Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Accepting YOUR Struggle

Recently a blogger friend I follow posted about her struggles with anxiety and depression.  We've been internet friends for several years now, so I talk with her the same way I'd talk to any of my in-person/real life friends.  The difference is, it's less actual speech and more written communication via blog comments and millionty year long email chains that I love.  Many things she has written have touched me and I love being able to discuss things back and forth with her.

After a description of a struggle she was going through, she wrote,
"To be clear...I am still fairly blessed/privileged/etc." 

My heart immediately hurt for my friend.  Not only because she was struggling with anxiety and depression, but because sooo many of us are taught to discount our struggles because they are "less than" someone else's struggle.  I say that as a confident we, as I am a part of that group.  For many, mannnnnnnnyyyy years... until very recently, in fact, I constantly discounted my struggles because they were "less than" the struggles of someone else.

Well, this sucks, but at least I'm not starving!
Well, this sucks, but at least I'm not homeless!

Well, this sucks, but at least I can pay this medical/dental/utility bill!
Well, this sucks, but at least I don't have (incurable) cancer!
Well, this sucks, but at least I don't have people beating my door down asking me to borrow money! (ya know, in the case that I was a millionaire or something)

Let me put that into focus for you...

Well, this sucks, but at least I'm not alone. (for anyone ever in a shitty relationship)
Well, this sucks, but it won't kill me. (for anyone who has ever run on broke/sore pieces)

Well, this sucks, but at least I _________________.  Fill in the blank, I know you can.

For me, this "defense" came so naturally to me.  I knew I was blessed and I had/have sooooooo much to be grateful for, so my struggles obviously didn't compare to the struggles of those less fortunate than me.


 It's not about comparing struggles.
It's about overcoming struggles.

On my friend's post I commented,
"While I appreciate your gratitude and acknowledgement of blessings, this is my reminder that your struggles should not be discounted because they are "less" or "more" than the struggles of someone else. Your struggle is your struggle. That is ok."

It took me over 30 years (I guess some of those years probably don't really count) to fully understand what the saying "Comparison is the thief of joy" actually meant.  The saying doesn't just reference the good things, but also the bad.

Let me spell that out for you, 
it can mean that comparing your struggles with other people's struggles will NOT bring you joy.

For me to tell myself that my struggles weren't as bad as an infinite number of possibilities, I was:

1.  Discounting my struggles.

Just because I make more or less money than someone else doesn't mean that my problem is invalid.  Just because I am or am not a parent doesn't mean that my problem is invalid.  Fill in your own comparison, but it still won't be valid.  The comparison will instead show that my problem is different.

2.  I wasn't dealing with my struggles.

I wasn't dealing with my problems effectively because I wasn't giving them the attention that I NEEDED to give them to actually SOLVE the problem, which caused me to constantly MITIGATE problems.. and they would inevitably return at an even more inopportune time.

3.  My struggles may look like someone else's struggles, but they are not the same.

Obviously, my struggles are not the same as everyone else's.  Because none of us are the same person.  Sure, many of us may have dealt with the same thing, but is it really the same?  Are the circumstances exactly the same?  No.  Yes, the situation is the same, but I'm bringing a whole different set of Me-ness to the table.  This makes a difference.

I'm really bad to whine about a problem, but I've had to learn to tell the difference between me actually whining, or me whining about actual problems.  It took me realizing that I was handling a LOT of shit and not handling it well at all to realize I actually needed help.

Not that it's the job of anyone else, but no one else ever pointed out the fact, that I wasn't handling things well, to me.  But I'm a master of "being in control" on the surface, so why would they?  I continued to deceive everyone with my "strong, independent woman" act.

To admit I was struggling, to let that image of the "strong, independent woman" go was the biggest relief for me.  It was a relief to tell them I was NOT ok, I was NOT in control and that things were actually NOT going well.  It was a relief to be honest.  Once I realized it, I wanted everyone else to know, to call myself out for lying to everyone.  I wanted to shake my fist at society for my ingrained behaviors that I discover and have to battle with.

I feel like we are so trained to just be pleasant and appeasing that it is super difficult to be honest with other people, which leads to even more difficulty about being honest with ourselves.  Because, of course, if I can make everyone else believe I'm fine, I WILL eventually be fine.  Here's the important part, so perk up and pay attention.

Eventually is NOT soon enough.  

Maybe that was my biggest take away from my struggle with my struggles.
Eventually is NOT soon enough for taking care of yourself.  

Comparing my struggles to those of others meant I wasn't taking care of myself or my problems, which would only lead to more problems.

I almost started this post out by discounting what I was about to say with a disclaimer about how I'm not a professional or a counselor or anything.. and then I realized that type of narrative was exactly the reason I am in the position to begin with.  The idea of discounting myself that I am not enough.

Just a reminder:
(because I need it and so do you)


  1. I love this so so much. I have had anxiety issues for probably close to forever but I never really dealt with them. It was always the "yeah but at least" or I would just try to find ways to distract myself. I just now finally started talking to someone in hopes of actually working those issues out & not having to just distract myself or tell myself but it could be worse.

  2. Yeeeeeeeeeeeeessssssssssssssssssss!!!

    I asked Hubs if he could tell a difference since I have been on my meds for a few weeks now, and his answer was a very definitive "No." He said it literally felt like NO DIFFERENCE, because everything I was dealing with had been kept 100% internal. On the surface, no one had a friggin' clue. But when I finally told them all the thoughts I had been having and physical symptoms, they were quick to identify it as not normal.

    Your #2 is exactly what happened to me. I thought "Well, as long as I am still managing to juggle XYZ I just have to do that and keep going." But I wasn't dealing with my issues...because I couldn't deal with them head-on AND continue to do it everything I just did everything else. Until I couldn't, which resulted in a huge hot mess.

  3. love this. i am guilty of it, i think also because i use it as a coping mechanism, like this sucks but it could be worse, so stay positive.. but like you said, then you're not really dealing with your own struggle. it's like we are putting it off until it's the worst it can possibly be.


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