Misery: An Honest Conversation.
Is it the familiarity of misery that keeps us stuck in its stronghold? Is it the comfort of its woes? We loathe misery, and yet there are times that we bathe in it.
There are times when we make a conscious choice to swim in it, and to lather ourselves in its veil of darkness: the black past, the murky pessimism. Do we thrive off it? I wouldn’t go so far, but I do think it gives us an excuse to check out of life for a while.
I’m talking about the misery that holds us back. The misery that drives us to continue down the same self-destructive path, day in and day out. The revolving door of negativity, the resistance to change. I’m talking about when we consistently sabotage our ability to thrive, when we give up on our God-given right to live and love, a free and joyful life. That’s misery.
When misery takes over, it drives its own ship. Misery feeds our complacency; it is our lack of ambition. Misery gives us the out that we are looking for when life gets hard. And it does get hard. Sometimes life gets so hard that misery becomes the only choice. Misery allows us to sit on the bench of life because trying entails a risk of failing, and failure isn’t always a possibility that we are ready to face.
Yes, sometimes misery is the easier path, easier than living. I know that’s a hard pill to swallow, because suffering is in no way easy, but it is predictable. And once something becomes predictable, it becomes safe. It sucks the oxygen from our blood, and yet we feel secure in its embrace.
And what about the hurt? What about the potential for future pain? If we stay stuck in misery and refuse to change our ways, if we continue with the self-sabotage, then we might just dodge the possibility of further heartache.
And yet, in choosing that, we paradoxically endure more pain, because life should not be lived from the sideline. Life is not an existence, and yet it can become one under the reign of misery.
Misery loves control. If we change our ways, then we might expose ourselves, and misery doesn’t want that. No, misery wants us to stay exactly where we are. In truth, misery means well. It is giving us what we want. Misery protects us from our own pain, and yet it is that same pain that can set us free.
And, misery relies on the belief that we aren’t worthy. It cripples the greatest of souls who seek refuge in the depth of its pits. Why? Because if we sit in the darkness, we dodge the possibility that we don’t measure up. If we sit in misery, then we won’t ever be branded unworthy. No one will ever discover that we aren’t good enough, not even ourselves, because misery becomes the scapegoat.
So, does misery, as much as we abhor it, become our excuse as to why we are not living? Do we rely on misery to take the blame? I think it’s a strong possibility.
And, once misery takes hold, it contaminates everything. The fear of not being worthy not only prevents us from living our life, but it allows the experience of misery to exist in the first place. If we aren’t good enough, then why would we deserve anything better?
Instead of reaching for the stars; instead of honoring the absolute divine authority that sits within each and every one of our hearts, misery tells us to accept the very least that life has to offer.
Logical. Because we don’t matter anyway.
And, what about the blame? We look to find blame in everything that sits outside of ourselves. The world must change for us to feel better, to feel safe. We do this in an attempt to diminish the power that we hold over ourselves.
And, as if we hadn’t already endured enough, we turn the blame inwards too. We punish ourselves, because we are so damn angry with ourselves for staying stuck. We fluctuate between self-hatred and pity. We are sad for ourselves, due to the regret of not living. We demand that we sit in the filth of misery, but we don’t want to take responsibility for it.
But, misery is no one’s fault. Not even our own. It serves a purpose when life becomes too much.
I know that’s hard to fathom, but we wouldn’t engage with misery if there wasn’t some sort of payoff. Misery is miserable, but it protects us when we need protecting. It becomes a crutch and sometimes we need a crutch.
Yes, sometimes misery is our only lifeline; sometimes it is the best that we can do.
It doesn’t mean that we haven’t been battered and withered by life. It doesn’t mean that we haven’t experienced some ugly things. It doesn’t mean that any one of us deserved the pain or the tragedy or the disappointment that has come our way. But relief comes when we realize that we don’t need to inflame those wounds by hurting ourselves even more.
Relief comes when we realize that we hold the key to unlock misery.
We hold the key because misery is our fear: our fear of the unknown, our fear of failing, our fear of being hurt, our fear of being ourselves, our fear of not being accepted, our fear of not being good enough. We seek shelter in misery when the fear of our own pain becomes too much, and yet misery itself is miserable. We seek misery’s comfort, but misery requires strength.
And so, when we can raise ourselves up to look at it from that perspective, when we can see that the only thing we are hiding from is ourselves, when we can accept that the child within us is scared and needs us to take its hand, and when we can recognize that we have the courage to give ourselves another chance, that’s when we can unlock misery’s chains.
I don’t know exactly when that will happen. We each navigate our own path.
But I do know that you hold the key. We all do.
It will happen when you don’t want to run anymore; it will happen when you realize that you do matter. That you are worthy.
It will happen when you are brave enough to let go of the comfort of misery.
Rochelle Smith is a registered counselor with a BA in Psychology, Human Resource Management and English. Rochelle loves the synchronicity of life and all things philosophical. She left a 12-year corporate career to pursue her dream of becoming a psychologist, and is currently undertaking postgraduate studies in Psychology at Monash University. She describes her approach to the helping profession as “mixing the science of psychology with soul” and aims to assist people strip back their layers so they can thrive. Rochelle is an aspiring author, and believes in living in truth, to fulfill individual potential. She loves people and believes in the kindness of humanity. She founded The Honour Project spreading her insights on life and the benefits of honoring who we are. Her writing is her therapy, and through her clarity of expression, she hopes to touch others by sharing her own wisdom, lessons learnt, and soul.