Making Progress

Most people feel good when they do something for someone else.

I have thought about that a lot over the last few weeks. I used to hate myself when I did something for someone else. I would get home and just cry for hours after I dropped off an anonymous gift at someone’s house or gave someone a letter or took food to someone.

People always say that when you’re depressed or having a bad day, you should serve and help someone else because it makes you feel better. It didn’t make me feel better. In fact, I had to stop doing things for people for about a year because I was so depressed that doing something like that would have pushed me over the edge.

Yesterday I did something good for someone. I didn’t even do it anonymously, which is usually the only way I can handle things like this. I did something kind for another person, and I didn’t hate myself afterwards. I didn’t want to die. I didn’t curl up on the floor and cry for hours. I just felt good. It was such an amazing experience.

I want to feel like this every day. I want to feel like I can be myself and see the needs of someone else and not be terrified to do something about it. I want to love myself. I hope this feeling lasts because I so desperately want to love myself. I don’t want to have to forgive myself for acting on my generous thoughts. I just want to do things without even thinking about it, without wanting to punish myself for it. I want to be okay with who I am. I want to feel good when I do something. I want this feeling of peace to last forever.

Advertisements

Lessons of Pain

Pain teaches you things. Sometimes, the more intense the pain is, the more it teaches you. Today I have been in excruciating pain, and I have been thinking about the lessons pain has taught me.

  1. My body is amazing. Sometimes we tell ourselves how much we hate our bodies because they are not what we want them to be. When it becomes hard to move because of pain, you realize just how amazing your body really is.
  2. My body needs just as much love as I do. I learned this by  unintentionally starving my body. Eating causes me pain and time is a short commodity, so I simply did not eat meals for two weeks. By the time I realized what was happening, my body needed a whole lot of love to get back to normal.
  3. Everyone suffers. Most of the time, no one knows I am in pain. I resist the urge to slide to the floor and curl up in fetal position when I’m talking to someone. It has made me wonder how many other people resist similar urges and what unseen pain they may be suffering.
  4. You may never fully understand the power of a hug. When I am in intense pain, physical touch can sometimes be unwelcome. But a hug is almost always something I want. A hug releases some of the tension, alleviates some of the pain, and above all, let’s me know I’m not alone.
  5. Compassion and empathy. Everyone experiences pain differently, but because I know what pain feels like for me, I can sympathize when you describe what pain feels like for you.
  6. Gratitude. When I have a good day, when I feel well enough to do something extra, when pain doesn’t describe my state of being, I am so grateful. It makes me grateful for the little things like being able to stand and able to eat and sleep, etc.
  7. Pain is temporary. Even though I am almost always in some kind of pain, I have realized that the intense pain is temporary. It may feel unbearable in the moment, but eventually it will become bearable again.
  8. Sleep is my friend. Sometimes I delay sleeping because of depression. Sleeping seems like a darkness that I do not want to enter, but sleeping almost always helps me feel better.
  9. People care. Pain didn’t really teach me that people care, people taught me that they care. But pain made me realize and notice people caring.
  10. Service. Pain makes you realize the frailty of life. It helps you realize what is most important. To me, what is most important is other people. If I can make someone’s life better, if I can make them a little happier, if I can help someone, I want to do it. My pain does not disqualify me from trying to help someone else.

Grateful to Help Give Hope

Sometimes I feel so hopeless. I find myself sinking in deep despair, afraid to try to change things because I don’t believe it’s possible. But then, there are the days when I am okay, and the darkness is dispersed, and I can breathe. These are the days where I can give hope.

I need hope. I need to give it. I need to feel it. I need to believe in it. Some days I feel too tired to give hope. I may give hope anyway, but it’s out of perseverance more than personality. When I do feel hopeful though, I run around like the Easter bunny spreading colored eggs. I want to give as much hope as possible, usually while remaining as unseen as possible.

Sometimes though, you must give hope with your story; so you can’t remain anonymous. Last night I went around spreading hope. This time, I put my name on it. Not because I want credit, but because they needed to know that a real person cared, a person with a name and a face and a reason.

Sometimes when I do something nice for someone, I want that to be faceless. I want that person to feel like the whole world loves them, not just one small singular person. But when you spread hope, you have to listen to your feelings. This time I had the feeling that these people didn’t need to know that someone cared. They needed to know that I cared.

I don’t know where I’m going with this other than just to say, spread hope. You never know who will need it or how much they need it. Whether you do it anonymously or let someone know that you specifically care, it will make you thankful and make them thankful. And let’s face it, we could all use more hope and gratitude in our lives.

Grateful for Service

I love doing nice things for people. It feels like spreading hope. Some people at my church probably see me as that person who signs up for everything. While it is true that I sign up for everything I can do, it is probably not for the reason people think. I sign up for completely selfish reasons, and I am okay with that.

I sign up to help because I need to get outside of myself. I volunteer to bring things because it gives me a purpose and a reason to stay. I offer to serve because it gives me something to do with my time.

I always try to serve as quietly as possible. I try to do things anonymously. I try to be invisible in my service. It’s not because I’m ashamed of it, but because I feel unworthy of it.

It may seem strange, but service feels like such a blessing to me. It’s like going to Christmas dinner. You have already had an amazing day, but you still get to experience that extra measure of happiness. Service makes me so happy that it doesn’t seem fair. It doesn’t seem fair that no one else realizes the blessings of this gift.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve and to be served. It seems strange to me that we reject service. I think we learn to do so as a courtesy or a symbol of strength. And it can develop to be prideful. But it shouldn’t be like that. Receiving service is just as important as giving it. I am so grateful for the service I have received. I am grateful for the people who have served me in unexpected ways.

Without the opportunity to serve, to perform small acts of kindness, to give away love and happiness, I would be lost to the darkness. I need service like I need to breathe. I need to be part of spreading hope because otherwise, I would be overwhelmed with hopelessness. I need to be able to participate in service because it gives me a reason to keep trying. And I am so grateful for that.