“Don’t Cry Because It’s Over; Smile Because It Happened”

Is anyone actually capable of following this advice?

I’m genuinely curious, because I’ve never been able to. As a child I would inevitably waste the last day of any family vacation crying because it was ending, and then crying because I was wasting the entire last day crying, and then crying because it was actually over and I had just wasted the entire last day crying.

Of course, that was probably for two reasons: 1) I genuinely found the majority of my day-to-day existence pretty dreary and miserable, not in the “maaan I could sure use a vacation” sense but in the “my classmates and my teachers are bullying me” sense; and 2) as perhaps follows from 1), I had some sort of proto-depression that later became full-blown depression.

Now I cry at the ends of other things, like visits with family or partners, stays in a particular place (moving is horrible for me), jobs and school things, and sometimes relationships (though, by the time they end, I usually don’t care very much anymore).

No matter what the actual thing that’s ending, there’s always this same horror that that might’ve been the last good thing in my life and now there will be no more. It’s not rational; it just is.

“Smile because it happened” assumes that the reason it can or should feel okay for good things to be over is because now you have all those happy memories of them. That might be the case for people who get any joy out of thinking about happy memories. I don’t. My brain immediately jumps to sadness that that thing is over or gone.

That’s why the only thing I can do is just to not think about things that are in the past. (Unless, ironically, they’re uniformly negative, because it doesn’t really make me sad to think about sad things that are over now.) This means I compartmentalize everything and largely avoid thinking about family, friends, or partners who are not here and who I can’t see often, or past vacations that I took, or cool opportunities that I had.

And I probably realize this as these things are ending. I realize that I’ll never be able to think about those happy memories without becoming very sad, so for me, the end of a particular experience is truly the end in a way that it might not be for most people. It’s not just that I won’t get to literally experience that same thing again; I also won’t really get to ever think about or remember it, except in certain controlled ways (and then rarely without tears).

I don’t know if this is a depression thing or a me thing. It doesn’t really make sense outside of the context of depression, though, because I think that a more mentally healthy person would be able to understand that good things will happen again. I am not able to understand that on any sort of serious level. I’m only able to repeat it to myself over and over like I could repeat “Unicorns exist” or “I have a million dollars.”

But then again, maybe if “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened” were a thing that normal people could actually do, Dr. Seuss wouldn’t have felt the need to say it.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on ““Don’t Cry Because It’s Over; Smile Because It Happened”

  1. My last breakup worked a lot like this, actually.

    We broke up on fairly mutual terms, and we were, of course, sad about it, but we both recognized that we’d had a good run, and, on the whole, were very grateful for the time we’d spent together, even if it didn’t last. I don’t think either she or I feel like the relationship was “wasted”–despite it ending, we were happy to have experienced it.

    I don’t think it’s as clear cut as the saying makes it sound, since there was some crying and sadness involved, but on the whole, it tended far more toward the smiling than the crying.

    Like

  2. There’s this thing you do, where you say, in effect, “I am broken and terrible because I feel [some deep and beautiful feeling]”.

    I don’t understand why other people aren’t terribly sad that everything is always ending all the time, and the past will never come back. I’ll never be 27 years old anymore, or 17, or 7, I’ll never spend a minute with my grandparents, or with my parents back then they were still married, or with my Tutors who’ve died, or in any of my classes in college, and I’ve forgotten so many things. I wish I didn’t hate journaling so much, so at least more of my day-to-day self was recoverable; I keep dying every day and it’s horrible.

    Then there’s opportunity cost; all the things that never even happened ONCE. When I think too much about this, it’s paralyzingly awful.

    So I narrow my focus, and pretend the past is still with me and my other options were never possibilities, as much as I can, and try to get through life as a tiny human, scarcely bigger than this one facet of the present, until we learn how to make ourselves bigger and more persistent. (And now I think I finally understand what a friend meant when she complained that she was too small.)

    Of course I’d rather you not feel sad about the last day of vacation or anything else if you’d rather not, but on the off chance that it helps to know this: I think it’s *beautiful* that you get so sad about the ends of things. It’s a respect for the transitoriness of existence. Thank you for being in the world, just the way you are, for as long as the world gets to have you. Thank you for sharing this.

    Like

    • I don’t understand why other people aren’t terribly sad that everything is always ending all the time, and the past will never come back. I’ll never be 27 years old anymore, or 17, or 7, I’ll never spend a minute with my grandparents, or with my parents back then they were still married, or with my Tutors who’ve died, or in any of my classes in college, and I’ve forgotten so many things. I wish I didn’t hate journaling so much, so at least more of my day-to-day self was recoverable; I keep dying every day and it’s horrible.

      This is so true for me.

      When I was 13, I was on a family vacation back to my home country for the first time since I left. I remember crying one day and telling my mom that I was sad because I would never be able to remember every single detail the way I wanted to. When I was a child/teen, I journaled all the time because I wanted to remember everything. But after going to college, I lost the desire to. Maybe because my depression got so bad that intentionally thinking about my life became unpleasant. Maybe because the things going on were less interesting and more just…things. I don’t know. I wish I were still motivated to do it.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s