by Lori Dwyer on August 14, 2012 · 23 comments

“If you have to leave,
Then I wish that you would just leave.
Your presence still lingers here,
And it won’t leave me alone…”

People adore platitudes. They make them feel better.

I have a library of them, a veritable catalogue of them stored in my head that have been said to me well meaning friends and relatives with the very best of intentions. Every one of them has served to piss me off and increase, not decrease, the sense of furious anger I feel toward the Universe.

People like to say “It will all work out” or “The best rainbows come after the storm” or “Think positive and good things will happen to you”.


There’s a certain vibe that emanates from people occasionally. It’s deep sympathy and pity mixed with an inherent belief system I understood once upon a time, because it was what I believed, too– that there existed within the world some kind of balancing force, some karmic pendulum that would ensure good people were happy and rewarded for the act of just being ‘good’, eventually.

And again, I say… bullshit.

If that’s true… can you prove it to me?

I spent five years working with children who had terminal illnesses. And then I sit beside my husband while he dies after we’ve been married just eighteen months.

Where does that fit into the equation?

“It doesn’t exactly work like that”, a friend attempts to reassure me. “It’s not so much karmic forces. It’s just logic– if you act like an arse, you will end up alone and probably miserable. If you’re a nice person, people will want to be around you.”

But there is scantly little that is ‘logical’ about the social behavior of human beings, when it comes down to it.

So again I say- bullshit. And present my evidence to the contrary.

When my husband died there was one person in particular who you would have assumed, given the circumstances, would be one of the first to offer love and supportive. Not only did they withdraw their own support, they advocated for others to do the same.

At the time there was little I could offer myself in way of comfort. I found myself counting my friends on two hands, and then one. The best I could do was believe what I’d always believed– that the inherent perpetually turning wheels of karma would work their justice. That this person would, eventually, be alone and miserable once people realized the kind of blackness through which she viewed the world, the way she lashed out and bit at those most vulnerable in her pain.

Eighteen months later and my own loneliness stabs great big jagged rips through my core most days. My self esteem is in mangled, trodden upon pieces on a dirty garage floor. I’ve lost so many of the people closest to me. Dating is a tactical and emotional battlefield, and I scare people with the depth of my emotions that don’t feel so intense to me, but must see, like looking into water so clear you can see it turn from turquoise to ink black but so deep you cannot see the bottom.

I try not to weigh myself up against others most days. I don’t compare myself or my situation… it feels as though everyone else always come out better off, and there’s no point in feeling like that.

But if I do compare things and events and people, and I really can’t help it on the occasional necessary visit to this one particular person’s house… I see the difference between the life they are living and my own, stark and real and in direct contradiction to any idea that karma governs life.

Because I witness her surrounded by friends, a partner, multiple people who love her. She has all of her friends… and a lot of mine, too.

Where’s the balance in that? There isn’t one. Everyone can note their own examples, I’m sure. A man who worked hard all his life only to be left on financial ruin by bad circumstances, versus someone who had never done an honest days work in their life and yet has blessings fall abundantly into their lap. The sweet woman who adores children and cannot conceive, versus the mother of four who does not seem to care one way or another. The pack-a-day smoker who lives to be ninety, versus the young healthy father of six who has a heart attack on his daily jog.

It will work out, we tell ourselves. A window does not close without a door opening. The Universe rewards goodness, kindness and honestly eventually.

Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. If I’m required to believe any of that, then show me evidence. Pile up the stories and anecdotes you can recount that restore faith in human nature against the ones that I could tell you which speak to its desecration.

Your pile will never stack up to mine.

If that sounds bitter… well… it is. If it sounds as though I’m becoming all those things I didn’t want to be… then maybe I am.

Because maybe it’s not bitterness. Just reality catching up with my naivety. It had to happen eventually.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Being Me August 15, 2012 at 8:48 pm

My own sister created a reason to disown me, 18 months in to my life-shattering no-turning-back grief. Totally turned it around to suit her and got everyone around me looking on me as the trouble-maker (when I was barely holding my shit together… they should've all known better, but they obviously didn't). It's been 7 years now. She pretends I am dead. I've stopped holding my breath. It took me 5 years to stop mulling it over, stop reaching and waiting to get to the platform where I felt justified and validated by all the hurt that just kept getting piled upon the losses I already felt. It took cognitive therapy, soul searching, screaming, crying, periods of pragmatism, periods of banshee-screeching, periods of feeling my head would split in two, that I might actually be insane now….. to reach a point where it dissipated.

Years, it took.

I'm only saying this to you because I can hear – through all your wonderful words and working this out step by step (you are so honest with yourself, it is truly a great gift to you.. from you!) – that you are so hard on yourself. I cannot stand platitudes either. And I honestly don't mean this to be one, but seriously? Lori? Just keep stepping. Tune out the rest. Have your gnashing-teeth, pillow-tearing, insane-making moments. They happen. Then get on with it (again… and again… and again). Life IS what you make of it. If that makes me a platitude-offerer, I'm sorry and so be it. xxxxx


Anonymous August 15, 2012 at 11:10 am


You have come so far – which gives you a nice long view back.

I would love it if you would turn this "platitudes" idea around and write on how to properly deal with people, like yourself, who are experiencing the extreme emotions surrounding devastating loss and long term grief. What is the best way to walk up to the raging fury of despair and provide true comfort in the absence of empathy. I have tried my best to find something not-annoying to say. So far the best thing I can come up with is "My heart weeps for your pain." But maybe the best thing to say is "Can I pick your kids up for a playdate this week?"

Is suffering a prerequisite to understanding suffering? Can I be of any service to my suffering friend unless I share her particular pain? If anyone has insight on this issue, its probably you.

BTW, I have always wondered — why jellybeans? Is it an Aussie thing?



Anonymous August 15, 2012 at 10:18 am

I'm thinking it was family that turned their back :( yeah, i've had that happen too. Life sucks sometimes, and its not fair. I'm sorry you are hurting so bad. I'm proud of you for going on, one step at a time. Your kids need you x Keep holding on. Carol x


Take Charge Becc August 15, 2012 at 9:27 am

Lori, I've been to this place many times, but I can't live there so I try to believe somehow, someway things will get better. Sometimes you need to wallow in it and others to believe and hope the up days will take over the down days. This is just how I cope :)


Confessions of a Wanna Be Yogini. August 15, 2012 at 7:25 am


Everyone here has already said so much of what is in my heart… and my head… but I managed to pull myself out of the pits of despair, and the surroundings of suffering. I spent time reading a lot of Buddhist books, the dhali llama, Deepak Chopra, just reading. I got so tired of being someone who just felt so… helpless, hopeless, and utterly devastated all the time. I started practicing yoga at home, and went to ohmharmonics and started their meditation series. Bit by bit, slowly, life started to turn around, and then BAM, there was a snap, after a terrible car accident, the pains of being a single mother, the frustration of being without family to help, on either side of my childs life… it was all encompassing.

There's little things that you'll find comfort in. Seek your passion. Learn your passion, and then live it. I've seen you grow SO much in the days following the after… and though I don't comment much, I want you to know that there is no right or wrong way of feeling. Those feelings are yours, and you own them. They're not up for discussion, or persuasive change, they just are.. and that my love, is okay.

I'm on your side, so are so many others <3

~a friend, from afar.


Anonymous August 15, 2012 at 7:21 am

Hi, Just read your blog. You are heading away from enlightenment instead of heading toward it! Read "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle and find the Love again.


Anonymous August 15, 2012 at 6:39 am

Either you can play the victim, or you can acknowledge that yes, this happened, but it also happened to Tony and all the other people who knew him and who know you.

There IS such a thing as the Law of Attraction. As above, so below… as within, so without. What you think about, you bring about. So while the pain and the memories are there, try to focus on what you loved most about Tony, and you will attract more loving people and experiences into your life.

I've had alot of horrible shit happen to me too but I have to pick up the pieces somehow and keep living and learning.


Cassondra August 15, 2012 at 3:29 am

I don't know that "it will all work out," but I do think we will make it through and there will be better times. It's just nature that eventually the pendulum swings the other way.


Melissa August 14, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Hey Lori, you're absolutely right. It doesn't balance out. Bad things happen to good people. Horrible, crummy, selfish people find success. I'm with the flying drunken monkey a few comments before mine – I got into Buddhism after some losses in my life and I learned that the unfolding of karma happens over lots (and lots) of lifetimes – not just this one. For some reason, that made me feel better – if I could get through the hard times in this lifetime without accumulating additional negative karma – I won't have to go through it again next time around. I can do the work in this lifetime and stop the pattern.
Lots of love to you, Lori.


Anonymous August 14, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Oh, Lori… What can I say? You're right. There is no "suffering quota" that decides you've had enough and tells the Universe to leave you alone. There is no magic that always makes everything even out (at least not that we can see). By rights, your so-called "friend" (and believe me when I say that I truly am sorry that it's necessary to see her, however briefly and infrequently, rather than just casting her aside the way she did you) should be suffering, should be getting her comeuppance. Maybe she will later on, maybe she won't.

All I can say is, whenever I feel like I'm losing hope, whenever I feel that life is, and will always be, just shit, some stupid endurance test that I'm not sure I can get through, I try to remind myself that there is still good in this world. I think of the guy from Toronto who saw an American woman being bullied on a school bus on YouTube and immediately started a fund-raiser to send her on a nice vacation – and ended up raising, I think, $700,000 for her. I think of the way people rush to help when there's a natural disaster like the earthquake in Japan or the tsunami in Indonesia. Maybe that's the thing – yeah, life is shit, but there will always be people who care enough to try to help you through it, even if all they can do is leave a sympathetic comment on a blog post.

– Crystal


Annieb25 August 14, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Lori sometimes it does feel like karma doesn't work or isn't real. I felt the same way, until recently, when after 13 years the people who tried to take everything from me, are finally getting their karma. They are reaping what they sowed. Life does have a way of working out. Stay true to you. Love your kids. Step through each day, one step at a time. I know it's like walking through quicksand, but just keep walking – it stops you sinking. xxx


The Flying Drunken Monkey August 14, 2012 at 9:27 pm

I've been studying Buddhism lately and one thing I've found is Karma doesn't really mean what every one seems to think it means – it doesn't mean that if you do something bad, something bad will happen to you and vice versa. It's more about actions and habits. If we think something bad or do something bad then we create the habit and we are more likely to do the same next time.
Of course, life is shit (something that Buddhism recognises as well!) and some things happen that are just… shit. I don't think it's possible to blame anyone or anything. I wish I could find the words to make everything better for you, but I know nothing will. xxxx


Drea B August 14, 2012 at 8:06 pm

My father died when I was 6, that's when I learned that life doesn't have a happy ending. Bad things happen, and there's no compensation. There's no karma, there's no force of fairness.

To quote my favourite movie "Life is pain. Anyone who says differently is selling something."

To those posters who mention God – when my father died, I was told not to cry but to be happy. After all, this is God's plan so why be upset. I have had nothing to do with religion since. If God thinks taking a child's father away is a good thing to do, then I want no part of his plan.


Donna August 14, 2012 at 6:41 pm

I'm guilty of dishing out platitudes but sometimes you think its better than saying nothing at all.

As for karma and balancing out the good with the bad in life, all I can hope for you Lori is that you live to see a long life where somehow, someway there does occur something that makes you sit back and say "Some good has come out of this shittiness". It could very well be this blog, and its awesome mental health awareness that saves lives (and I am sure it has already) that does it.

I'm sorry for rambling, and hope I havent offended in any way, just want you to know I'm hoping that one day you get repaid with some sort of magic in life because I know you deserve it x


Miss Pink August 14, 2012 at 3:29 pm

I call bullshit on a lot of "comfort sayings" they offer no comfort and they never enventuate.


Bin August 14, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Well said Lori! I'm a bit of a negative Nelly (at times when shit happens, nothing massive but just shit) and have been told I'm exactly so. But I feel it's being realistic rather than negative in some cases… P.s – On a brighter note – I love the word or words Bullshit! My Son used to call people "a bullshit' when he was about two! Too Funny. From the mouths of babes


Martha August 14, 2012 at 1:23 pm

I'll raise my hand as being guilty of offering platitudes. I know how empty my words are, and yet I sometimes don't know what else to say to friends.

The truth I'd like to say is "Shit happens, life sucks, you don't deserve this and I wish it hadn't happened." But I'm not sure that offers any comfort at all. I suppose at least, it wouldn't be so empty.


Anonymous August 14, 2012 at 12:08 pm

You're not bitter, just realistic. There's no such thing as karma. 'But there is God. A God who most of us reject, and that's why the world is a mess. It's called sin. The world as we know it is engulfed in sin and death and decay. Sin caused your friend to reject you at your time of need. Death took your husband away. But God has promised an end to sin and death and decay. His son Jesus died and took upon himself God's anger at us for sinning and rejecting him. If we accept this, God forgives us and offers us life forever with him – pure, lovely life with no sin or death or decay. Call it religious mumbo-jumbo if you like, but why not read the Bible and come to your own conclusion? The book of Luke is a good place to start.


Toni August 14, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Absolutely it's reality, Lori. Life isn't fair. It should be, but it's not.
Sometimes karma DOES get those people, but sometimes it doesn't. Horrible people get away with doing horrible things, and that's just the way it is.
Me, though, I'm choosing to try to be better, not bitter. Not because I'll get a reward out of it, because I probably won't. Every day I expect the next Bad Thing to happen to me, but I try not to let that run my life.
It's a struggle. Some days I don't know why I try.
I'm not much of a Christian, but the Bible actually has lots to say about not envying the wicked, like
Proverbs 24:19 Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of the wicked
I don;t know why that has helped me when I ignore so much of the rest of the Bible! but it has. I don't want to be one of Those People, and I just have to concentrate on doing what I think is right for me, and not worry about what they're up to.
Sorry this has turned into a bit of a sermon. X


Spagsy August 14, 2012 at 11:44 am

I have a friend who iwas introduced to me by another friend so that the first friend who shut up and realise that things in her life weren't as bad as things in mine.

I wish I had an answer for you, as I believe you deserve one. I find that especially in the depths of your sorrow, one that no one can begin to understand, we find. Inspiration.

Everyday you choose the road less travelled and I find myself inspired. I don't mean that the way it sounds either. I have no idea of the road you are walking, and although we share a few things in common I just mean it that I'm inspired to do what I can, when I can, with what I have.
And that's what you blog about. Regardless of where you are in life, you are Lori.

And that's why we love you. Each in our different way. (even those who troll)
Xxxrah rah from Lara (lol never gets old)


mml August 14, 2012 at 11:16 am

I feel ya. Everything you said is spot on.


Anonymous August 14, 2012 at 11:03 am

It is bitter and only you taste the bile. Your pile will never stack up against mine..you say…..change your mindset. It ain't no competition. Plenty better off than you and YES plenty worse off. Yes there are, plenty way worse off. Love your blog xox Tanya


Lyndal August 14, 2012 at 10:14 am

i think people tell themselves whatever they have to to make themselves feel better – and by that, i more mean with the karma stuff, and the logic stuff, and the hope that things will somehow work out.
But, like you said, life is shitty. You have had to go through infinitely more shit than anyone in their lifetime should ever have to. in fact, most people will not. So, yes, I absolutely agree with what you have written here.
that probably sounds really horrible, but bad things happen to good people – there is no rhyme or reason to life, as much as i wish there were. i am glad you are still writing, and processing and feeling – working through life as best as ou can xx


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