Good Advice, Bad Advice

A few nights ago I was talking to a family member, and she was telling me about a friend whose relationship with her boyfriend had just ended. Honestly, I was watching television and writing and only half-listening to the conversation, but one thing she said stood out.

“Should I just tell her to get over it?”

I heard that line, snapped to attention, and quickly told her no…even though that little piece of advice is probably something I would have tossed around myself just a few years ago. But now. That advice.

Get over it.

It’s harsh. It implies that something is wrong with the person in question, the one hurting who is—for whatever reason—unable to get over anything. It implies that the heart is merely an organ perfectly able to bow to our demands with a stern, “Do it because I said so!” It implies that grief and sadness are stupid, and that anyone who finds themselves reeling in either one is weak. It’s a phrase I’ve heard thrown around a lot in the past couple of years—toward me, toward people I care about. But here’s the thing: if we could all just get over things with the snap of our fingers, there would be no need for emotion. There would be no need for tears or pain or feelings in general, because if all those things could be reined in by a leash tied in knots around our hearts…then the emotions we’re feeling weren’t all that real in the first place. Which means there would be no point to humans connecting on more than a surface level at all. Because humans would be objects, not very real people contending with very real souls.

Read Brave New World—that’s who we would be. And frankly, I’m not interested in that kind of existence.

Get over it.

Personally, I would rather spend an entire lifetime unable to get over things than to shut down my heart and live a peacefully numb existence. I would rather feel every uncomfortable thing imaginable than risk growing cold. I would rather cry endless tears of grief than steel myself against the very things God designed our hearts to endure. Our hearts are meant to beat inside us for a reason. Sometimes they beat for a cause. Sometimes for a dream. Sometimes for an event. Sometimes for a person. And I don’t believe any of those things—not causes or dreams or events or people—are ever put in our paths to merely get over.

Now, move on?

Is that a better bit of advice to give?

Possibly. Possibly not.

I’m not a believer in wallowing or remaining in a place of sadness for long. I’m also not a fan of begging anyone or anything to stick around if the interest fades. But I am a fan of feelings. I am a fan of emotions. I live by both. I write by both. If I weren’t an emotional person, I wouldn’t have much to say…I wouldn’t have many stories to tell. And because of that, I think the best way to deal with our emotions—the good, the bad, the painful—is to dive into them. To swim in them. To be taken under and be swallowed whole by them.

It’s only then that we can emerge cleaner…more hopeful…with a clearer view of the world…with a brand new chance to start over and make something better happen next time.

But for now…go ahead and swim in your pain. Walk with your pain. Hold hands with your pain. Smile your through your pain. Laugh through your pain. And always remember this:

The things that hurt the worst are the things we care about the most. Which makes them always…always…the very things worth living for.


amy matayo signature


“There’s a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out, but I pour whiskey on him and inhale cigarette smoke.” –Charles Bukowski

Let the bluebird out.

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