The best advice…

I was reading through some old posts and came upon this fabulous comment…

A long time ago in the military doing boot I was having a very miserable day where nothing was going right. Near the end of the day the platoon corporal sat me down and gave me one of the best pieces of advice I had ever been given. After finding out what my tale of woe was he said “Son if you are looking for sympathy the only place you are going to find it is in the dictionary between shit and syphilis.”

And I flashed back to a very bad day when a nurse paused by my bed and asked why I looked so sad.

“They’re going to cut my leg [back] off,” I sniffed, expecting a lot of sympathy.

And she replied something to the effect of, “You’ll get over it.”

At the time I thought that was the worst thing I’d ever heard. How could she be so unfeeling?

But in fact she was absolutely right. I mean what the hell else was she supposed to say? She was right. I did.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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5 Responses to The best advice…

  1. Well,..yeah…but sometimes what you need to hear right now isn’t what you need to hear right now.

    However….I had a somewhat similar experience. I’d had a knock-you-to-your-knees life-changing experience and I was crying about it to someone and they listened politely and said “Harden the fuck up”. And, actually, it made me feel better. But I also recall if anyone else had said it the result would have been different.

    Still and all, if me and a limb were going separate ways I would hope for a little more tact and sympathy.

  2. Claire says:

    Yeah, I think a little sympathy followed by “You’ll get over it” would have been just the thing — especially for something as big as losing a leg when you’re 17.

    “You’ll get over it” all by itself is still pretty damned cold — even if true.

  3. Joel says:

    I imagine sympathy is the first thing to burn out in an ICU nurse.

    It was around the time of that same anecdote I had a sort of epiphany, which seemed profound to teenage me and which has served me well if rather coldly through a long and not always pleasant life: The most foolish sentence in the English or probably any language is “It’s not fair!”

    Life is not fair and never promised to be, so the best thing you can do is suck it up and get on with it.

  4. Ben says:

    I have had the usual number of really bad days in my life; the death of love ones, suddenly failing love affairs, I’ve been fired etc. etc. etc. But as devastating and unacceptable as each of those days was, they all shared one important feature; Viewed from a year later, they all seemed smaller in the rear view mirror. Why? Because life has a way of healing itself if you let it.

    Now if you think about it, the above is exactly the same “You’ll get over it” principle that Joel’s nurse espoused , just presented in a more gentle and useful form.

  5. Kentucky says:

    The difference being, of course, that Joel has a daily reminder of his really bad day.

    When I review my “really bad days”, none come remotely close.

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