Thursday, March 6, 2014

silent battles

I've mentioned in recent blog posts that life has been hard for me lately. Honestly, it's difficult to explain why it's been hard because it's a lot of things and it's a lot of mental things. It's dating, it's work, it's self-esteem, it's acne, it's growing up, it's not wanting to grow up, it's a whole lot of learning things about myself that I didn't realize before, it's failure, it's overcoming weaknesses and discovering new ones, it's healing, it's holding on to hope, it's letting go of things that need to be let go of... and that's just the beginning.

When someone is diagnosed with cancer, that challenge has a label. It's google-able and people have heard about it before. They may not understand what it's like to go through that trial, but it's something they've heard of before. When someone has cancer, you can post about that on Facebook and ask for help - and thank goodness for that! I'm grateful for the lives that have been blessed and the prayers that have been answered because we know how to ask for help when someone has cancer.

But that's the thing. Sometimes we have trials that aren't google-able. Sometimes there is no easy label for why life is hard. Or maybe it's something private that you don't actually want to talk about. I know some brave people who talk about their challenges with infertility. I think people who share their struggles with cancer are incredibly brave too. I also have learned that sometimes there are brave people fighting silent battles that they don't understand, can't label, or aren't really prepared to open up about. Sometimes there are battles that are so innately internal that you really can't tell people about them. And the more time I've spent thinking about this "silent battles" concept, the more I come to realize that a LOT of us are going through these times in life and maybe we don't know what to do.

I feel weird telling people that life is challenging right now and not being able to really fully explain why. I tell some close friends/family a little bit, but there are so many deep factors to why life is hard for me right now and I don't even understand half of them. So, hi, life is hard. I've got a whole lot going on inside of me and I've got no label to tell you why.

But I want people to know that my life is hard. I feel selfish just typing that. The phrase "misery loves company" comes to mind. But I think it's much more than that. Honestly, I think sometimes we need to cry out and say "Hey! You people that care about me! I am not sure I'm okay right now and I need help." Actually, I think we spend a lot of time crying out messages like that - I think our bodies know how to get that message out when we're not ready to admit it. I'm sure you've seen lists of "signs of depression". They're filled with things like fatigue, over eating, under eating, insomnia, over sleeping... you get the point.

I think the world has taught us one giant lie that needs to be torn to bits and destroyed forever. That lie is this: "Asking for help is not okay/means I'm weak." Perhaps it's phrased differently in each of our minds. Any way you say it, it's a lie. We were put here on earth with other compassionate humans for a reason. We can ask for help. We were born into family units with people who love and care deeply about us for a reason. We can ask for help. It's OKAY to not be okay. It's OKAY to let people know you have flaws. It's OKAY to need help.

I let myself do this thing where I say "I'm fine, it's okay, I've got this" for a long time until I'm crying in my car on the way home from work and it's all I can do to think of something I might be able to eat without feeling like I'm going to vomit. I'm learning that I'm allowed to ask for help before I reach this point of desperation. I can tell someone I'm struggling before the tears come. I'm allowed to get support from friends and family any time I want. I've learned that all you have to do is ask. People LOVE you. They want to support you and help you be okay. We're not here to work through all our challenges alone. It was never meant to be that way.

Ultimately, I've also been learning how to turn to the Savior. It's okay to need Him. It's okay to ask for divine help. In fact, we are promised "ask and ye shall receive". He wants to run to us, to succor us, to heal us and bless us. I think I re-learn how much I need to rely on the Savior almost every day. In my favorite Holland talk of the day, Elder Holland says "When He says to the poor in spirit, “Come unto me,” He means He knows the way out and He knows the way up. He knows it because He has walked it. He knows the way because He is the way." Up and out is exactly the way I feel like I need to go.



I also want you to know that I am okay. I have moments where I want to scream out and cry out and tell everyone that I'm not okay. Those are real. But I also have wonderful, blissful, joy-filled moments where I feel peace and I know that I am okay and that things are going to be okay and I know I'm on a beautiful path. I'm finding that there is a lot more joy in the struggle than I ever believed there could be. Slowly, I'm starting to realize that there is a lot to be learned from the hard times and even from making mistakes. I have to remind myself, but I think that deep down I actually do know that being vulnerable, taking chances, going off of gut feelings and moving forward (even moving forward feeling like you have little to no sense of direction) is a lot more like progress than staying safe in your comfort zone and not ever risking anything. And through all of the scary, vulnerable, not okay moments, it really is always going to be okay.
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