I can do has to be enough. It has to be enough for both me and for them, and especially for me. I can only take on so much before I start breaking down, too, and I can’t afford that. Not for myself, and especially not for those for whom I stand. They need me as much as I need them, and if I’m the only support left for us, then I’ve no choice but to be the support. I will do this.
I know that many of you are going through similar stages in your life, either on the part of being the support or needing support. What you do, whatever you can do, is enough. Sit satis; let that be sufficient. I know it’s hard; to know what you can do is sufficient is the hardest part about knowing and loving yourselves. All the same, it’s true. It is enough, and I love you for it. I love that you have taken on this most difficult of incarnations, in this most “interesting” of times, in this most trying of trials, in this most blighted of storms, and have survived thus far. I love that you haven’t given up and realize that you can’t give up, not now, not yet, not until it’s done. I love that you know, at least in some small way, that you have support and recourse to help, even if it’s no more than a message sent in the quiet hours of the early morning when only that one friend across the world is online. We will get through this together, because we’re all in this together.
If you are the support for others, don’t neglect yourself. Know your limits; don’t push yourself more than you absolutely must, and know when it gets too much before you start needing support yourself. Know what’s possible, and know what’s achievable; set your expectations accordingly, and aim for what is best. Keep your perspective, no matter how hard it is, and always keep one eye on your targets, with the other on your friends and allies. Breathe. Drink enough water. And, yes, for you too, know that what you do is enough.
Sit satis. Let it be enough.