The Purpose of Struggle Featured
I seriously believe I just had a major breakthrough, and I need to write it down before it escapes the loose clutches of my brain... as it usually does. I've never experienced this particular train of thought before; but whenever one of these revelations happens, I am usually too busy to write it down. This morning, I was just lying in bed thinking, 'It's Sunday. I have tomorrow off (holiday). I have another day to take care of any pressing responsibilities this weekend. Go make coffee and get back into bed. Yay, me!'
I was scrolling through Facebook, and came across a post from a life coach I discovered a few weeks ago. She talks about claiming your "badass personna" and getting rid of your "victim, survivor mentality". Well... I happened to identify with that. Here's where my mind jetted off to after only reading snippets of her post.
I have been in survivor mode for... ever; even before I got married and had almost half a dozen kids. I've always identified with the victim side of my personality. I have been a victim of domestic violence. I was a victim of emotional abuse. I am currently a victim of financial stress. I am always fighting hard against something... or not.
At one point within the past... 15 years, I sunk into a deep depression for a few years. It happened when my kids were little, and we had so much going on in our lives that barely anyone even noticed. My husband did. He tried to help, but was not really equipped (emotionally) to do so. He quietly resigned to just picking up my slack whenever he could break free from his self-imposed, work-a-holic lifestyle. I had no desire to spend time with my kids; so he would take them sledding or to church events, and help them deliver their paper routes all over town; while I sat at home trying to figure out what to do with myself, staring at the wall, or doing mindless chores like dishes or laundry.
As I write this, I feel like such a hypocrite! One of the things that I struggled with most in my life then was the fact that we hid who we really were... from everyone! The picture perfect family that everyone loved, admired, and adored outside of our four walls, was totally different on the inside. Here I was... selfishly depressed, not reaching out for help, not able to. I know it wasn't my fault... now. But, back then, all I could feel was guilt, shame.
I had friends. I had family. Would I turn to any of them? Reach out? Nope. Couldn't. I had my image to protect. We were "super family". We had our s*#t together. I remember a comment someone made once regarding her son's perception of our family dynamic. He said he hoped he could have what we had someday. He wanted "that kind of family". I cringed inside when she said that. My thoughts: 'if he only knew".
Oh, I don't mean to be so negative in my recollection. There were good times; and I have a lot of good memories with my kids growing up. They will tell you the same thing. But let's also be realistic. No family is as picture perfect as they may seem. I can see you nodding in agreement. They will agree with that too. This is just a snapshot of one moment in my life. It's where my mind went to find a good talking point for this post.
I want to stop here for a moment to reassure you that I am so very, very proud of who my kids turned out to be, in spite of the struggles we faced as a growing family. If anything, I believe the ups and downs of our daily lives reinforce our strengths, help shape our coping skills. My kids have grown into capable, resilient adults. Strong. They lead productive, meaningful lives. They support each other unconditionally. That has always been my goal (I always wanted a big family) - that they would be close. I feel like I've succeeded in that respect.
You've all seen that meme on Facebook, right? The one that says, "Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always." Well, through my (very personal) posts here on my website, that is my aim. Not only to always be kind, but maybe even help someone to realize they are not alone in their struggles. What I learned so many years ago, during that awful time of depression, was that you can be surrounded by gobs of people, even many who genuinely care for your well-being, but you can feel so lonely, isolated. You cannot sincerely believe that anyone wants to help, or even cares. BUT, what I now realize is that they do. Because I do. I care. I understand - because of my own personal experiences. I've been there, done that.
I have always strongly ascribed to the belief that God did not put me on this earth to be miserable. I have a purpose. He put me here for a reason. I've questioned what that reason could possibly be for most of my life. And I am not claiming to finally have an answer, but... I have to believe it has something to do with this - the fact that I've been through all this stuff. Why? What is the reason? What am I supposed to do with these experiences? Wallow in grief, self-pity? I am SURE that is not it!
I've learned a few things about me recently; and it's a good thing, because I have been focusing intently on finding that elusive purpose. I am outgoing. I like to write. I want to help people. I have a LOT of personal experiences to draw from. I want to turn the negatives into positives. I'm objective. A friend of mine told me this week, after I said I would tell her about this bad thing I went through if it would cheer her up about her situation; 'That's just like you - turning it around for someone else's benefit!' (paraphrase) I took it as a compliment.
So, here's my point. Admittedly, my posts on this site are usually very personal. The reason has become crystal clear to me now. While they leave me wide-open, vulnerable... my struggles, openly-confessed, might help someone else to realize they are not alone. Isolation is not required. You don't have to be an island in trying to figure out your life. Reach out to your friends, family, or even professional counselors, therapists. There is no shame in talking to someone about your problems. Truth be known, there are people out there that really do care!
This is not a totally selfless venture on my part. I get a benefit from publishing my innermost thoughts here - or at least from writing them down. It's my therapy. Here is an excerpt from my journal, word-for-word:
Dec. 19, 2017
So, so much on my mind today. So many different emotions, I almost don't know where to start. Serves me right. Haven't taken the time to sit down and spill my feelings out onto the page for a few days. Yes, I've had a lot going on, but that's no excuse. I can't keep everything bottled up inside. I've learned that about me recently. Actually, I've always known it, I think. I can only ignore it for so long. If I'm not careful, it gets clogged up in my heart and has to let loose all at once, like a dam bursting. That gets very messy, and sometimes people get hurt. Simple, preventative measures, letting it spill over the edge slowly, a little at a time, only releasing the valve occasionally - helps. Just put the words on the page, Tammy. You don't even have to read them again. It makes you feel better instantly... relieving the pressure like that.
So, you see? Mutually beneficial, right?
Ok, I'm not suggesting that you should write, if that's not your thing. But, find an outlet. Talk to someone. Run. Read a good book. Get a massage. Go skydiving! Do something that not only takes your mind off the actual problem, but gives you a break from the harsh realities of life that you are so often dealt. Point is... take some time to figure out how to release all the negative. Don't let it take over. If you can't think of anything, come here to my blog. I have no shortage of crises in my life to write about. Maybe you'll identify with something. ;)
Thanks for reading my rambling thoughts. I hope it helped. I know I feel better. :D