Sometimes it’s hard to follow your heart.
But tears don’t mean you’re losing, everybody’s bruising,
There’s nothing wrong with who you are…” Jessie J
Life can be so hard sometimes.
Our obligations battle our desires. Our bills battle our dreams. Our hearts battle our heads.
Our striving to do more, to keep up, to achieve as much as possible battles our quest for inner peace and self-acceptance.
And when we feel complicated emotions like anger, frustration, loneliness, sadness, fear, rejection, loss, we have to choose between trying to stifle those feelings or sitting with them, uncomfortably.
Our battles aren’t just internal. We turn on the news and the world seems to be falling apart. Feelings of hopelessness, shock and despair constantly fall over us.
We question ourselves. Are we doing enough? Are we contributing? Are we happy enough? Are we living life to the best of our ability? Are we broken if we experience too much sadness?
Sometimes the more we try to answer these questions, the more we lose ourselves. And when life throws extra curve balls like tragedy, illness or loss, it can all just feel like too much…
Know That It’s Okay to Fall Apart
The other day I was not okay.
I was worn down and desperately needing alone time to recharge away from all the duties, demands and dishes of mamahood. I was also nervously waiting to find out if my beloved aging dog is suffering from kidney failure, and what the implications of that would be. The thought of it was wearing on me, heavily.
After rushing my kids up our hill to the car, because of course we were running late, I realized my two-year old had stolen my car keys out of my purse and hidden them somewhere back at home. It was the tiniest thing, but it felt like the biggest defeat.
Sometimes when we’re standing strong through tough storms for too long, it’s the lightest feather that finally knocks us over.
I wanted to break down, and so I did. We went back home, I stepped away and I cried in private. Because I needed to. Because I had to. Because in that moment life was feeling so hard and the only way I could move forward was to feel it all.
When we’re on the verge of falling apart, that’s often exactly what we need to do. We need to feel it all so we can heal and emerge stronger. We must break down so we can rebuild. We need to take a break from judging ourselves and just let our emotions run their course.
Because life is beautiful but it is hard. And sometimes it really is okay to not be okay.
And in these moments, the biggest mistake we can make is trying to force happiness upon ourselves when we’re not ready for it. We need to love and accept ourselves in our weakest moments as strongly as we love and accept ourselves in our strengths.
And in learning how to love ourselves in our weakness we can find our way back to happiness once again, stronger and sturdier than we were before.
Remember That Less Is More
I went to a funeral last week. A good friend’s father passed away. A friend I’ve had since kindergarten.
I watched my brave friend and her sister give dynamic and emotional eulogies honoring their father. I had so many memories of him myself.
I worried I’d never find the right words of comfort for my friend, so I just showed up and prayed that would be enough.
A few days later she told me how supported she felt. Just seeing her old friends there. Watching us as she shared her memories. Our mere presence gave her the strength she needed. Our act of showing up and bearing witness to her loss lifted her more than any words of comfort could have.
When life is at its hardest, it helps to remember that less is more. A long hug, a cup of tea, a private moment to let yourself feel it all free of shame and judgement, a simple moment of pause.
Just showing up… for the ones we love, for ourselves. Not demanding perfection, just presence and acceptance. Allowing ourselves to hurt and not rushing or shoving the hurt away. Simply surrendering to it, bearing witness to it, and letting it break us down so that we can rebuild with an even stronger foundation.
One day at a time. One minute at a time. One healing thought at a time.
When life gets hard we don’t need to have all the answers, all the right words or all the solutions, we just need honor all that each moment is asking of us.
Walk with Compassion
As I walked in the rain Tuesday morning with my dog, still waiting for his test results, I couldn’t take my eyes off him.
He was walking so much slower than normal, his tail tucked between his legs. My tears mixed with the rain as a deep sadness fell over me. My constant companion for over ten years who never leaves my side, my shadow. Did I do enough for him?
I worried I should have brought him for testing sooner. I worried that maybe life for him has been hard with two toddlers at home, despite how loving and gentle he is with them. I worried that whatever he is suffering from is all my fault.
But as he nuzzled against me, so sweetly as he always does, I was reminded that I need to be as compassionate with myself as I am with him.
I must love, not betray, myself through my pain.
Your Struggles Are an Invitation
“What if pain — like love — is just a place brave people visit.” Glennon Doyle Melton
Author Glennon Doyle Melton describes pain as an invitation in her book Love Warrior. She explains that we must run toward our pain, not away from it, to learn the lessons we’re meant to learn.
Her words ring so true to me as every good thing I have and strive for in life was once seeded in pain.
Each struggle, each loss, each tragedy, each horrific news story is an invitation.
An invitation to break down and rebuild stronger than we were before. An invitation to feel deeply and learn the lessons our souls long for. An invitation to use the marks those lessons leave on our hearts to help heal and empower those around us. An invitation to learn more and more about what it means to love.
We cannot avoid pain, it is all around us. And sometimes we will buckle under its pressure or get knocked over by something as light as a feather. But the more we sit with our pain and learn from it the stronger we will be.
So when life gets really hard, know that you’re not alone. We all feel it. We are all bearing witness to it.
And with enough compassion and patience, we can get through anything.
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