Friday, November 4, 2011
You Are Not the Only One
I originally wrote most of this post on Tuesday. I know it sounds like a lame excuse, but my two year old deleted it. He hit the “power off” button on the computer while I was trying to write, and much of it was lost. I took his not-so-subtle hint that he needed attention, and put the writing aside for a few days.
I have been fairly inconsistent with blogging since returning from maternity leave, and it bugs me. In my mind, I should be able to get a blog written every week, just like I should be able to successfully do the rest of my job as a psychologist, maintain meaningful relationships with my husband, family, and friends, and keep my house clean and in order. I should be able to do all of this while doing my very best to lovingly raise two young children. To be completely honest, every week something slips, and sometimes a lot of things slip. I am doing my best, but there is a lot going on.
Most of us have a lot going on. Most of us are juggling multiple roles and competing demands on our lives. There is work, relationships, household and family tasks. There are calls to make, bills to pay, and dinners to prepare. We want to grow spiritually, we want to nourish our relationships, we want to nurture those we love. Add to that any “big” life stressors, like illness or death in the family, marital problems, mental health issues, or financial problems. It’s a lot, and sometimes it is overwhelming and hard.
But most people walk through life thinking that it is just them. We think that everyone else is managing fine, but we are struggling. We think everyone else is “all set,” but we are barely hanging on. We think that everyone else has floors that are swept, extra money in the bank, and children sleeping peacefully by 7 p.m.
The truth is that everyone has their struggles. Everyone has their pain. It is not always easy for anyone. We may have different priorities, different things that we let slip. We may have different ways of managing the struggle, different ways we handle the hard times. But everyone has their struggle.
And one of the hardest parts of any struggle is feeling alone in it.
So let’s stop. Let’s stop perpetuating the idea that we have it all together. Let’s allow safe people into our lives, into the messy and unswept corners. Let’s confess that our children seem to fight constantly or that we’re barely managing to find time and space to connect with our spouse. Let’s be honest about struggles with anger, depression, or anxiety. Remember, it’s not about a competition to be won or lost. It’s about acknowledging that we’re in it together. Let’s show up in our relationships and be real with our hearts.
I’ve heard it said that some of the most powerful words in any language are “me too,” and I believe that to be true. You and I may not be struggling with the same thing, but we both know what it is like to struggle. By sharing our struggles, we offer a genuine “me too.” We say, “I’m not perfect, and I don’t expect you to be either.” We tell each other that we are not alone. And that is one of the greatest gifts we can offer.
So today, the blog is getting written. I hope that I will be able to write it next week too. I also hope that when my in-laws come over later they will graciously ignore the dust-bunnies the size of my daughter. I am doing my best to stop pretending it is easy when it is not, to stop pretending like I can do it all when I know I cannot. I am working to let people into the good and the hard, the messy and the neat. Will you try too?