There is no “better.” I know that hurts to hear because we, as a generation, are so hell-bent on creating a future, a concept that it “only gets better from here.” The millennial generation grew up in confusion and our injuries were more than just a few scraped knees.
We faced eating disorders, self-harm, broken families, bullying, hate crimes, and disgusting amounts of uncertainty. We were and continue to be molded by a world transforming in ways that aren’t completely clear yet. We required more than Band-Aids and Neosporin to heal our wounds.
So, we developed the notion that everything will get better, that from the turmoil we trudge through will come a new day where the sun shines and never strays.
We tell each other that we’re strong, we’re brave, and if we can only hold on for a little longer, our heartaches will heal.
We created Better as a tangible being; we talk about things being Better as if it’s a breathing creature that enters our lives. We speak as if proving that we’re strong will call it toward us.
I think this does a lot more harm than good.
I think it might be entirely unfair to tell anyone to wait for something that may never come. I think maybe Better doesn’t exist, at least, not the way we think it does.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying anyone is doomed. Our demons aren’t impossible to conquer. I am not trapped inside darkness as I write this.
I whole-heartedly, unapologetically believe that a person is not defined by their plights. No insecurity, health concern, disorder, heartache, trauma, etc. defines or values you. However, it is a part of you, how you became this wonderful human being reading this. It’s part of the equation that yields you as the solution. Change a single component of an equation and the solution changes: you produce a different individual.
So, even, if you reach the point of getting better, you’ll never lose the part of you that hurt.
It’ll always lurk there. That part of your life will always, for lack of a better term, suck. Even the oldest scars ache once in a while.
Taking a quivering someone into your arms, soothing them with songs about Better, paints an unrealistic and unjust portrait of the future. Sure, life will not always be gut-wrenchingly horrible. Not giving up, working through the pain, eventually rids the feeling of wanting to peel away skin like paint. Eventually, that one song will play and there won’t be an undeniable desire to sob. There will even be long periods of time where the pain you once inhaled with the dust particles, is nowhere to be found.
Yes, it can get easier. But I won’t promise forever. I won’t promise Better.
What happens if the pain comes back? When one day you look outside and the rain pours, your veins bubble under the heat of whatever it is that fuels our darkest parts? What happens when you look in the mirror and almost immediately wish you could fade away with the wallpaper? What happens when you start to feel what you haven’t felt again in years? How can you face that when you were supposed to have healed, be Better? How do you fight in a war you thought had ended?
That’s why we need to stop promising each other that brighter tomorrow. We need to stop holding onto something that is not solid. There is a constant threat that whatever your darkness is, whatever demon you’ve had to shoot down, will return. There’s a constant threat that the monster living inside the closet will want to come out and play; no matter how much Better you once felt. We never know what tomorrow brings.
Instead of fighting for Better, we should fight for ourselves and for each other. Of course, we all want clear skies, of course, we know that the clouds will roll away.
But we do not need a false future to walk through our storms. We only need one another.
When someone you love is facing fire for whatever reason, when it’s unclear if Better in on the way, say it’s okay if it doesn’t. Make it okay to be miserable, to scream in pain. Make it ok for the strong to be weak. Make it known that we are not the darkest parts of our person. Talk about the other parts of the equation. When someone you love needs to know this feeling won’t stay forever, tell the truth: that it will get easier, that the feeling of Better may come around for a long time. But you’ll still be there if it doesn’t. Stay for the day Better goes away.