The Suckiness Diaries: How to survive when life gets shitty

on July 25, 2011 | in Happiness, Life in General | by

Sometimes life just sucks. You know, like when you get diagnosed with an old person’s disease while still in high school. Or when you graduate college only to realize that you have no clue what to do with yourself, and what exactly is the purpose of life again? Or when you’re blown off by multiple and subsequent specimens of ultimate douchebaggery (wow, do I really suck that bad?).

Life sucks when your good friend jumps off a bridge and leaves you agonizing over why you couldn’t have been there to help him cope. Or when the guy you thought you’d marry shatters your heart like the glass you want to throw at his head and oh my God I’m single at 27? (I know, I know, you don’t feel sorry for me at all… but really, I thought I would have found The Guy by now.) Or maybe for no particular reason at all except that you’re an overemotional basket case (unlikely but possible).

Over the years I’ve discovered some awesome ways to deal with suckiness, most of which do not actually work. Listen and learn: Therese’s top 7 tried-and-failed methods for dealing with all things crappy (plus an eighth one that might actually work).

1. Lock yourself in your room and wallow in your misery like the world’s about to end. Cry like a baby for days. Close all curtains. Lay in bed until you become one with your sheets, turning into a sobbing mummy of shame. Leave your room only when you are absolutely starving; live off crackers and fruit snacks for 2 weeks. Watch the Bachelor alone in a Snuggie and bawl your eyes out. Look in the mirror and wonder, “who is that red-eyed demon chick?” because, seriously, your eyes are really THAT red.  Be convinced that you are absolutely, completely, undeniably alone. Honestly believe that you will never, ever, EVER get out of this hole.

2. Get angry. Think about kicking your dog, even though he is a precious puffball of a Pomeranian and you love him to pieces. Proceed to feel like a horrible, horrible person; feed him only hand-cut steaks for the next month in an act of penance. Attempt to punch a hole in the wall; pout when the only thing that ends up punctured is your knuckle. Scream like a girl as the throbbing pain courses through your fist (after all, you are a girl, and how come no one ever taught you how to punch?). Curse loudly at the world.

3. Ignore all suckiness. Plaster a smile on your face and pretend that everything is fine. Go to work or to class and walk through the motions day after day after day. Go home. Plop down on couch. Watch TV. Make toast. Browse Facebook for hours on end. Trade off feeling miserable and angry for feeling numb and lifeless. Tell no one, because there’s no one to tell. Laugh when other people are laughing, even though you feel dead inside.

4. Roll up to liquor store and purchase fifth of shitty vodka. Finish half of it before 8 PM. Stumble into bar and tell your life story to the bartender, being as dramatic as possible. Accept a shot from the guy sitting next to you.  Order a beer. Accept a shot from that guy who’s buying rounds for the whole world. Order a screwdriver. Accept a shot from that red-haired guy who’s been standing by the jukebox all night. Order a water, but by now it’s too late. Stumble around with a lifeless stare. Fall over barstools; knock over all bottles in sight. Black the f*** out. Wake up and stare at the ceiling for 3 minutes as you wonder where you are and how exactly you got there. Finally realize that you are on your best friend’s kitchen floor. Refuse to acknowledge that a complete outfit and full makeup are not appropriate sleepwear. Somehow survive the day without hurling. Repeat.

5. Buy Ed Hardy trucker hat (this was 2007, people). Apply eyelash extensions. And hair extensions. And leg extensions (read: high heels). Spend mornings in the gym and afternoons in the tanning bed, all in hopes of looking like a Victoria’s Secret model in (semi) clothing. Look hotttt. Convince yourself that the point of life is to receive attention from all and any specimens of Douchebaggery Homosapien.  After all, if you’re getting attention, then you must be worthwhile, right?? (and if you aren’t getting attention, then ohmygosh who am I and maybe a hotter outfit will get them to see my worthiness). Thrive off being wanted. Think that you are hot shit, even though you are hiding the most beautiful parts of yourself— like your intelligence and your ambition and your self-worth. Become offended when douchebaggery ditches you. WTF!!? Prove to him that you are SO much better than him by finding a replacement Douchebaggery Homosapien, one who has a better job and a shinier truck. YOU showed him!

6. Decide to literally run away from your problems. Move to Australia, because you bet you’ll find some answers there. Feel alone even though you’re surrounded by some pretty amazing people. Meet guys– realize that douchebaggery exists on all continents. Experience a bad bout of your old person-itis and take the next plane home just 3 months later. Return without any answers at all and even more confused than when you began.

Later, run away again. Spend all your savings on a 2 week trip to Europe.  Cry, even though you’re on a beautiful beach on the Mediterranean Sea. Cry, even though you’re with one of your best friends on the vacation of a lifetime. Cry, even though you’re in a coffee shop in Amsterdam and oh my gosh, that painting is soooo awesome! Realize that no matter how far you run, you can’t get away from anything at all. Come home and realize you paid thousands of dollars for a heartbreak remedy that doesn’t work. Realize you are now broke as shit. (Don’t worry Krystal… it was still 100% worth it!)

7. Go on a drive to gain some clarity; accidentally end up at the mall. Spend way too much money on jeans and that cute dress and, oh hey, I think I need some new underwear… and lip gloss… and, oh hey! Buy 2 get 1 free! And that purse… you have to have that purse! Leave the mall feeling like you’re on top of the WORLD!

That is, until a week later as you proclaim that you have nothing to wear and dangit, this purse doesn’t match any of your outfits at all. Throw prior week’s purchases onto pile of old stuff in the back of your closet; make your way to the mall once again. Repeat cycle. Take a look at your closet one day and realize that although the pile of old crap is growing, your happiness is not. Realize you are broke as shit AGAIN.

8. Think about your life. Realize that nothing you’ve done in the past has actually solved a single one of your problems. Contemplate. Pray. Ask for help. Cry, but don’t wallow. Feel sad, but not numb. Realize you don’t need to escape your feelings. Have a drink, but stop at 2. Meet a guy, but turn him down for incessant douchebaggery. Realize that no one will ever see your worth until you can see it for yourself. Start acting accordingly and stop looking for a guy to define you. Turn off your TV. Hide your credit card. Write. Start giving more to others.  F*** up, but not as bad as before. Admit that you’re imperfect. Pick yourself back up and start over again. F*** up again. Learn a little bit more every time. Become OK with where you’re at, even if it’s not quite where you want to be.

Wake up one day and realize that, even though your condition is still not cured and your friend is still gone and your heart is still broken… and even though you still struggle and you’re still single and you still aren’t totally sure what you want to do with your life… you are actually… well, kind of happy.

Laugh. Cry. Smile at the thought of this bittersweet mystery of a life that you’ve been given.

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  • Natalie

    Hello number 5 and number 7 you have become my life….But it’s ok because there are moments when I flirt with step number 8! Great post my super talented friend!

    • therese

      Thanks Nat, and yepp, the flirting with number 8 is a good sign… as for numbers 5 and 7, as long as you can see what it is you’re doing to cope, then you’re headed in the right direction! I still do every one of these things at times, but over time the ratio has begun to change… ya knoww

  • Alan

    Do you really have a snuggie? Great post!

    • therese

      Oh yes, of course I do Alan! Thanks!

  • I am on your email list, and I noticed that both of our current blog post title is practically the same. I find that when life gets shitty, it’s best to get very introspective about your life and be curious about the emotions creating havoc in your mind… then from there with practicing self awareness and acceptance can help you overcome life when the shit hits the fan.

    I loove lovee this post. I think I’ve made about every mistake on the list on what NOT to do…except move to Australia ;)

    • therese

      Hi Mika, how funny! I checked out your post and we are definitely on the same wavelength. Being curious and introspective about our thoughts, emotions, and actions is one of the most important things we can do, in my opinion! Thanks for your thoughts :)

  • D

    And even way back 300BC…
    I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind…
    Ecclesiastes 1.14

    • therese

      Very true; none of this is new…

  • Bugs Bunny

    Another GREAT Post!!! Keep up the fantastic work!!! :-)

    “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.” ~Denis Waitley

    • therese

      Thank you! Great quote!

  • Erica

    Therese- You are such a great writer and you know… you HAVE had some shitty things happen to you. But EVERYONE has and no matter who you are, where you are in life, what you have…there will STILL be shitty times. Having a man or no man, nice clothes or no clothes, a sexy body or being a pale chunker doesn’t make life easier. :) So don’t beat yourself up too hard…yeah I have a husband now at 26 but guess what…YOU have gotten to travel all over the world ( I haven’t) even if you’re now broke you will always have those memories (unless your life is really shitty and you get amnesia, hehe) I was just talking to Derek last night about how I have this Romanticized vision in my head of how life should be and I imagine people having amazing lives when I see them from the outside but the truth is…everyone struggles and often, the grass is always greener…
    You might not have everything you want right now… I don’t either…I don’t even have a job!!! Ah, but I think that we all are where we are supposed to be for one reason or another. Therese- No matter how shitty life gets, YOU ARE AMAZING and you have lots of people who think so and love you!
    P.S- now I really am like Charlotte because I have a writer friend like Carrie :)

  • therese

    Thanks, Erica. I completely agree with you– everyone DOES have shitty times, and we’re all in this together. And in fact, compared to a lot of people I might have it pretty easy. But regardless, everyone goes through their own tough times, and my point here was not to beat myself up, but exactly the opposite. I’ve realized that you don’t have to try to “escape” suckiness or to fill the hole with things that will just never fill it. And in doing that, I’ve ironically found happiness, even in the midst of everything I once thought was “sucky.” That’s what I meant to convey.

    You’re completely right about how you look at everyone and think their lives are perfect, but in reality, we are all struggling. But yes, there is also a lot (a LOT!) to be grateful for… such as friends like YOU! Thanks for your words… love you too!!!

  • Yep, that’s life. You absolutely NAILED it again. :)

    I see a book and a movie deal in your future!

    • therese

      Wow… thanks Cathy! Although I’m not sure that my life’s exciting enough to be a movie :-) Thanks for all your inspiring comments!

  • I’m just going to assume that you still watch The Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor Pad. The behavior in numbers 1-7 sound like something Vienna and Melissa (Bachelor Pad 2) would do. Rather eye-opening experiences that sound like they would have been the perfect solutions to life’s shitiness. Glad to see that you’ve begun to figure it out; the unlost is great evidence of that. But don’t fret, you’ll find your Ames Brown some day (referencing his act of love when he voluntarily left Bachelor Pad 2).

    • …How do you know I watch the Bachelor??

      & don’t worry; I’m not fretting :)

      • Just a wild guess. No, you said so yourself in Method One: “Watch the Bachelor alone in a Snuggie and bawl your eyes out..”

        • therese

          Oh… haha sorry; i’m a little slow today. I totally forgot that was in there and was SO confused about how you ever could’ve known that! ;)

  • happy to come across your blog…definitely relate to this post! I’ve tried most of those steps, except #8. well, i did do the ‘f*%& up again’ part…several times. i ran away too, and moved to austin (stayed in the country) but wasn’t able to fix my life there, either. weird, huh?

    i think it comes down to some sort of surrender: there is just no way i’m going to figure all of this out. it’s a mystery, and it really DOES suck a lot of the time.

    • I think you have more figured out than you know you do…

      & yes, life does suck sometimes… sometimes all we can do for a time is allow it to suck in all its sucky glory… & know that moment by moment by moment, this sucky moment will pass…

  • I love this. be my friend? :)

    • Oh my goodness I JUST saw your comment now! Of course I’ll be your friend… do you mean on FB, because there’s no option for me to friend request you on there for some reason…

  • Rykielc

    I love this. I needed this :)

  • ksh

    haha I did everything but 4 and 5 in the last 4 years. Doing 8 again, this time I’m gonna stick to it.

  • Hula

    You forgot “write a shitty man-hating article that gives you a false sense of validation in your self-absorbed self-limiting life.”

    • Hi Hula,

      Re: Man-hating: It’s true that I did used to be a man-hater, but things changed the second I started taking responsibility for my own well being and acting from a place of self-validation. Now that I only let people into my life who truly *deserve* to be let in, I have no one to hate or to complain about. In fact, I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of generous, respectable, genuine & well-meaning men there are in the world.

      For a long time I dealt with things all wrong, which is exactly what I’m getting at here with this article: I’ve realized that none of my past strategies have actually gotten me anywhere I wanted to go. In fact, my strategies were really sucky and futile.

      As for your comments about shittiness, a false sense of validation, and a self-absorbed self-limiting life: I don’t feel that any of these warrant a response.

      How about you? What strategies do you use to make yourself feel better– but that may not actually serve you well in the long run?


  • Loadi

    I was feeling really sorry for myself,so I Googled,”How to survive life.” This came up and I wanted to thank you for writing this. It really put things into perspective,you also saved me a bunch of money from hearing the same thing from a therapist.

    • Aw, thank you Loadi. (And the therapist comment cracked me up!!)

  • Nick Lucas

    It is so nice to know I am not alone with these type thoughts…the thoughts still suck and still hurt at times but this helps!

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