I have a confession. I am not always happy and I don’t always have a good attitude. The people who know me think that I am always positive and fine. That’s because when I am struggling, I hide it behind a smile, because I don’t want others to be discouraged or disappointed.
I recently understood how silly this is.
Let me back up a bit. A week or so ago, during a moment of frustration, I cried at work. Yep, me; the always cheery, funny, happy me. Something dark took hold of me and for several days I felt exhausted, stressed, sad, and overwhelmed. Furthermore, I was beating myself up for not being in a good mood.
Then one morning, I was in that foggy stage of barely waking up, when something in my spirit said, “Make a list of everything you are dealing with.” I’ve learned through the years not to ignore this sort of mysterious advice, so I immediately grabbed a pad and pen and made a list. It went something like this:
- My car is utterly unreliable, no one in my little town knows what’s wrong with it, I’m not sure if I can get it to another town, if it can be fixed, or if I will have the money when I get a diagnosis.
- Through this pandemic, the company I work for, has managed to stay in business, and I have had a job. However, there have been cutbacks, layoffs, and a feeling of uncertainty. Recently, my ability to keep my income relies to a certain degree on my ability to perform duties that are new, stressful, frustrating, scary, and way out of my comfort zone.
- I have a phobia of wasps. Yes, I know. Everyone is afraid of wasps, but I had a terrifying experience as a child and this fear is paralyzing. Lately, the wasps have built homes beneath the floorboards on my front balcony. An exterminator has come several times to no avail. The worst part is I live on the second floor and often cannot go down the stairs because of those demons. One day last week, I feared I would not make it to work on time. Ugh.
- I have a new doctor and she is messing with my medication which has affected my metabolism and energy levels.
- I was left out of an important event in the life of someone who has my heart. I felt disconnected, alone, and heartbroken.
- I am planning a vacation which is very important to me, but I’m not totally sure of my job security.
- In January, I had all my teeth pulled and got dentures, (something I’ve been dreaming of for years). But the dream has become a nightmare. Covid 19 prolonged all my adjustments for months and to make a long story short, I have not had solid food this year.
This was a lot to deal with all at once. Every one of my problems would refuse to be compartmentalized for a convenient time to deal with it. They overlap and collide constantly.
Let me see if I can hit each item on the list above as succinctly as possible. Each day, I wake up with no energy, I pray I can get down the stairs, pray my car will get me to work, pray I can keep my job, and pray my job will let me go on vacation. All of this fear feeds my feelings of overwhelm and aloneness. I’d feel better about all this if I could just have a nice meal!
Hopefully, you’re still here. I know. That was a lot of whining.
But here’s the point. When I actually wrote it all down, I was shocked by how much I’d been dealing with. It was okay that I was a mess. I let myself off the hook. I looked at myself with compassion. I felt proud of myself for being so strong. Success, peace, and happiness doesn’t come at the end of the struggle. It comes in each present moment that we show up, do our best, and love ourselves, regardless of the outcome.
We are all going through stuff. It’s okay if you are not okay.
I made the mistake of thinking that a positive attitude will keep me happy. It doesn’t work that way. Forcing yourself to be positive is not always what you need, when it makes you deny that you are struggling. Sometimes we have to take a good look at the struggle and give ourselves some compassion. An objective look at things will clear out some of the emotions and allow us to better manage things.
Some days will be wonderful, and some days will be terrible. That’s okay. That’s life. Do the best you can with what you have right now.
I’ve learned a lot over the past several days. I definitely haven’t figured out everything I need for this life, but there are two things I know for sure. Hopefully, they will help you.
- Life is a beautiful, chaotic, amazing journey. None of us know what tomorrow will hold. The only way to have a good life is to control what you can, let the rest go, and enjoy the ride.
- I don’t know if you believe in angels or a higher power, or whatever, but as for me, I know there is something that is bigger than me and also a part of me. It is made of Love and wants to protect me. It is always with me.
Whatever you are going through, for the next week, remind yourself that it’s okay to not be okay. Its okay if you cry. It’s okay if you feel weak or scared or ashamed. You don’t have to be strong every minute. Take a look at the situation, acknowledge that sometimes life is hard, and give yourself some Love and compassion.
Then stand up, dust yourself off. Say “Wow, that sucked,” and carry on.
Everything is going to be alright. You are learning. You are creative. You are beautiful.
You are not alone.
I Love you all.