I really need to get better at keeping up with my blog! For some reason consistency has always been my issue when it comes to blogging. Oh well... better late than never I guess haha.
I've had this particular post floating around in my head for a couple of weeks now. But even still, as I'm writing, I have no idea where I am going to go with it... I guess I'll just start by stating the obvious. Life can be hard sometimes. It's so interesting to me how there are moments after going through a hard time, it's like, 'Oh yeah! I got this! That wasn't really that hard after all!' But then when another rough phase of life comes along, it can feel just as deflating as it did the first time. So where is the balance? How do we keep that perspective we gained after going through hard things the first time and allow it to help us through future rough times?
That's something I am still trying to figure out myself. But there are definitely a few things I've learned that I've wanted to share.
1. to embrace the storm & just ride the wave
I first learned this through my own challenges with anxiety and depression. Primarily starting shortly after I graduated high school, those struggles would differ in levels of severity at different points in my life. I remember during, what I recall, as my worst phase with anxiety; I was having regular panic attacks and it was taking control of my life. I decided it was time to see a counselor, and something she said really struck me. I knew my panic attacks would happen out of fear of having the panic attack itself, which was really frustrating because it felt like a never ending cycle. But the counselor told me to imagine standing on a beach by the ocean. She then said to imagine that a wave was about to crash over me. She said that it was like putting my hands out and yelling at the wave to stop, even though inevitably it was going to crash over me. Then, she asked me what would happen if I just let the panic attacks happen. I paused and with tears and emotion in my eyes, felt frustrated. That imagery has stuck with me through the years and seems to apply to a lot more than just panic attacks. There are some things in life that happen to us, or happen as consequences because of our actions, and emotions that we naturally feel as things happen. I've found that for me, the most healthy thing to do is look at it for what it is, accept it, and then just roll with the wave knowing it will pass or I will become strong enough to learn to ride it.
Now. Fast forward to a different counselor for a different phase of life. There was something she said that really just blew my mind. She told me that sometimes when we go through really difficult things, it's easy to try and suppress how we feel about it. She related it to a hose, saying we have a tendency to kink the hose in an effort to stop the water from coming out. But eventually, the water is going to get so backed up that it will unkink itself and then start spewing all over the place. It's better to just let the water flow as it's supposed to, slowly, a little at a time and as it comes. We need to let ourselves feel what we are feeling and not be afraid of it.
2. The Good and the Bad
This leads me to my next thing. I've learned that I have a tendency to want to label periods of time in my life as good or bad. For example, if I'm feeling sad, then that means life is bad. But it doesn't have to be that way. And I think sometimes that's what causes me to want to 'kink the hose'. Maybe it's the fear of being sad, mad, afraid, or whatever it is, and that it could be defining. But our emotions don't define us. They are a natural progression and part of life. It's like another analogy I learned. A child can be sad and angry, throwing a tantrum one minute and then happy and giggling the next. They just let it flow. I am slowly learning to allow myself to have days where if I'm sad, to just let myself be sad and know that the next moment it's okay to feel better. To just let it be rather than get frustrated over how I'm feeling, because our emotions are constantly changing. It's a good thing to have a full range of emotions.
3. you'll be so surprised at yourself and what you can endure
When going through extremely difficult times, it's so easy to want to give up. I know. I've been there. Last year was one of the most difficult years for me. I often explain it to people as me being like the living dead. There were multiple contributing factors to my feeling this way, some of which included my already being prone to anxiety and depression and a chronic sleep disorder, amongst other things. Bottom line... for me and my human capacity at that time, the cards seemed to all be stacked up against me. It felt like there was not even a glimmer of hope. I had never felt so low.
There was a time in particular where I just felt completely defeated. I don't remember what happened or what the final factor was in my feeling this way on this particular day. But I remember feeling like I just. could. not. anymore. I remember walking through the downstairs hallway of our home, crowded with stuff that needed to be put away, and not being able to even think. I just didn't know what to do. I walked into my office which had become a literal laundry room due to the amount of piles of laundry that had been thrown in there, and shutting the door, locking it behind me, because I just needed to breathe and be alone. The room was completely cluttered with mounds of laundry. I sat down on a soft chair, (on top of one of those mounds), got my phone out and started playing the song "The Storm" by Lighthouse. I let myself be completely and entirely consumed by the lyrics while I sat there, listening to it for what felt like a couple of hours, over and over again while I sobbed. Hoping and praying to see a glimmer of light in the midst of this storm I was currently in.
Phew, not going to lie, the thought of hitting publish on that last paragraph is kind of scary. It's a lot. It was a lot. And it doesn't paint a pretty picture of me at the time. But that's just how it was. However, I feel like I need to share that piece of it to get the full contrast it deserves. Now we are fast forwarding to a few weeks ago, what would have been just about a year after that dark summer. I was driving home after dropping my kids off at school. As usual around here, it was beautiful outside. The song "The Storm" came on my shuffle, taking me completely by surprise. It immediately took me back to that weighed down state I was in a year before. But just as quickly as the memory came, it turned my attention to the fact that I was so happy. So genuinely happy. No, things weren't, (aren't), perfect, but I was alert, I was functioning, content, happy, and alive in every sense of the word. I know it sounds cliche, but that girl sitting on top of the pile of laundry on the soft chair, sobbing and praying for any glimmer of hope, would not have believed it if you told her where she would be a year later.
I've been in tough spots before in my life. But nothing compares to the contrast of where I was a year ago and were I am today. That in and of itself has taught me something about these storms of life. When we are in the midst of our storm, it can completely feel like there is no way out. Or no easy way out. And for most it may be, that there isn't an easy way. And when we are already susceptible to feeling weak because of the spot we are in, taking the hard way to get out can seem daunting. However, with the help of our Savior, we will be amazed at the strength we are given and the things we are able to endure. If we allow Him into our lives, even when we are ready to give up, He will help us through and out of our storms. It's like the song says, He didn't bring us out here to drown. Everything is going to be alright.