If you are lucky, you have one. If you are lucky, the universe dealt you a shitty hand and you persevered. You overcame. You are a better human now. Don’t harbor resentment. Being in the shit -is the shit. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Who doesn’t love a good, tragic backstory? It’s what rips the human soul apart, leaving behind the remnants where something beautiful will someday grow.
I have heard so many stories. So so many stories. The human condition is such that it is equal parts tragically beautiful and painfully horrific. Animals with the tastes of God. Never satisfied, but completely inept. Consuming relentlessly. Other humans get in the way. And they get consumed, too. If you survive this, you would never do it to someone else. At least you think you won’t.
People with a story, that’s what I love. I love to hear their tale. I love to follow the tragic thread to its final glorious conclusion. They survived. They made it. I want to clap my hands with joy! They deserve a standing ovation! Evil did not prevail! It’s like the epic ending to the Bible: Evil loses, love wins. Except this isn’t global annihilation. It’s on a tiny microscopic scale of a single human on a planet of 7 billion. And they told their one unique beautiful tragic backstory to me. As if I’m worthy.
The stories that are hardest to hear are the ones where they are still mired in the shit. It’s over, but it’s not. They won’t let it. They stay there and it makes them sick. It turns them the color of formica in a 1970’s kitchen. Bleached yellows and moldy greens, muted blues and rusty orange. It’s along the edges almost beyond the ability of the human eye to see, practically imperceptible, but it’s there, staining them with the residue of a dreadful past. There aren’t enough antidepressants and anxiety pills to wash away that stain. They get sicker and sicker. It invades the blood stream. It infects the brain. The soul is overcome.
These are the ones I try so desperately to save. I try to show them that the world has good in it, too. If they would just hold onto the lifeline I offer, maybe just maybe, we can collectively pull them out of the shit. And it’s not just me. It’s my staff. It’s the nurses. It’s my colleagues. It’s the therapists and the pharmacists. It’s a collection of the tiniest bits of kindness that string together over time and envelope them. If they let it. If they meet me half way. If they let their tragic backstory become a source of strength instead of a noose around their neck.