Do you remember that part in Breakfast at Tiffany’s where the lovely Holly Golightly played by the immortal Audrey Hepburn has this conversation with Pauley Baby?
Holly Golightly: You know those days when you get the mean reds?
Paul Varjak: The mean reds–you mean like the blues?
Holly Golightly: No. The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long. You’re just sad–that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?
I think we’ve probably all experienced the mean reds that Holly describes.
It’s important to make a distinction between the mean reds I am talking about and depression. Depression is a really different monster entirely and what I’m talking about is the common, everyday, everyone type sadness that happens frequently and dissipates.
The mean reds can be tricky to navigate and recover from but if y’all are anything like me, one of the biggest struggles of the mean reds or the blues is an inability to avoid moping around and feeling sorry for yourself. As I said in Let Yourself Feel Your Feels it’s important to feel out an emotion and understand it, but there does come a time when it needs to stop and it’s time to move on.
This is where tough love comes in. My family and most of my close friends are tough love type people. They don’t let you sit around and mope for too long and sometimes this is really irritating. Sometimes all you want to do is sit around for eternity feeling bad about things and eating your body weight in chocolate, but usually tough love is what you need to keep moving forward and get yourself out of the mean reds. Tough love is the one thing you didn’t want to hear but absolutely needed to hear and it can be hard to take.
The reason tough love can be so great, though, is because it often brings to light something really obvious that we can’t manage to see on our own. Usually it’s a good chance for us to get some perspective and gauge the actual depth of the problem. We all know that it’s not worth the time and energy to let ourselves fall into emotional ruts and really no one likes feeling horrible, but that doesn’t mean we don’t fall into the trap sometimes.
The next time someone offers you some tough love–some stop-feeling-sorry-for-yourself-get-dressed-and-come-get-pizza-with-me–love (direct quote from a friend of mine, by the way), welcome it. As much as you can, just welcome it. If someone has the guts to sit you down and give you a slap (metaphorically) to bring you back to reality, they probably really love you and what they’re telling you is probably something you need to hear to get away from the mean reds.
Even our girl Holly Golightly got some tough love from Paul, but it was just what she needed to hear so they (and we) could get to that happy ending.
Paul Varjak: You know what’s wrong with you, Miss Whoever-you-are? You’re chicken, you’ve got no guts. You’re afraid to stick out your chin and say, “Okay, life’s a fact, people do fall in love, people do belong to each other, because that’s the only chance anybody’s got for real happiness.” You call yourself a free spirit, a “wild thing,” and you’re terrified somebody’s gonna stick you in a cage. Well baby, you’re already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it’s not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas, or in the east by Somali-land. It’s wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.
The next time a loved one sits you down and gives you some tough love, take it.