What would happen if we let people be broken sometimes?

by Janelle Hanchett

When I write about my sadness, people try to fix me. They try to fix me up with their heartfelt advice, or admonitions. Their concern. So much concern. Deep and earnest.

I need more “me time” (whatever the fuck that means). I’m overwhelmed because “I’ve taken on too much.” Perhaps I don’t understand that “life is hard.” If I would just be “more grateful.”

They tell me “I’ll be okay,” even though I didn’t ask. They tell me how to get “better,” though I didn’t ask for medicine. Hell, I didn’t even know I was sick.

But they tell me anyway.

If you feel like shit, go get some medicine, Janelle. Get some help, Janelle. Get better get happy get that smiling face on please.

Your family relies on you, you know.

I’m so tired of this shit. My friend told me about “happiness culture,” the idea that we must be happy or something is wrong, with us, and we should figure out our shit RIGHT NOW because let’s be honest, your lack of unbridled glee makes people feel weird.

And nobody wants to feel weird.


I wonder though, what would happen if we let people be broken sometimes?

What if we let a little sadness be okay? What if we let a little misery, even, a little dark, a little lost – what if we held that like an old friend or teacher, one we don’t like that much, but who has value, often way after they’re gone?

Since I was a child I’ve felt a sadness, way deep in my bones, sometimes. It’s the sadness of knowing I will most likely live on this planet without my mother. Without my dad. And that is how it is supposed to be. If all goes well, if all goes absolutely perfectly, my kids will watch me pass on and away and that will be that. That’s it. That’s the order.

Wrapped up in the beauty of my daily texts with the human closer to me than any other (my mom) lies the perfect truth that one day our line will be cut.

This is not a sadness that makes me unable to get out of bed. This is not a sadness that makes me unable to function, to laugh, take care of my kids. This is not a sadness that weakens my knees. This is not misery. This is not depression. And this is not clinical.

It is a feeling that makes me question. It makes me wonder what the hell we’re doing with our lives. It makes me ask myself if all these “jobs” and all this “work” and husband being gone and gathering of stuff is really what it’s about, and what kind of lies have we been sold to think that’s so, and what the hell are my kids learning in school and why haven’t I visited my sick cousin and if I look back on my life in 20 years will today make sense? Will I wish I would have seen more clearly?

Sometimes it feels insane the way we fill our days in the pursuit of, what. What? Is it weird to question that? Is it wrong?

An itch of the unfulfilled. Is that not alright? Do we need to slap a Band-Aid on that? Do we need to polish that right up to make ourselves more presentable?

And if we do, how come it is after the moments of greatest discomfort that I grow the most? My life has been a journey of discovering new ways I am wrong. New things I’m wrong about. And that fucking hurts, man. That ain’t comfortable. That’s not fun.


But if I tell people about that feeling, that itch, that sense of lack or questioning – if I admit I’m SUPER FUCKING WEIRD and disillusioned sometimes – everybody wants to swoop in and make me better. Point out the ways it’s my fault I don’t have butterflies flying out my ass all day. Pinpoint The Cause of my Occasional Distress as if some emotions are better or more valuable or tasty or good or right than others.

As if good, enlightened, grown up people have good enlightened grown up emotions, and then there’s the rest of us with our defective, unpleasant ones.

(Read some Liz Gilbert or hike the Pacific Crest Trail or do SOMETHING good grief! Nobody likes the unenlightened!)

Fuck that.

I don’t choose to live that way, and I don’t think we’ve done anything wrong if we feel really lost sometimes. I don’t think we’ve failed our families or ourselves if we get down and lose it occasionally. I don’t think an ache of sadness or WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING HERE stands too far apart from an ache of joy and I think they both teach, guide, drag along.

And maybe pain even more so.


In other words, friend, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with you. Even when you’re jacked up.

I don’t think it means you “hate your life.” It don’t think it means you aren’t grateful for what you have. I don’t think it means you need to be fixed sewed up or remade. It could mean any of these things or all these things but mostly I think it means you are human.

Mostly it means we are human.

I wonder if that could ever be enough. I wonder if that could ever be good enough for my kids and you, world, and if you could stop trying to fix that which makes you uncomfortable, or, perhaps, very sad.



Perhaps you and I, we can try letting that be, that broken, and see what happens then.

I’m thinking love, again.

I’m thinking truth. I’m thinking the sadness won’t sit like a black tar wound in your gut because you can’t say it out loud (they’ll say you aren’t doing life right. And one should always, if at all possible, do life right).

They’ll tell you you’re wrong.

I want to tell you that I know you’re alright. And if you’re not, you can tell me that too. And I don’t want to fix you. I want you broken and torn up and super fucking weird and even a little hypocritical and contrary and I want to love you anyway and just kind of be your friend because maybe we can learn together, alongside the outside feeling distant, until we look back and wonder when it was exactly we were remade.

Sewn up.

And maybe even made more whole.


77 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | January 19, 2016
  • Miranda

    You did it again, took the words right out of my head. I am slowly moving from that “something is wrong with me” place for having these thoughts to the idea that joy & sadness co-exist for everything in this life and that it’s possible to somehow feel both at once. Weird and confusing but this whole human thing is messy, right?

  • Felicity

    Thankyou for your words and thoughts. The thought that a portion of my life will be lived without my mother is unbearable. I can totally relate x

  • Claire Foster

    If you tell me about that feeling I will say, “Hell, yes, me too.” I think letting the sad in brings the grateful with it. And that there at the end? I think that’s sometimes called unconditional love. You rock. Thanks for the words.

  • Margie

    Jesus…you must be my long-lost f’ing sister, BF, or something, because this right here is my brain. My thoughts that I don’t have time to write because I’m out doing those things to get all the things so my life can look goddamn perfect. So thank you for putting this out there. Keep it up for all of us weirdos – you rock.

  • denise

    I feel broken and I feel wrong for it. You have reminded me that my perceived help to others (to fix, I now realize) isn’t always supportive (or even requested or wanted.) I have bought into the idea that others, living in happy land, don’t feel the way I do, and since obviously the way I feel is wrong, I should help them to feel better when they express feelings and thoughts that are not conducive to butterflies flying out their ass all day. Now I’m beginning to see that is a crock of shit. Thank you for that.

  • Jane

    As a counsellor I constantly back up against the “why aren’t you fixing them? ” question, as if their discomfort is more profound than the client.

    Sometimes I respond with “We’re working on it”, but now, more frequently I respond with “because they’re not broken.”

    I think the most profound thing you can do for anyone, depressed, sad, social, just over it, is to sit with them and just be in that space. That’s it. Just be with them. That’s it. Anything else is decoration.

    • amy

      Anything else is decoration. Goddamn, that’s perfect. Thank you.

  • Allie

    So much of this has been in my head as well lately. Not so much the broken feelings, but the bone-deep sadness of knowing that one day death will take the people I love most, and the more I love; the more I open myself up and make myself vulnerable, the more it’s going to hurt. It’s one of the craziest truths about being human.

    • Allie

      And yeah, I cannot even IMAGINE life without my mom. And she’s older than Bowie, and Alan Rickman, and all those newly-dead celebrities, Sigh.

  • Claire

    Recovery from depression meant that I had to learn that all my emotions were real and important and that aiming for happiness all the time was the quickest way to fail to be happy. I definitely feel a bit broken but it’s that which keeps me striving to know and to be the most authentic person I can be. Keep being broken and keep writing about it – it’s the best way to be.

  • Tabitha orr

    This broke me open and I wept. Am still weeping with gratitude that there are other broken people out there and that some of them are brave enough to shout it from the rooftops and be weird and let me know I am not alone in this aloneness and that maybe it’s okay to be a fucking mess. Cause I am and this is a lifeline.

  • JJ

    So true. How can you feel real joy, if you do not know sadness? Invariably delighted sounds like an idiot. With constant satisfaction, what will ever change? Without darkness, no light.

  • Keli

    Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I really needed to hear that today. Sitting a little bit broken (and a lot sleep deprived) here in my bathrobe, trying to work up the will to make the staggeringly awake 1 year old breakfast when all I really want to do is go the fuck to bed and be waited.on myself for a change… maybe for today that is ok?

  • PhysicsBear

    I think I might have been being a dick when I started reading this. I thought “hold on, isn’t it good that people care? Isn’t it kind to want to ease someone else hurt?” And then I kept reading. And I got it. Because I’m the one who can struggle to hold it all together, and feel overwhelmed with bone-aching sadness that the universe is going to end in billions of years and then there will be NOTHING left, and really, what are we all doing here? And I don’t want someone to say “turn that frown upside down!” or any other trite shit. Because you’re so right. It’s OK to feel the sadness that is part of life. Thank you for reminding me not to be a dick.

  • Maureen

    Thank you

  • Lorrie

    Thank you. This was me last night. It might be me again some time today, or maybe tomorrow. My life is so different now than I once thought it would be. Damn, I do miss my mom. I still miss my dad, who died when I was a child. I miss my daughter, who lives on the other side of the country. I miss my younger, more healthy self. My life is good, though, and I love so much of it. My husband saw me crying last night and asked if I was ok. He asked it I wanted to talk about anything. I said I was ok, and I didn’t need to talk. A few minutes later he brought me popcorn, and we watched something nonsensical on tv. Soon, my granddaughter will come over. She’ll want to keep her mittens on, because taking them off means she might not be going right back outside. She’ll make funny faces, and dance, and laugh, and she’ll fall into a little swimming pool full of balls, because that’s the best thing ever in the whole world except for Mommy snd Daddy. It’s almost as good as the moon, which is the best thing in the sky. She’ll give me a sly smile with our secret signal for milk, and I will be overcome with love.

  • Mary

    Thank you. I have to stop my innate tendency to avoid the dark and always look at the light while I know full well one does not exist without the other. I’ve learned from my daughter, more than anyone, who calls me on this bullshit when her sadness is “just there”. She’s not going to disappear from it…she just needs me to let her sit with it. I want to wrestle it, like an evil dragon, the way I would. But she is wiser than I. I appreciate this post so much.

  • Peggy Miller

    Wow. You’re amazing. Also, I think maybe the flip side of these feelings is that you can feel the good stuff a little more deeply. And that’s good.
    One thought: my brother is a troubled soul and it’s hard to watch him struggle with sadness and depression and anxiety. My big-sister inclination has always been to swoop in and try to save him or help to ease his distress. I fail every time and that makes me feel bad. Part of it is that I don’t have control to fix every thing for someone I love and part of it is that it seems like my brother is suffering in ways I don’t, or don’t right now. This was a great reminder that maybe we’d both be better off if I was a little more accepting and respectful of where he’s at. Thanks.

  • charlotte wise

    I think I love you! Every time you post it’s just YES YES YES 🙂 Thanks again for a brilliant and witty post!x

  • Helen

    There is a brilliant Simpsons episode saying just this. Sometimes we just are sad and it can’t be made better. How lovely to be around people who let you be you and still love you for it

  • Jamie

    Beautiful as always. I occasionally get the feeling that my entire life is spinning out of control and I’m SUPER overwhelmed, even though sometimes nothing has changed and I have no reason to feel this way. My husband used to try to “fix” me, and my family still does. Now he just lets me be alone if that’s what I need, because we both know this horrible feeling of being on an out of control Ferris wheel will pass eventually. It’s wonderful to know I’m not the only one who gets this way and that it’s not a sign of some horrible disease; because while my husband knows what I need during this time which I appreciate the shit out of, he still doesn’t understand.

  • Sav

    You know, I’m not sure what this has to do with this post (maybe it’ll come to me), but here is as good a place as any. Last week, when everyone was swept up in the “what would you do with a billion dollars” craze, I was thinking about you. I was imagining the interview (“Well, the night I won, I was just a regular mom. My husband was out of town and my children were insane and I burned the chicken and I yelled about bathtime more than I should have and….”) I was thinking about my closest friends and my family and acquaintances that have been particularly kind throughout the years, and who would be the recipients of large sums of cash. I wanted to give fat tips to waitresses (because I was a single mom and a waitress for many years, and shit, nothing could make your week like a $500 tip). And you, Janelle….. I wanted to toss a million your way. Not because it could take away the sadness, because hell, nothing can do that… but maybe Mac wouldn’t have to work so far away, you wouldn’t have to, whatever. Do whatever the fuck you want. Point being, your writing has such an effect on me, every.damn.time. that I categorized you as important as some of my nearest and dearest.
    So. Needless to say, I didn’t win anything. And that will probably be the first and last time I ever buy a powerball ticket, but….. for one night, we were rich, you and I. And for one night, even if only in my imagination, I was able to truly show you how important your writing is to all of us that consider ourselves your community. I’m not trying to fix anyone…. but shit, we coulda had some fun.

    • Annette

      This comment is beautiful and brilliant.

    • Janice

      well – damn!~ Spot on!

  • Lucy T

    It’s alright not to be alright.

  • Abby

    Totally what I needed. I recently lost my youngest child, and I think I’m handling it OK (whatever that means), but I’m sad. Really sad sometimes. And it makes the rest of the world SO UNCOMFORTABLE. But I don’t really need to “get better”, I need people to let me be sad without avoiding me for it, which seems to be too much to ask in many cases. Anyway, thanks for saying it.

  • Cheryl

    This. Janelle, you just helped me (and others, I’m sure) feel a little less alone. Understanding and acceptance of the weirdness. All anyone could ask.

  • kerry

    Seems you’ve hit on something. I love feeling this way…. it means there’s change-a-comin’. Like the Soft Shell Crab theory. (I was in the produce isle when this little old lady told me the story… must have had THAT look about me). In a nutshell: Blue shell crabs go to the bottom of the ocean to molt. They’ve outgrown their shell (armor, house, etc). Very vulnerable, anything can come along and pluck off an appendage. Probably not the best feeling they experience. Thing is, they have to go through this to grow a new, shiny shell…..
    Anyway, other readers expressed my thoughts exactly, “thank you, you nailed it, just what I’m feeling”.
    You’re a badass, and you rock!

  • Michael Ann

    Well done, Janelle. I’ve thought this for years. I call it the Oprah Culture. “Find Your Bliss” she used to say. That statement, fed to so many, made my blood boil. The bullshit and the expectations of that statement inflicted on all those poor unsuspecting women watching her show and her life and wondering what is wrong with them because they can’t find their bliss. Nothing is wrong. Not everyone has the means to pursue bliss. Most of us are just frickin’ trying to survive and pay the bills. And there is nothing wrong with that. Life is about survival. And within the pursuit of survival we find moments of bliss but we also find many moments of sadness and anger and fear and stress and anxiety and on and on. It’s okay. Self-help books are a luxury of our modern world. This worry about being happy has created the Prozac nation.

  • Jocelyn

    This morning at home was an absolute shit show…. It ended up with yelling and my nine year old crying her way to the bus stop because she couldn’t find the hat she wanted and me feeling like a shit mom…and I looked around the house and all I saw was clutter and dirt and the sink was full… I stood at the sink and cried and wondered how the hell am I supposed to get dressed and go to work and just deal with life while all this just falls apart… but in the grand scheme… meh…it is really not such a big deal.

    Why do people tell us to do less when we feel like shit? Why do they say “You’re too busy – you shouldn’t xyz…” Well the xyz is what keeps me breathing… I love the things that make me busy sometimes (my jiu jitsu, my makeup business, my hobbies ffs!) Sometimes we gets bogged down in the “have to do” crap.

  • Jessica

    You make me want to write, and to find other people like myself. Where, oh where, are the other moms like me?

  • Annette

    I love the way you put your heart into every one of the words you write.

  • Maria B

    The last paragraph of this is amazing.

  • Amanda

    That picture makes me melt!

  • Jenna

    There is beauty in negative spaces. The only way to learn that, is to question life.

  • catherine

    This was great. I particularly like the reference to embracing sadness/pain like a well-loved teacher. I feel that discomfort, pain and sadness exist precisely to help us grow as humans. There are a literal tribe of us out here who go through life with these same issues of feeling things a little more, of sadness underlying our everyday existence and who’s empathy for the struggles of others causes us real pain. My personal answer to pain is to sit with it for as long as it takes to get the lesson and/or move through it. I’ve watched people use the ‘bandaid’ method only to be revisited over and over by the same problems. You are spot on … not everyone needs to be fixed. Thanks for a great read.

  • Shawna

    Yes. The construct of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ emotions leaves a wallop of a bruise. But an emotion is an emotion is an emotion. Getting fixated on any emotion is neurotic, but it sure does lead to some impressive poetry and song lyrics. When I was first struggling with massive, unrelenting black dog depression, it lifted a bit when I was told, in a very offhand way in a casual conversaiton that it was OK to feel sad, that people couldn’t expect to feel the depths of joy without feeling depths of sadness.

    Later on, a Buddhist pal of mine said: be happy with what is. I thought it was a sentence full of bullshit until that pal-o-mine went on to say: you can be happy that you feel crashing depression or uplifting joy, squealing rage or unmitigated bliss, because emotions only define moments, not your life. And the alternative to feeling emotions is being dead, which you will be someday, and then there’ll be a whole new adventure of some sort or another. So be happy with what is.

    Growing up with ‘smile, you are so pretty when you smile’, ‘put on a brave face’, blahblahblah, it took a lot of effort to stick with the sad, the frustrating, the infuriating, the painful. When I had kids, I vowed never to inflict the same straightjackets on them that I struggled to get out of for the first 30 years of my life.

    I vowed never to A) Question the validity of their clothing choices — with the exception of ‘I don’t care how hip it isn’t, wear your fucking parka, it’s Canada in winter, not Southern California’ or B) Question the validity or depth of their emotional lives — with the exception of ‘I understand you are pissed off, and it’s OK to be pissed off, I’m fin with you being pissed off, but you can take your pissy self off to your room or outside until you can talk about what’s bugging you without screaming your throat out or stomping around looking like a sullen emo-goth diva monster from hell, because your emotions don’t get to hold the rest of the household hostage, and neither do mine.’

    How do you grow emotional intelligence if you’re bound up, restricted, penalized, ostracised for certain emotions? You can’t. You get a constant shit-ton of stunted, restricted and consistent lash-out-because-I’m-in-so-much-fucking-pain-I-can’t-bear-it, or freeze-you-out-until-you-stop-asking-me-how-I-feel-forever over-the-top reactions.

    Thanks for the post.

    Stay weird.

    • Maygen

      I want to paint your quote on my living room wall so that I can say it to my kid or hubby instead of shouting back and being taken hostage by their emotions lol

      • Shawna

        Does it count that I wrote it on my kitchen walls in sidewalk chalk?

        Along with: Don’t forget to breathe.

        Sidewalk chalk. Not just for kids.


        • Maygen

          Omg it totally counts lol!

  • Lou Taylor

    Oh God…..I’m cringing because I have been guilty of this very thing. Not with you but one of your readers. I realize it was pretty fucked up after I did it but the enter key had already been pushed so I thought, WTF if I just stay very quiet it will go unnoticed. Not so. It was noticed and the recipient was very gracious and didn’t rip me apart. I thought about how presumptuous it was of me and vowed never to do that again. 🙂 As usual you struck a familiar chord and I agree wholeheartedly. We really must have been twins in an alternate universe. I like to think if I had children I would have a quarter of your coolness. Carry on kindred spirit, carry on.

  • Christina

    People tend not to ask why one is sad because it seems rude to do so. But, I think that just pushes people away…telling them with a superficial statement that they are not really cared about. Often I like it when people ask me why I am sad…it means they are invested in my answer and are willing to listen to me for longer than a second.

  • Amanda W.

    I think something is wrong with people that don’t take the time to reflect on the meaning of the madness. It’s important to be able to take a step back and put things in perspective, or you will always be sweating the small stuff.

  • Giseli

    Thank you. You understand how I feel.
    Joy alone and Sadness alone are half parts of a whole. Joy and sadness make one whole. When life flips the coin, sometimes it’s sadness. Sometimes it’s joy and that’s the way it is. Sometimes we get sadness a lot. We just have to deal with it the best way we can. Or do not deal with it at all and curl up in a corner, hiding, until it flips again.

  • Rachel Hanson

    This is perfect, thank you! It is fine to be sad, and quite frankly it makes me sad that other people don’t think it’s okay.

    Also, as I am the mother of a toddler the Daniel Tiger “sad” song started playing on repeat in my head as soon as I read the first paragraph.

    “It’s okay to be sad sometimes. Little by little, you’ll feel better again.”

  • Kathy


  • Nicole

    This. In my head all the time – it’s just a matter of how loud. And I’ve always been like this, even as a kid. I love that you said this and I love all the comments from people who feel the same way. I love my kids, my husband, my house, my yard, my job but…there’s always a but. I don’t know how else to be.

  • Phyllis

    The greatest responses I get from people, that make me feel the best, are the ones who say how brave I am to admit that life is not all pixie dust and unicorns…because they are afraid to say it. Life is long. Live in your reality. Even if it is sometimes dark, it is also sometimes joyful.

  • Kate

    I feel weird because I’ve never been a commenter, just a silent voyeur, but I simply felt the need to convey that this is damn good.

  • Meredith

    I am so grateful to read this, to find others who feel broken. Hell yes let’s embrace it! I’ve felt like an absolute crazy person trying to put on a happy face all the time. Friends and colleagues just sort of look at me with sympathetic eyes, and I’ve felt so alone. I wish I could meet you all! As much as this website is a gift, I wish there was an in-person “Let’s just be real” club I could join.

  • nikkiana

    One of the things I often try to keep in mind is that often the things that folks are uncomfortable with in others are usually the things that they’re uncomfortable about themselves. They’re just not always conscious aware of it. Emotions like sadness and anger come to mind… Folks that are uncomfortable with those emotions tend to rush in to try to minimize.. fix.. what have you. But it’s really more about them than you. I know this because I’ve done it. I tend to think that if we learned to really allow ourselves to feel our emotions… the sadness, the anger, etc… we’d be a society that was much less prone to anxiety and depression as well. So much of that gets triggered by suppressing and not expressing the emotions when they were fresh.

  • Beth

    Thank you for this.

    My mother died, cancer, when I was ten. I’m forty-two now. I still feel that sadness just as raw as the day I overheard my father calling people to tell them. Most days I’m happy and well adjusted, but some days it’s really hard. My wedding day, the birth of my children and days when you just really need to talk to your mother. I’ve always carried that sadness deep down inside and every bit of happiness is just a bit tinged with sadness and I’m ok with that, because that is who I am.

    So again, thank you, because if I’m really honest this is a truth for me and you’ve put it to words.

  • Ana

    You are so right about the culture of happiness. I’m often annoyed by the spoken and unspoken assumption that, not only is happiness the “best” emotion, but that happiness is the default setting.

    This, of course, is nonsense. Neutral would be the default, with other emotions arising as needed. I think it’s hard for people to accept this. Because happiness feels good, they want it always. Hmm, maybe instead of the “culture of happiness” we should call it the “widespread happiness addiction.”

  • Travis

    “I believe if I knew where I was going I’d lose my way.”
    Thanks for you in whatever form you take be that happy, sad or anything else.

  • Millie

    Right on!! that is all.

  • portia

    Right on….you know it is particularly American/Western culture….Russians have it right: they just see life as one long struggle…if you ask a Russian how did you sleep last night, he/she will say: I slept. If you ask them what are their dreams and aspirations? He/she will say: make money to live…they know there are no butterflies coming from anyone’s ass so why pretend…

  • Anne

    Oh for the love of you! You wise, brave, pridefull you. And I mean pride in the best way. In the pushing back of the others smother that just doesn’t feel right in that moment…you stayed true to yourself.

    I must tell you i have committed that smother. And while my actions were an act of love… they misaligned and instead made you doubt yourself and feel judged.

    Please accept my apology, on behalf of all those like me… A Mother. It is an over zealous act of protection, an instinct God given and deeply intwined in my DNA. Try to forgive me and I will try to do better. But if I should fail again, and I will…know it was never my intention to hurt you. We can navigate the winding road together.

  • Jocelyn

    Your words are brilliant. I underwent radiation and chemo for late stage, HPV positive tongue cancer in 2014 and found it hard to deal with the well-meaning friends who just wanted me to put on a happy face while my world sucked. I didn’t want to wallow in the weakness, sadness, fear and frustration but neither did I want to deny it.

    Life is hard sometimes, and nothing lasts forever. But emotions are real, and I believe that denying them contributed to my illness. Walk through it, but acknowledge it. Thanks for your wise words.

  • Jessica

    Once again. To quote another. This a a truth for me you’ve put in words. Thank you.

  • Eimear

    I almost never comment on anything on the internet. For real. But can I just say…. I love you?! This was perfect.

  • Danielle

    You know, I’m gonna let my creep flag out.

    In my head you’re my best friend.
    Like- I should go get a new wwjd Bracelet for how often I consider what you would say about something that’s upsetting me.

    Thanks for always being in my corner. Virtually. Without ever meeting me. Or being held hostage. Or dinners with in laws.

    You’re the bee’s knee socks.

  • Terry

    Amazing that I sometimes feel I am you. You speak from your heart and it fills mine. Your post hits me right after going to 3 days of an 8 day self help seminar and hits on being broken and the critic and adaptive child versus the adult portions of my brain in complete chaos. All I can say is your writing is always so engaging and wonderful to read. Thank you

  • Beck

    Thanks. Nailed it.

  • Kimberly

    So wonderfully put. Thank you.

  • Liz Henry

    Hating your life is OK, too. Been there. For good fucking reason. Sometimes you need to sweat out the sadness and roll around in the filth of it. Like detox. It will not be pretty and it will not be medicated. You just have to feel it. Be broken, like you wrote.

    Happiness is not supposed to be an extended state of being. That goal is one that’s completely unattainable. It’s doomed to fail. And seeking it lines other women’s pockets with happy money so they can eat their carbs and wave to their Italians and demand to know why you haven’t been “brave” enough to end your “suffering” and LIVE. Gag me with a spoon. Be messy, make bad choices, GET ANGRY, like really fucking angry and direct it outward instead of inward, and then make some art. Even if you’re not very “good” at it. You created something.

    • renegademama

      So true Liz. Glad you wrote this. I often need to just move right into the broken fucked up hatred of things going on. Usually that’s the only time I change.

      But usually it’s like a gray area. I hate parts. I love parts. Ya know?

  • Jones

    This. So much This.

    It took ten years for my boyfriend to accept that sometimes I just feel. And I prefer it that way. When I need help to get out then I ask him. It still freaks him out to because sometimes there isn’t a reason for it.

    Vice versa he is like almost shocked when I don’t want to ‘help’ him get out of a mood. When I say: ‘Unless you hurt me or yourself there isn’t a reason to.’ he still finds that hard to accept that you just can be. But he is learning that negative emotions aren’t always bad. They sometimes just are.

  • Sally

    I am so glad to read this right now! I have two children, ages 5 & 8, and lost my husband this past August. I came home and found him hanging in the big maple tree in our backyard. I’m really just starting to grieve and I think it makes people uncomfortable. Especially when they think I am upset in front of my children. At first I would try to not cry in front of my kids because I didn’t want to upset them, but I think they need to see a certain amount of emotion and understand that it’s healthy to be sad and upset over this loss. It makes me feel better to see your opinion and know I’m not crazy, because my life feels fucking insane right now. I love your blog! ✨

    • renegademama

      Oh my heart. I am so sorry for your loss. I have tears in my eyes.

  • Lisa

    What’s weird to me is people who never seem to be broken. That they can hide it so well. Cuz let’s face it, no one can be happy all the time.
    At the very core of enlightenment is the ability to acknowledge the sadness that comes from questioning what the fuck we are all doing here?
    Those moments that we feel lost… it’s the realization that we are still yearning, still searching. It’s instinctive to wipe tears, heal hurt, and try to make better.
    Kudos to saying that feeling broken – embracing it even, makes me part of this club. Weird? Not really… just honest.

  • marjore

    During a particularly rough time in my life I went to a new age church to look for answers. They had lots of them… all revolving around the “don’t worry, be happy, if you think it you can have it” line of bullshit. So I decided if the damn universe is so wise (and who am I to judge the freakin” universe?) that it created light AND darkness for us to have and hold then we should embrace it all.

  • Maria

    Dear Janelle,
    You should get a honorary degree in psychology, you’re great at this shit. I’m in grad school for psychology and one of the major things we try to teach clients is to not evaluate your feelings. Because, surprisingly, being anxious about being anxious makes you more anxious. But at the end of the day the client goes home and everyone around them freaks the fuck out every time they express any minor negative feeling. I hope everyone reads this post and starts feeling okay about not feeling okay.

  • E

    You explained what some of us have so perfectly. No it is not depression or clinical and we can get up and get on with it, we can feed, bathe and love our kids and find the best schools for them and be on top of shit. But, but in our inner self-the self we knew at age 9 standing in the garden wondering why do humans have to die, -that self is here and it is not going away, no matter how hard we push it out. No matter how hard we try to be happy happy GOldie Hawn-ish and press on to the sunshine. We can never be that happy golden girl, we are dark and often brooding, but are together enough to ‘get it together’ and move on.
    Gosh, thank you for writing this, it is exactly how I feel.

  • Jesika Mc

    I just wanted to say thank you, I been in such a mom rutt lately & found your blog after googling “why the fuck won’t my baby go to sleep” ! So it looks like we could totally hang out. I’m on my 1st baby he’s a year old & man this year has fucking kicked my ass, why didn’t anyone warn me about this mom shit!?? But yeah reading your stuff has really helped me I’m struggling with alcohol ALOT right now & the guilt of always wanting to drink when I have such a gorgeous little boy to be grateful for. I’m sure I married the wrong man too, I’m always angry or tired. Im sure my husband will leave me any day now… Ok I’m super dramatic too but all jokes aside, I’m not sure how my wonderful husband puts up with me, love I guess. I know I’ve got a long road ahead of me to get me back to the woman I know I am & can be, I just wanted to say thank you for being a light for me when I was sure I was alone in this fuck-I’m-a-mom world all by myself. Thank you for being you & speaking your mind ????????

  • Heather

    I think the German word, sehnsucht, captures this “itch of the unfulfilled”, this ache, this awareness of the wholeness of life: the good and the bad, the song and the lament. It is achingly beautiful, and really fucked up, but in such a real, deep way. Scars where we’ve been “fixed,” but remind us of what broke. Thank you for your thoughts.

  • Laura

    I love your candor and especially connected with so much of what you said–especially the part about growing the most after the worst situations.

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