The Weep and Rally
In all my life, I never dreamed that I would find inspiration from the floor of a nightclub bathroom.
As the permanent, self-appointed designated driver of my friend group, it is my job to keep everyone safe, keep general tabs on the group, and hold back the hair and water glass of whichever friend inevitably puked by the end of the night. For the first few years, I didn’t have to perform the latter task. That is, until my best friend’s birthday in September.
People had been buying her drinks all night to celebrate, and I didn’t think much of it. I didn’t realize she was in danger until someone handed her a small, deadly orange concoction containing three shots of some sort of unspeakably strong alcohol. She took one sip, and within minutes her complexion paled.
She ran to the bathroom with me in tow. There was a line going out the door, and she paused for a moment to see if she would be able to wait; apparently she couldn’t. In a split second, she lunged past the line and dove for a garbage can I couldn’t even spot that was tucked under the bathroom sink. It was a fluid movement, so swift and masterful that I couldn’t help but believe that this was not her first rodeo. She swiped the bin out from under the sink just in time to catch the first wave, and proceeded to empty the contents of her stomach. I was in awe, really. I had never seen her sick like that before, and despite her impressive performance to get there, I was sure she was going to need to be taken home for the night.
However, to my surprise, when she finished puking my friend stood up, cleaned off her face, fixed her hair, and returned to the party like nothing happened. As she rejoined the crowd of our friends, she put her hand up in a ‘cowabunga’ symbol and shouted “Puke and Rally!” Everyone laughed, and a few people high-fived her and called the whole thing “legendary.”
Puke and Rally, I was informed later on that night, is when you drink to the point of sickness, throw everything up, and then “rally” or return to the event feeling better once the toxins are out. It was, and still is, a fascinating concept to me. The more I think about it, the more I begin to think of the Puke and Rally as more than just something that occurs during a Friday night alcohol binge. It is a whole system of thought, one that can help us make sense of and cope with our problems.
To put it in a grossly generalized and vastly unqualified way, it seems to me that life is a lot like drinking alcohol. Sometimes it’s good; there are fun times and crazy times and confusing times. But gradually, you can get overloaded. Things just keep building up until your body shuts down and empties itself, releasing all of the toxins you’ve been building up. Just like a puke and rally, where you expunge all of the bad stuff in your stomach, having a mental breakdown and crying your eyes out when life sucks lets you clear your body of all of the negativity inside. It’s the same concept, but for emotions. This adapted concept comes complete with a new mantra: The Weep and Rally.
The Weep and Rally has quickly become my motto. It’s extremely convoluted, but bear with me here as I explain.
Whenever things get crappy, people always tell me not to think about the bad and instead focus on the good. But here’s the thing; telling someone not to think about the bad is like telling someone not think about a black dog. As soon as you say it, they’re going to think about a black dog, because that is the brain’s way of processing the words by attaching imagery and previous knowledge to them. Not only that, but it becomes excruciatingly difficult to not do something as soon as someone tells you to. It’s the reason reverse psychology exists, and why it is often ineffective to say “don’t look now” and expect someone to not immediately turn around.
The point is, ignoring the bad and only focusing on the good has never actually worked for me…ever. Because the fact is, sometimes life sucks, and society just expecting you to ignore that fact only makes everything worse. It makes people blindly optimistic rather than truly happy. Without acknowledging that life can be terrible sometimes, how can you really appreciate the times that it isn’t, the times when things actually work out? How can you fully appreciate good without bad?
To further this thinking, I challenge everyone who says not to think about the bad to consider what that really entails. For example, ignoring an infectious disease in your leg and focusing on your healthy eyesight doesn’t make the disease go away. It just means that you don’t notice as much while it eats away at you slowly and does more damage. Acknowledging the disease means that you can do something about it before it gets to that point. When you bottle up negative emotions by refusing to acknowledge them, you let them build up until they tear you apart.
The purpose of the Weep and Rally is to release all of those built up emotions, to let yourself break down and cry and wallow in just how awful everything is for a little while. I’m not just talking about regular crying, either. I’m talking chest- heaving, shoulder-shaking, nose-leaking, mascara-streaking weeping. Weeping like there’s no one watching, like your life depends on it. I’m talking just letting go, getting all of the toxins you’ve held inside for so long out and in front of you so you can face them.
Sometimes you just have to fully acknowledge that something completely blows before you can get up and move on from it. If you get dumped, don’t force yourself to immediately say “oh well, I’m better off,” just because that’s what everyone wants you to think. You can let yourself hurt, cry, stop and say “wow this is the worst feeling ever.” And once you do, it might just start to go away. If you get a speeding ticket, if you lose your job, if you make a bad decision and screw something up completely, allow yourself to feel the pain. Allow yourself to be sad and to let go and to curse your ancestors for causing you to exist at this moment in time when this kind of crappy stuff occurs. Sometimes you just have to contemplate the futility of your existence in order to appreciate it.
But the most important thing to do, after all the crying and colorful language, is to rally. This is where some people get stuck. They get so caught up in the weeping part that they forget to rally, to recover from the mess and chaos. It’s crucial to remember, after you’re done letting everything out, to get back up and start again. The tank is empty and ready to be filled with garbage once again. It’s time to bounce back and give it another go around.
Go-ahead, life, round two, I can take it. Hit me with your best shot.
It doesn’t matter that it might be hopeless— that bad things will just keep happening and life will keep kicking you down over and over again, no matter how many times you get back up. Because at the end of the day, when the going gets tough, you have two choices; you can get back up and rejoin the crowd, or you can turn around and go home. You decide which.
Life is full of choices. We often make bad ones, but when we do, we have the chance to make better ones. When you find yourself sprawled on the bathroom floor of life, you always have the choice to pick yourself up, wash your face, and return to the party. And I think that’s pretty cool.
Not just cool.