I remember being a child, and even into my adulthood, and when I liked a girl and she rejected me, or when I dated a girl and she dumped me, the thing that I was often told was that it was “her loss.” I know that I’m not alone in having experienced this terrible piece of consolation. I think that little off-the-cuff statements like that, have created a problem.
There is the obvious piece of it, which is that I could not have possibly been better than or equal to every girl that rejected me, in my case it was a matter of sheer numbers. When it comes to break-ups, I would have to admit that I’m probably more than fifty percent at fault for each of the different relationships ending. There are times when I’m a complete asshole, and it certainly was not “her loss.”
By taking the “her loss” stance—which on very few occasions did I buy into— I would have made two big mistakes. The first mistake was that I would have not realized that every time it didn’t work out, did get me to where I am. Had I not gone through the rejection, and the heartbreak I wouldn’t have found my wife, and I wouldn’t have my son. This is an important thing that is missing from a lot of people’s perspective. I hope that everything works out with Sarah and me, and I am willing to work really hard to make sure that our relationship works as best as possible, but if something were to ever happen, I couldn’t possibly look back at my relationship with her with anything less than adoration, because it gave me Logan. Just like all those rejections and failed relationships brought me to her.
The second big mistake in taking the “her loss” stance, is that it would not have allowed me to self-reflect, and to improve. If I had accepted that misguided statement, I would have slowly turned into a sociopath—maybe not literally— and things would probably not have improved for me. I’m not a big believer in that “if you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best” philosophy. My worst was pretty fucking awful, and I’m not sure my best is all that big of a prize.
I deal with a lot of self-loathing, part of it is my bi-polar disorder, some of it maybe Catholic guilt. When I’ve hurt someone’s feelings, or when I’ve otherwise screwed up, I feel a deep sense of self-hatred. My wife, my parents, my sister, and everyone else who has seen the real darkness of that self-loathing cannot handle it. They want me to feel better (when it’s from a sense of worry for my well being, I understand it) but often—in my wife’s case most often— there is a sense that I don’t deserve to feel that type of bad. There is a value in that feeling, I learn about myself, and I—hopefully— improve myself. I think there is as much value in feeling like a piece of shit, as there is when I’m walking on sunshine.
So, why am I talking about this?
I got laid off in November, and honestly it’s a shitty feeling. I don’t recommend it, but I couldn’t help it, and I had to deal with it. The feeling of unhappiness and despair tends to cycle, but there are also moments of greatness. I get to spend a lot of time with Logan that I wouldn’t have otherwise, and perhaps because I got laid off I will find a better job, but it doesn’t make this suck less while I’m in it. I’m ok with that, because I know that this shitty feeling is temporary. That is an important thing to realize when dealing with depression, and self loathing, but I don’t try to rush through it, I try to understand what I can from it, and just wait for happiness to come back in its own due time.
I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness lately—I think about it pretty often in general, but this is more broad, less about my happiness, and more about people in general. Here in the US, we’re told that we have the right to the ‘pursuit of happiness,’ and it seems as though many people have forgot about the pursuit part, and think they have the right to happiness. I don’t believe that we do deserve happiness, at least not inherently.
There is a movie called Hector and the Search for Happiness which had one of my favorite quotes, “we should concern ourselves not so much with the pursuit of happiness, but with the happiness of pursuit.” I think that this idea describes a sense of satisfaction, or purpose more than what we think of as ‘happiness.’
People, largely, don’t want to deal with unhappiness to get to happiness, but it is very often a key step. Perhaps you do deserve happiness, but that doesn’t mean you deserve 100% concentration of happiness through out your life. Don’t shy away from the moments that suck, some of the moments that suck, whether it’s because someone rejected you, or because you feel like a piece of shit, can not only make you value the happiness as it comes, but can also help you navigate life in general.
If something happens that makes you feel shitty, don’t immediately get mad at it, don’t dismiss it, don’t deny it, just deal with it, absorb it, and realize that it may not have been a misstep, but perhaps it’s just a part of the path that seems clear, but it is part of the path none-the-less.
(I should say, that I think many people who have these feelings of self-loathing, and I’m certainly included, do so to an extent that is unhealthy, just as those who don’t feel guilt or shame, neglect to do so in a harmful way. People who suffer from depression, or eating disorders or any of the many other conditions that come with these feelings are not what I’m talking about, nor who I am talking too. I think that guilt and shame and negative feelings are like almost everything else in life, and they are best in moderation. So I hope no one who suffers from any of those conditions takes this as a statement that you deserve to feel shitty. I’m just a big believer that constant happiness is in fact a bad thing.)