Archive | December, 2008

When You’re Crying On The Bathroom Floor (Literally and/or Metaphorically)

19 Dec



But can you believe now

When you’re on your knees now

Begging and pleading now

Can you believe

When all that you’ve got is doubt

And no one to pull you out

When you heart is slowin’ down

Can you believe?


-Robin Thicke, “Can U Believe,” The Evolution of Robin Thicke


I’ve noticed that a lot of prominent self-help experts have one Dark Night of the Soul when they hit Rock Bottom, have some Great Realization, and then quickly and permanently turn their lives around, whereby they write a New York Times Bestseller, buy a mansion, meet the love of their lives, and vacation, frequently, in tropical destinations.  I’ve had, like, 87 Dark Nights of the Soul, and I don’t have any of those things.  Each time, I keep hoping that this will be the last one, that I will finally “figure it all out” and “get everything together,” and commence living a life filled with only joy and ease.


I cried on the bathroom floor long before Elizabeth Gilbert popularized that particular pastime in one of my favorite books Eat, Pray, Love.  Reading about some of her experiences, I found an “Oh, I’ve been there!” recognition, and comfort.  In early 2001, I wound up tear-soaked and slumped on the tiles of my Upper East Side bathroom floor after months of having been broken up with my ex-boyfriend, still feeling like it was only Day 1 post-break-up and I would never get over him.  One night this summer, when I was crying myself to sleep in bed, I dragged myself to the bathroom floor to really go for it and get the full dramatic effect.  At the beginning of this week, I plunked myself down on the floor in front of my refrigerator, but it wasn’t nearly as effective.  The bathroom floor is where you go when you hit the bottom and break, and simply cannot take anymore pain.


Earlier this month, during Dark Night of the Soul #88, it felt like the holidays were compounding everything, but truthfully, I felt so raw that someone sneezing would have compounded everything.  Life can be difficult, painful, and disappointing, and I am a very sensitive person, and this combination lands me on the bathroom floor, literally and/or metaphorically, from time-to-time.  But as I’ve moved through these periods in my life, I’ve become aware that there are always gifts present in pain; it is challenging to find and unwrap them when you are in the middle of it, but they are surely there.  Honestly?  If I could choose?  I would prefer to always learn my life lessons in happy, easy, gentle ways, but I can’t deny that so many gifts have emerged out of difficulty.  For instance, feelings of sadness and loneliness have contributed to compelling me to write and teach, and to use writing to connect with and heal myself and hopefully help others do the same. 


When you are in the middle of your own Dark Night, and you find yourself crying on the bathroom floor, literally and/or metaphorically, it can feel like the pain will never end, and at these times it is soothing to:


Believe that something larger than you is supporting and guiding you

Accept how you are feeling – resisting will only make it hurt more, and last longer

Pray for peace, in your mind and your heart

Trust that things will shift, they always do

Hope for your pain to transform into a radiant gift

Know that you are not the only one who feels this way


Here’s another thing I’ve learned from pain – sharing it with others softens it, lessens its power, and diminishes it.  We move through life working so hard to hide our frailties, wounds, and perceived imperfections from others, and then feel like everyone else has it more together than we do.  But this is because we are all working overtime to keep up this front, and it leads to us feeling isolated, alone, and like the only one who feels this way.  When we have the courage to stop burying bits and pieces of ourselves, we can find the strength wrapped up in what we thought was weakness, and the bridge that connects us to everyone else.


I don’t think we ever reach a point where we “figure it all out” and just coast through the rest of life, flitting between mansions and tropical vacations, having permanently graduated from experiencing all pain and suffering.  We can learn to navigate difficult times, and perhaps they will come fewer and farther between, but they can’t be stamped out, and they are too valuable to lose altogether; when the darkness starts to lift, their precious gifts become illuminated.  Sometimes you just have to wait it out a little, so when you feel confused and lost, know that you will be clear, and found.  When you feel alone, know that you are not.  When it is the hardest, and you simply cannot take anymore pain, even then, can you believe?


In her book Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, Elizabeth Lesser writes, “When your heart is undefended, you make it safe for whomever you meet to put down his burden of hiding, and then you both can walk through the open door.”  Carrying their weight is exhausting, let’s put down our burdens, and together we can travel lightly into the New Year…


Wishing you a holiday season filled with warmth, compassion, nurturing, and love, especially generously given from yourself, to yourself.


Lots of love!


Jen xoxo


Copyright © 2008 by Jennifer Garam