A Good Wallow

Some of the best advice I ever got in college is that when things go awry, no matter what they are, in can be important to take some time to wallow. Take time to feel shitty and dejected and awful. Get down into that mud and let it sink in. A lot of us default to saying “I’m fine, I’m over it, whatever, it doesn’t matter” or other such platitudes because we don’t want to let people know we’re not OK.

Taking the time to sit with feeling terrible has helped me sift through my actual feelings. I’ve been able to say “I’m not alright” when people ask, and that’s liberating. It doesn’t fix anything necessarily, but behind honest with others, and with myself has allowed me to realize when things aren’t OK. It’s also helped me remember that just because things aren’t good, doesn’t mean they won’t be again.

Depending on the situation, maybe you need a few hours or days or maybe a full week of wallowing. Maybe you’re going to need a month. Setting a time limit is important. Sometimes, for big things, I’ll give myself a few days and then check in: How am I feeling? Can I let some of this go? Do I need a few more days? It’s been liberating to acknowledge when things are just plain bad, to feel bad, and then to decide I don’t want to feel bad anymore.

I’ve been working through some big (for me) stuff for the past few years. Every time I think it’s behind me, something random brings it all up again. So I take a few hours, put on some sad music, and sob. I let it all out, and let myself feel vulnerable and heartbroken, full of regret, and what-ifs, and all the feelings I usually try to suppress. When it’s all out, and I feel completely empty, I wash my face, take my dog for a walk, listen to less sad music, and remember all of the things and people that are good in my life.

I don’t think I ever fully appreciated how good things are until I allowed myself to wallow in all the things that I thought broke me.


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