Sometimes You Just Gotta Sit With Your Pain

Man looking

Photo: Jonathan Rados

One step forward, three steps backwards. Sometimes that’s just how life be like.

I eat healthy. I exercise. I’ve found a full-time job. I seem to have everything I need. Yet something just seems wrong.

I keep looking back to see if there’s a particular event I can put the blame on, but this dark cloud hovering over my head seems to have followed me for as long as I can remember.

We all grow out of things like these, don’t we? Isn’t angst supposed to be like asthma? Something debilitating at the moment that you forget once enough time passes?

Maybe I’ll need to carry a mental inhaler around for the rest of my life. Maybe I best accept that as fact. But the past weekend has been rough, because acceptance couldn’t have been the furthest thing from my mind.

The Bukowski method

Now, I wouldn’t want to go taking life advice from someone like Bukowski, but the man knew his misery. So it stands to reason that if he’d managed to find a quick solution, then maybe I too can benefit from his ways.

His prescription? Just sleep it all away.

“I just go to bed for three days and four nights,” he’d said. “Pull down all the shades and just go to bed. Get up. Shit. Piss. Drink a beer now and then and go back to bed. I come out of that completely re-enlightened for 2 or 3 months. I get power from that.”

I didn’t know it, but I had the Bukowski method down pat. Without the energy to handle anything else in my life, I had resorted to drinking my weekend away, curtains drawn, phone in the other room.

“Everybody should go to bed now and then when they’re down low,” said Bukowski, “and give it up for three or four days. Then they’ll come back good for a while.”

I don’t know what Monday brings but I sure do hope it’s a brief respite from the constant anxiety and heaviness that never seems to go away.

Quick edit: This post was written on Sunday and scheduled to publish on Tuesday.

My own method

After drinking myself silly and leaving the chores for future me to deal with, I’m left with nothing but a husk of myself to usher in the coming workweek.

I do have a trump card up my sleeve though, which sometimes helps get me through the worst funks, and that’s to ask myself: “What’s next?”

So I might feel like death’s just around the corner, and I could be dealing with the hopelessness of a thousand Sisyphuses, but nothing centres my thoughts better than asking myself what’s next.

Screwed up at work? Okay, what’s next? There’s a wasp hive in my backyard? What’s next? Writer’s block here to visit? Ditto.

Simplistic, maybe, but it does pull my mind away from rumination mode, spurring it into some form of action. After all, doing something is much better than doing nothing at all.

So the next time you find yourself stuck in a pickle, maybe give this a try and let me know how it goes. I just asked myself the same question and now I find myself typing away at the keyboard, which is probably a good thing.

A wall with the words 'what now' spray painted on it

Sometimes asking yourself this question is the best thing you can do. Photo: Tim Mossholder

You always have the power to choose

I’m pretty tipsy right now, and I figured I’d go to bed once I finish my six-pack. But my last beer can’s all warm and empty, and here I am writing this piece, because hey, what’s going to come after regretting today’s life choices?

I’m glad I’m choosing to do something though, because you know what I’m learning at this moment? It’s that you don’t need to feel good doing the things you need to do.

For me, that means 90% of the things in my life. And to be honest, even though writing’s my ‘passion’, I still find it a challenge to sit down and hack away at the blank page.

Maybe that’s the secret to life then, to learn to love the things you hate.

Because I sure as hell know that if happiness was my main goal, there’d be so many things that’d end up unfinished, from the simple ones like doing the chores to my life’s biggest goals like writing novels.

Every day I’m faced with a choice between relaxing or working for something, and I tend to feel differently about it with each passing day, but what it all comes down to is this: I always have the power to choose.

We all need to find our code

David Goggins once said that he’s found his code to life, and he did that through suffering. He also says that he doesn’t have the code for anyone else, because it’s unique for each and everyone of us.

So maybe it’s a blessing that I have to walk around with a dark cloud over my head. Maybe that’s the only way I’ll ever make the effort to find my own code in life.

After all, the dark cloud did get me to write this post, didn’t it?

83 thoughts on “Sometimes You Just Gotta Sit With Your Pain

  1. Bravo! This stuff is wise. I agree fully with what you have to say.
    Also, congrats! Full-time working is great. I don’t know if you had a full-time job previously, but it’s definitely some seasoning in your life. Good luck with this and that and whatnot, and keep writing!

    • Thanks for the kind words, Emily! Yeah, am always aiming to have a career that works for my schedule instead of the other way around, so here’s to hoping that happens. You keep writing too!

  2. You’re a good writer, that’s because you’re passionate about it…. put that to good use and write a book. The easiest thing to write about is something you know. Sounds like a story of your life would be very interesting. Just sayin’. Ease up on the beer, ditch the staying in bed for 3 days and get busy writing…. I for one will indeed read it. Take care.

  3. Hope the cloud is lifting/has lifted. I trick myself all the time by telling myself I have permission to lie in bed – quite often I find the need passes. It’s weird to feel down when there’s no logical reason, isn’t it? But that happens to me too. One time therapy helped (though that is definitely not for the faint hearted. My God), another time a change in diet (bad insulin levels) and another time (this time) hormones (I’m a woman at THAT stage of life). And then, like you say, looking outward not inward – but then also, sometimes, letting yourself live through it – the path of least resistance.

    Turns out there are as many different ways through as there are occasions of sadness. I guess it’s true enough that ‘all this shall pass’. Thus far, that’s proven true.

    I enjoy your posts. Thankyou for this one.

    • Wow, this makes so much sense. I’ve always tried other ways to get rid of the blues, such as exercising, eating healthier, and even playing games, but sometimes I wonder why it doesn’t help.

      There are many ways to deal with sadness, and maybe I was just picking the wrong one for that specific time. You’ve given me a new perspective. Thanks so much!

  4. Best to spell it all out, when that dark cloud hovers. I couldn’t do the Bukowski thing – I’ve tried excessive sleeping, and it just makes me more tired. Me, I like to go somewhere different from my desk and write. Helps tons – which is one of the reasons this year’s been so hard to get through Lockdown. Sending you a little breeze – maybe it will help that cloud move on.

    • Thanks so much for the breeze! Must’ve worked, because I feel like I have my feet under me once more.

      Still finding ways to deal, but hey, that’s just part of life, is it not? Thanks so much for your well wishes! I truly appreciate it.

  5. Really good advice. Asking what next is a really good tip! It’d help you get your mind off the current problem and onto the solution.

    And oh, I hope the dark cloud goes away, I’ve never been a fan of storms, especially mental ones.

    Great post!✨💖

  6. “What’s next?”

    This is something I never considered asking in the moment. I’m usually of the mind to feel everything all at once, acknowledge these feelings, and then, after taking a few hours/days to recuperate, proceed onto the next step.

    Next time the dark clouds come for me, I’ll definitely be asking “What’s next” sooner rather than later. Awesome post and thanks for sharing!

    • Oh yeah. Oftentimes the answers that come aren’t something that you can deal with at the moment, but at least it gives you a target for when you feel better. Do let me know how it goes!

  7. I’m sorry to hear that the dark clouds have been hovering. Agreed- just pursuing happiness rarely results in finding it. I do hope that with some rest and a new day, things look brighter!
    “What’s next” sounds a lot like my own mental health routine- I hope you don’t mind my saying a prayer for you today, too (which is also a big part of my personal recovery when I get into a funk.) Take care!

  8. Bukowski lived misery and misery loves company. I tend to think of “happiness” as something that isn’t actually well-defined and is something we cultivate in our daily lives through small actions as opposed to a far-reaching goal. Like the beer may have brought happiness or deeply resting after the chaos of a day – that can be happiness.
    Anyway, this post got me cogitating on some things. Thanks for sharing!

    • I love your cogitations!

      Anyway, I believe that the conscience knows what’s best for us, and whatever I feel the next day is usually a good indicator of how good my previous day’s choices were.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  9. Hey Stuart, you put my thoughts into words here. I liked the concept of ‘what’s next’ because it does put our brains into action. Please keep writing these amazing blogs!

    • Oh yeah, the ‘what’s next’ bit really does help me, and I hope it helps others too. Do share any techniques you may have too if you want. Most importantly, thanks so much for stopping by!

  10. Expertly expressed wisdom here my friend. Indeed we must sit with and accept pain when it rises for on the other side is wisdom and power. The lesson in taking a step back, with grace and patience. The art of allowing. Well done.

    • I love your words ‘the art of allowing’. Sometimes you just gotta ride things out, because the more you resist, the worse it’s going to get. Thanks so much for your kind words!

      • My pleasure my friend. I view living as an artwork, through music and movement, as a dance. In my experience the practice of acceptance through surrender and grave has led me to the most beautiful of breakthroughs after breakdowns. Staying in the flow instead of holding on and resistanting. Yes indeed my friend, makes for a much smoother ride😊

  11. Sorry to hear your dark cloud has come to spend some quality time with you. I know the dark clouds pretty well myself. It was weird, when I got Covid, it came upon me so suddenly that it literally felt like a cloud of depression descended onto my head. I knew it was probably a common symptom so I just reasoned with myself about it. I like your idea of “what’s next,” except I’m mandating a law for both of us: we are forbidden to answer “nothing.” Once we go down that road, it’s over. So what’s next: something I can do to make a small accomplishment. Pomodoro is always great for that. Anyways hang in there, the cloud will go away if you keep busy and give it no reason to want to stay.

    • Just to clarify, my cloud is an old friend, but it came back with a vengeance with Covid. Thankfully it got bored when I wouldn’t go along with what it asked.

    • Ooo yeah, pomodoro is good, because it helps me focus on the micro instead of the macro. Like, I just need to get through these fifteen minutes and then I can go back to worrying. And at the end of the day, at least I did something.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Hetty. Hope all goes well with your cloud as well.

  12. A beautiful post Stuart, I can feel the intensity in your writing and it’s honesty. It’s hard – there’s no mincing words there, but you’ve got a beautiful writer in you. Loved this line

    Every day I’m faced with a choice between relaxing or working for something, and I tend to feel differently about them with each passing day, but what it all comes down to is this: I always have the power to choose.

  13. Your posts carry a lot of wisdom in the most approachable way! I think sleeping my problems away doesn’t work for me. The key for me is to ask for help (for me, that’s from God), especially when on the surface everything seems to be going fine.

  14. It’s uncanny how relatable this piece is. I find that I don’t typically read something with this type of length (not that it is actually long or anything), but it seemed to almost have been written by me. Thank you for sharing.

    • I know that exact feel of reading something that you feel you would’ve written, and I’m super honoured you’d think that about this piece. Thanks so much for your kind words, and for stopping by!

  15. Learning to love the things you hate. Whew! That’s a tough one, at least for me, though it’s along the same lines as one of my favorite quotes (I can’t remember where I heard it): Happiness isn’t getting what you want. It’s learning to want what you already have.”

  16. Seems we’re both coincidentally in a pensive mood this week with our respective posts! Hang in there bro! Those dark clouds won’t stay forever. Thanks again for your honesty and vulnerability. Be well and stay safe!

    • Lol yeah, once in a while I gotta let the emotions out. It does feel better once it’s out there, and when other bloggers bounce their thoughts of it. Thanks so much for always stopping by, Kelvin!

  17. What now,what next? I’ve asked myself these questions a lot and I haven’t figure out the answers yet so I just let everyday go. Not minding if I’d get hurt by my decisions,not planning my days ahead because there is no point trying when I’m not the owner of my life.
    I’m living in a world filled with different people whose lives I can’t control.
    So when I’m faced with times like this,I do the things I love doing best,get new hobbies,discuss with my inner self and all of that.

    Your write up is really inspiring. I should try the Bukwoski method sometime😅,it seems helpful… Thanks a lot for this ❤❤❤

    • Oh yeah, even though it seems like sharing this world with people you can’t control may be a bad thing, it’s pretty empowering when you look at it that way. At least then you don’t need to think about the many other things that may happen, and you can focus on doing the best in your own world.

      Thanks so much for this insightful comment. I’m really glad you stopped by!

  18. I know a thing or two about shutting out the rest of the world and finding solace in a beer or 6…social media? No!

    Turns out I’m not the only one? Oh well…

  19. Everyone has bad days. The trick is to accept it, feel it and then get going whether it is writing or something else. And trust me this is from someone who knows about the desire to give up. There are no easy fixes to anything in life.

    • Aw yeah, and even if you overcome it once, there’s no promising that you can overcome it again, unless you work at it every day. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

  20. This was a very interesting post. I haven’t heard of these before. When I am having a bad day I like to do something that I love or spend time with loved ones who can help me feel better. Thank you for sharing these!

    Lauren -bournemouthgirl.com

  21. I can relate to the dark clouds and sense of hopelessness, Stuart. To me, these seem to be especially hard days on the planet and some days it’s a challenge to keep going. I’m glad you have your “what’s next” and your powerful writing. I thank you for sharing this and I send all good thoughts to you…

    • To be fair, that’s one thing I always forget too, and the only way I can remember it is by exercising my choice every day. Thanks so much for your wonderful comment!

  22. Hi Stuart, a well-written article. Totally relatable. Sleep does wonders as we say sleep over it? Personally, our dog grounds me in this lockdown period. Walking her around the neighbourhood helps. By the way, I have a copy of your debut novel which I bought from Kinokuniya Webstore last month, will start reading it soon.

    • Oh wow, thanks so much for the support! I hope you enjoy it!

      And yes! Dog walks really does help me meditate or ruminate in a healthier way I’ve found. Even coming up with writing ideas is easier during these walks.

      Thanks so much for stopping by once more. I really appreciate it!

  23. I really liked the advice and the main idea! Great work
    We should really ask what are we going to do next!
    And life has it’s ups and downs and we should live both of them to reach to the top!

    Thank you for this post it really inspired me in many ways and made me feel better🌸🤍

    • I think we all have the secret combination to get out of a funk, but it’s up to us to experiment and find out what it is.

      Good news is that you’ve found another way that doesn’t work for you. Hope that you find the exact thing you need!

  24. As much as I like the basic sentiment of “do what you love,” I do feel it isn’t realistic to expect to love what we do ALL the time. Some days are just gloomy, whether we push ourselves through the motions, desperately seek thrills to jolt the picture out of white noise, or go for the Bukowski method. But managing to build something useful, like this post, out of days like that are true accomplishments. Because it wasn’t easy, but you did it anyway.

    • Aww, what a thoughtful comment this is. Oh yeah, pain is inevitable, so it’s important that we choose something whose crappy parts we can deal with. Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful thoughts!

  25. An empowering read! Honest words, such as those you’ve written here, create a connection with those who read them and have the power to heal and comfort.
    Hope the clouds are a little less darker today, and if not, I hope it leads to a revitalizing downpour (another post) :)

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