Everything Is Not OK: III
'People on Facebook are routinely exposed to updates from friends and family showing how well their life is going'
'I wanted to start sharing my bad days'
Last month around this time I was writing about how my wife and I and our animals were facing eviction. As I sit down to write this... that hasn't changed. But that isn't what I wanted to talk about this time. This time I want to tell you that my rabbit has died.
At this point I feel that I need to tidy up the flow of information a bit. Last month I wrote about being evicted and about three weeks before that is when this stuff was all happening. The point is that I haven't had bad news every month or manufactured a series of tragedies from my own or other people's wider experiences. Life has been sufficiently hard over the last few weeks to give me 4-5 months worth of copy. At some point I suppose I will be grateful for that.
In the short term, layers of bad news find me tying myself in bewildering knots. I think this seems like a weird rationale, but I worry that telling people around me about another piece of bad news is over-egging the pudding. I have no idea what it is that I fear they might be thinking. Am I making some of this up to get attention? Am I demanding more that my proper share of the available sympathy? Will people start avoiding me since I am transparently a bad luck charm? I don't understand it but however flippant I appear to be this is a genuine worry and it prevents me from talking about problems that mount up and bury me.
The second problem I have, as part of a special offer I am doing this this month only, is one of perspective. Our rabbit Eclipse had been with my wife and I since he was six months old. He was ten when he died. To us he was a little furry person with preferences, feelings and a personality. It hurt us very much when he died and it still hurts us now. However, I am aware that to some people he was just a pet. Maybe you should be a bit sad but nothing to go around telling other people about. These people are of course wrong, but what they also are is numerous.
This isn't a point specifically about rabbits. What is a tragedy to you might be of no consequence to the person you are talking to. We learn this as teenagers when we are uniquely beset by woe and yet the world acts as if there was nothing wrong. In the emotional turmoil of adolescence every irritation can feel like the end of the world. While it might seem understandable to pour scorn on their self-indulgence, this is the ideal time to teach them to open up, not bottle up.
Your problems are unique to you, however many and however bad. If they matter to you, they should matter to the people around you. By giving credence to the anxieties of teenagers we are encouraging them to be open about their problems at an early age and make it a habit. And that, surely, can only be a good thing.