• Annie

Dark Day

So a while back I wrote about the "Rage Day." Today I bring you, the Dark Day.

Dark days are days when everything just goes wrong. Whereas, on a rage day, you are determined to see everything around you as bleak and unforgiving, on a Dark Day you really had the best hopes for everything. You try, you try so hard, over and over again to make the best of it. When you sleep through your alarm and drag yourself, disheveled and disoriented, into work two hours late, you do your best to mop up your mess of a face in the bathroom and keep on trucking. When your dog pees in the stairwell at your building, you lock him in his crate and go mop up the mess as best you can. Basically you just mop up messes, one after the other, until eventually you collapse into bed at the end of just a train wreck of a day, thinking "Do I really have to get up and do this again tomorrow?"

Why? Why ask that question? You know the answer is "yes" so why torture yourself?

Because in those moments you're hoping some greater meaning and purpose to it all will surface and you will drift off to sleep feeling like it was all worth it in the end. But sometimes—hell, most of the time—it's not. Most of the time the answer to "What gets you out of bed in the morning?" is "My stupid boyfriend had the stupid idea to start putting the alarm clock on the other side of the room."

And, pray tell, what is the matter with that? I'm not going to say something cute and trite like "There's a reason for everything!" or "Look on the sunny side!""Fred never gives us more than we can handle!"

First of all, who the hell is Fred?!?!?!

I'm kidding, I know what the saying is. But seriously, we really like making things harder for ourselves than they need to be. At an already crap time, we bring THE ALMIGHTY CREATOR OF EVERYTHING into the mix, because that's supposed to somehow make coping easier? Lies. When you say "God never gives us more than we can handle" you're really saying "So if you FAIL to handle it, you're now letting everyone AND GOD down." Is that really helpful? I doubt it.

In college I started doing this thing I thought was really clever.

See, in college everyone is always trying to save their shitty day. "Today was so crap I just wanna go out and have fun!" I ask you, has that strategy ever, for anyone?? Inevitably we'd all wake up the next morning feeling even worse because either the night was a total bust and nobody did anything fun at all or we raged too hard and now feel terrible, not just about the day we had, but about the night we had, what we did, our friends, our future, our bodies, AND ourselves. No bueno. Not helpful.

Instead, I started just saying that "I don't like today, I think I'll do it over again tomorrow."

Simple, elegant, and entirely useful. It's just a do-over! No wasting time trying to talk myself or will myself into having a good day, but instead acknowledging the day for what it was and moving on. If I was lucky I would realize I was having a dark day around noon. That would save me like at least six hours of fruitless effort. If I realized I was in a Dark Day I would go to my classes, do the bare minimum of what I absolutely HAD to get done, and then I went home, put on sweatpants and hid from the world until the day was over. Before long, I had my best friend doing the same thing. Some of our best times spent together were when I walked in the door to find her already on the couch with french fries in her onesie. "Do-over?" She'd ask. "Do over," I'd reply, and grab a fry.

So there were probably like 5,000 better ways I could have turned my day around than going out drinking or eating fries and watching Netflix, but I was in college. The method isn't perfect but the theory has promise. As I'm typing this my hands still smell like dog urine, and I'm writing instead of doing the 50 other things I have on my plate right now...AND my dog still hasn't been on his walk yet. Even so, I've snatched this moment to do something for myself that feels good—namely, writing to you lovely humans. I'm taking the time to say "Everything isn't super freaking awesome today, and that's fine!" I'm letting go of the need to try to MAKE everything awesome when sometimes it's just NOT AWESOME. Embrace the not awesome, I say. Rejoice in imperfection. Tell God he's just going to have to wait, because you really don't have the bandwidth to deal with his "Gifts" until tomorrow.

That's why I kind of like the idea of Fred. Fred could be anyone! Fred could even be your nemesis, and you're Wonder Woman, and you're at the part of the movie when everything looks dark and hopeless and it looks like evil is going to triumph after all and you throw a giant goddess-sized tantrum about the whole thing, but then you sleep with Chris Pine and wake up ready to kick some Fred ass!

I know a bad day isn't necessarily The Great War. That said, whether it's your dog peeing on the stairs or an actual tragedy or crisis, we all have moments when we just want to lay down and just give up, but we don't, because we can't, and it sucks. The funny part is, I actually do believe that [insert your understanding of God or the Universe here] never gives you more than you can handle, but that doesn't mean you have to handle it ALL, right now, perfectly. Sometimes a bad day is just a bad day and maybe the handling of it does not rest in handling the details of the day, but in how you handle the sum of its parts—the fact of the day itself. Maybe handling it is simply being able to look a Dark Day in the eye and say "You may have won today, but get ready, Fred, because're going down."


© 2017 by Annie Westphal. All rights reserved.