The struggle is real!
A few days ago (in The Struggle Is Real Part I) I allowed my heart to bleed onto the page as I shared some of my struggles – past and present. I promised to continue these thoughts and not leave you hanging.
What’s been your experience with pain and struggle? Is it fear in a very tenuous situation? Unemployment? Disrespect, maybe even abuse? Financial strain? A diagnosis that has you reeling? Intense loneliness?
What I’ve come to realize is that crises have similarities.
You feel isolated and alone.
It feels like you are dying inside or drowning emotionally.
You have difficulty seeing beyond the present, overwhelming situation.
It’s hard to actually think clearly.
First of all, please know that you are not alone.
Even though what you’re going through is unique and very personal, there are people who genuinely care about you and your wellbeing. I know that you reading this is not accidental, and though we may only know each other online, I truly care about what you are going through.
Here are some of the things I work at regularly when I experience difficult times:
I try to …
be aware – I ask myself: what am I feeling? Where do my (sometimes irrational) thoughts originate? What is true? What is causing me pain and anxiety at the moment?
Maybe it’s loss (a loved one; possessions; a pet; everything familiar). Or it’s financial insecurity (I find it extremely difficult to admit when I’m struggling financially, as I somehow feel like a complete failure).
Becoming aware of what is going on inside of you gradually begins to be reassuring: your struggle is suddenly not merely a dark, heavy, undefinable form, but is linked to tangible experiences.
be honest – even though you can’t tell everyone all the difficult things you’re experiencing, you can tell someone some of it.
As I mentioned in Part I, I’ve recently made a move across the country. Some weeks ago I attended a party where I was asked: “How are you enjoying it here by now?” I knew this question was certain to come, so I wasn’t caught off guard. I said: “I absolutely love things like this (the party); there are still things that are challenging, and will be for a while.
If you’ve just made a major move, this is for you: someone cautioning me to allow 1-2 full years for the adjustment. I don’t even want that to be true, but experience tells me it is. Even though that sounds like a long time, this advice is so helpful.
reach out to someone – near or far. Technology has given us amazing tools; use them to your advantage. How can others know what you’re going through if you don’t share? It’s so important that you find someone you can be 100% honest with. Someone who won’t throw shade. Won’t pass judgment. Won’t preach. Won’t heap guilt.
People have often told me they thought I had it all together. Sigh. Nothing is farther from the truth. I’m a private person, being selective whom I share with and how much I share. But I do not have it all together. Over the years I’ve actually needed to learn how to share what I’m going through.
recall – how did you maneuver past challenges or pain? What helped previously when you were lonely? When money was tight? When you were reeling from rejection? When you were given an assignment you felt unqualified for?
I admit I often think: this time it’s different. I’ve made it all the other times, but I won’t make it this time. No. This time is not unique. You’ve made it before and you will make it now.
How did you manage to make it before? What helped you through in the past? If you are a person of faith, did God / your faith or spiritual practices play a role? What was it that sustained you? Could this guide you forward?
find something that lifts your spirit and provides a center. That can be a hobby, working out, going out to see a movie. It can be prayer or finding a faith community. It can be a centering routine which connects you to God. It can be music, photography, or another art form.
Many of these things nurture me, but I also have to write. Writing breathes life into my soul. What is that for you? Taking time for something light and fun is incredibly healing.
I also turn my focus toward God who is and has been a constant. My image of God has changed over time; I have have doubted, neglected to nurture my relationship with God, and been deeply frustrated by proponents of “faith”. But God has always been there. I find God in stillness, in nature, in another’s acceptance, in scriptures, in prayer, in writing, in music and art – in so many ways.
call for help. There is no stigma in drawing from another’s wisdom, energy and light. I have called on a professional for help frequently. If you need someone to walk alongside as you try to understand what’s going on, to heal from journey-wounds and to focus on how to move forward, I invite you to get in touch (via the contact form). I would love to hear from you.
Photo credit: Matthew Henry via unsplash.com
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MMckein via pixabay.com