The difference between 15 and 37 is that when rock-bottom emotional meltdown is achieved the 37 year old knows it is temporary and survivable. At 37 I often hear myself say “I can’t do this.” but some part of me knows that it is a lie. I can deal with it. I will deal with it. Because I am stronger than whatever life can throw at me. But that strength and knowledge came to me as a result of actually surviving through some nasty stuff. A fifteen year old can’t say to herself “I’ve survived worse” because she hasn’t yet. She does not know on a visceral level that she has the power to make her misery finite. This is the true danger of the teen years, when people who have near adult comprehension of challenges, and who must ride the tumultuous waves of hormonal shifts, and who are still trying to figure out who they are, do not yet have the perspective to know that pain is survivable. This is when 37 must stare into the eyes of 15 and promise her that it will get better. And then 37 feels enormous relief when the teenager nods and believes for just a moment even though she can not see it herself.
So yesterday was a hard day. And today will be better. And if today is not better, we will pummel something until it is. Because the key to surviving is to take charge and make plans rather than cower while the storm rages. And the plans need to include building a better shelter to weather the next storm so that next time we won’t end up all wet.