We Can’t Always Wrap Everything Up in a Nice Bow

One thing that often frustrates me about being a writer is that there’s always this expectation that we can wrap the end of the story up with a neat little ribbon. No matter what I’m talking about, I feel this internal sense of pressure that says: "It’s okay to complain, as long as you highlight the silver lining at the end of your complaint." Or: "You can be unhappy as long as you end the story with a bit of happiness."

I’m not sure where this sense of pressure comes from. Is it in internal? Does the world at large want to read content that ends with a positive attitude? Do my editors want to suck out some kind of a lesson from the struggles I’m experiencing? Is it a combination of all of these things? I don’t know.

But here’s the thing: Life doesn’t work like that. We don’t get to wrap our problems up in a nice little bow. Some things are messy, incomplete, and irregular. There is no "unhappiness police force" prowling the streets, demanding that we look at life from the bright side. Even those with seemingly perfect lives and thoughtfully curated appearances struggle with some type of unhappiness. And, sometimes, I want to be okay with everything not being okay.

There isn't always a silver lining

Would I like to be able to observe every challenge in life with an attitude of gratitude? Sure. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to look at my dad’s relationship with Parkinson’s disease and notice all the good that it’s brought to our lives? Absolutely. But, realistically, it’s pretty hard to do that. And when I do wrap his experience up with that little red bow, it feels dishonest, like I’m describing what I want to feel instead of what I actually feel. Like I’m a fraud. There isn’t always a silver lining.

Like William Leal said: "It’s all messy: The hair. The Bed. The words. The heart. Life ..." And wouldn’t I be fooling myself to claim that Parkinson’s has good qualities?

On days like today, I feel the urge to explain reality instead of sticking my head in a hole like an ostrich. Parkinson’s stinks. My heart breaks every time I pick up the phone and struggle to hear my dad. Life isn’t fair. He doesn’t deserve his own reality. Yet, here we are.

Parkinson's is unfair

Maybe I’m in a mood. Perhaps I’ll wake up in the morning with rose-colored glasses and new ideas about the blessings we find in Parkinson’s disease. Maybe I’ll even feel grateful that I get to back my dad up during the hardest battle of his life. Who knows?

All I’m saying is that maybe there should be less pressure to appear a certain way. Illness is what it is. Parkinson’s is crappy. Watching someone you love losing their abilities is unjust and unfair. And, at least for today, I’m not interested in taking that shiny little ribbon and tying all of the broken pieces back together to make it look like Parkinson’s isn’t that bad.

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