We all have those places in life.
Places we can transport ourselves back to in an instant because they are so deeply woven into the fabric of our souls.
We remember every detail about those places.
We remember the colors of every wall.
We remember the sound of the antique radio playing music every Saturday morning.
We remember hanging upside down off the chair in the corner and watching everyone’s feet on the ceiling.
We remember the crisp snap of peas and the roughness of corn husks as we prepped the Sunday dinner.
We remember how many steps it was from the living room to our bedroom.
We remember how that big tree in the front yard cast a long shadow every afternoon.
We remember the closets filled with fancy dress shoes and the bureaus filled with makeup.
We remember how every spring a family of groundhogs would take up residency under the porch.
We remember the peacefulness and stillness of the fresh air at night.
We remember everything about those places.
Because those places are a part of us.
Those places were our foundation.
We remember how it felt to feel loved in that place.
We remember how it felt to be seen, really seen whenever we were at our place.
We remember how it felt to know we were safe and cared for there.
We remember because that is where the happy moments of our childhood lived.
We remember, and with aching hearts, we miss it.
We’d give anything to walk in that front door again.
We’d do anything to sit around that kitchen table one more time.
We’d trade anything to go back in time and relive just one day in that place.
But our places don’t always stay the same.
Blue houses turn yellow.
Trees get replaced by open spaces.
Open spaces get filled in with new houses.
People leave us.
And those places that once belonged to us someday belong to other people.
But they are still OUR places - stored forever in our memories and in our hearts.
And no matter how hard this life gets, we can always close our eyes and imagine ourself back in that place.
It will always be our place.
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I’m going to let you in on a little secret about change.
Walking away from the things and people that drain your energy is one of the hardest things you can do.
Even if that person or thing leaves you bruised and broken over and over again, making the decision to leave it behind and step towards a life that is more authentically you, is terrifying.
Like leaves your palms sweaty, gives you a pit in your stomach, and sends your heart racing - terrifying.
You begin to worry about all the people that won’t understand.
You start a repetitive loop of all the “what if” scenarios.
You decide that it’s just not worth it - change would be too hard.
But, sweet reader, I promise you it IS worth it.
All of the pain and fear and hard work of walking away from the life you know and walking towards the life you deserve is worth it.
I hope that someday you find the courage to take the first step away from the hurt and turn your gaze to the horizon of possibility.
A beautiful horizon of possibility - that’s what exists for you once you decide to take your future and your happiness into your own hands and go after the things you want.
I promise you that there will be moments where you doubt your decision. There will be moments where you start to turn back towards the pain because the devil you know is greater than the devil you don’t know right?
Remember this - there’s only one way to find out.
You owe it to yourself in those moments to keep moving forward.
Keep moving towards your goals and away from the painful past.
Even when it’s hard. Even when it feels uncertain.
And someday, hopefully in the not too distant future, you will take a deep breath in for just a moment and catch a glimpse of the life you used to know, a glimpse of the shell of the person you used to be, and you will smile.
You will smile and notice that your heart is light, you are surrounded by true support, and you are on the right path - all because you believed you were worthy and took that first step towards change and possibility.
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Today was one of those days.
You know what I mean when I say "those days" because we all have them.
Those days are the worst.
Today was filled with dogs who found some sort of exciting thing in our fenced-in backyard and did not want to come inside, leaving me schlepping around my backyard in my pjs with a container of deli meat trying to reason with an 8 year old stubborn pup.
Today was filled with ransacking the laundry room to find the game jersey that had to be worn to school today - only to realize that it had been left in the other parent's vehicle and was nowhere near us.
Today was filled with my freshly washed favorite post-workout hoodie smelling like old cooked food when I pulled it out of my bag, rendering it useless.
Today was filled with finding evidence of mice in my kitchen as I was rushing to prepare a birthday cake.
Today was filled with yet another Facebook Marketplace buyer backing out last minute.
Today was filled with still not knowing what time my son's practice is ending today and scrambling to arrange a pick up that would not interfere with our work schedules.
All of this was before 10am.
Naturally I felt all of the feelings.
I wanted to scream into my pillow. I wanted to cry out of frustsration. I wanted to send angry messages. I wanted to cancel my patients and crawl back into bed.
But, instead, I took 3 deep breaths and considered how I could reframe my morning.
Sure, my morning was filled with all of the things that make up one of "those days."
But, it was also filled with so much more.
It was filled with trashcans already at the curb, placed there lovingly by my husband before he left for work.
It was filled with an adventurous pup who just a few months ago had a cancer diagnosis and might not have been here right now were it not for his great doctor.
It was filled with the knowledge that tomorrow we get to celebrate a birthday with my favorite people in the whole world - people who love my boys with all their heart.
It was filled with back to back appointments with patients who show up regularly for their therapy appointments and commit to the hard work of self discovery and growth.
It was filled with reassuring phone calls from my husband with a plan for our new little mice friends.
It was filled with check-ins from good friends who make it a point to just reach out and say hi.
For all the annoying parts that made this morning one of “those days,” there were even more parts that made it a good day.
Listen, I’m not someone who believes in “choosing happiness” or not allowing yourself to feel the crappy feelings.
When you have a morning like I did today, it’s completely normal and acceptable to feel all the feelings about it.
But then we have to look for the good parts.
Even if they are hard to find.
Even if there aren’t a lot of them.
I promise there are always some good parts. There is always some glimmer of hope to hold on to.
Let those good parts be what defines your day, not the other things.
So, yes, today was one of “those days” - those days where lots of stuff went wrong.
But it was also one of “those days” - those days where I get to count my blessings and lean in to all the glimmers of hope.
“You’re one of the strongest moms I know. If you can’t do it, I can’t either.”
My friend’s words jumped out of the text at me, hitting me right in the gut. That negative voice in my head, always lurking just beneath the surface, was quick to question her view of me.
How could it be that someone sees me as strong when lately all I feel is weak, a growing sense that I am a failure, and the notion that I am shrinking away from everyone?
How could it be that despite the fog of depression and anxiety that has lately filled my head once again, I could appear to have it all together to others?
How could it be that my outward projection is such a contradiction to my inner thoughts about myself?
Which view of me is the correct one? Her view or my own?
“I always think of you when I am in a bad spot and wonder what you would do.”
This time her words hit me even deeper. They cut through the nonsense in my head and brought some clarity to me.
She had no way of knowing my inner struggles, but something I was doing or saying was acting as a lifeline for her. Somehow, despite nearly drowning in my own despair, I was serving as a beacon of hope for her at times.
Maybe, just maybe, that voice in my head was wrong.
Maybe, just maybe, I could find a way to be that beacon of hope for myself.
Her words echoed in my head that night and kept me awake for hours as I reflected more and more about what it meant to be a source of hope for someone.
I realized that I can’t give up. None of us can.
We have no idea who is watching us, who is holding on to their last thread of hope thinking, If she can’t do it, neither can I.
We have no idea who is wondering what we would do if we were in their shoes, using us and our experiences to help guide them through their troubles.
Look around. Someone somewhere is watching you, desperately looking for signs of hope and a sense of guidance. Maybe it’s one of your closest friends, a family member, a neighbor, a mom who sees you in the drop-off line at school, a coworker, an online friend, a stranger at the grocery store, someone reading your words—it doesn’t matter who it is, but they need you to keep going, to keep fighting, to keep believing in yourself.
If you can’t do it, they can’t either.
Originally published 11/27/20 on Her View From Home: https://herviewfromhome.com/dear-mama-you-are-stronger-than-you-think/
There are times in everyone’s lives when the bad stuff hits.
Sometimes the bad stuff hits all at once. Sometimes the bad stuff hits gradually over time. Sometimes the hits are so bad that you don’t feel like getting out of bed, leaving your house, or answering your phone. Sometimes the bad stuff makes you turn inward. Sometimes it makes you implode on yourself. Sometimes it makes you explode on others. No matter how you react to the bad stuff, one thing is shared — the bad stuff exists for all of us at some point in our lives.
As I have been reflecting on our shared experiences with the bad stuff lately, I have been considering them within the context of this time of year. Spring is almost here and with it comes a collective shift of our focus to the future. This is a time of reflection and goal setting. At times like these, I always turn towards inspirational quotes to keep me grounded in reality while also striving towards my goals.
This, one of my favorite quotes from Theodore Roosevelt, made it’s way into my social media
feed the other day.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.― Theodore Roosevelt
For me, this quote is about being your best, striving for greatness, and setting up the best future possible for yourself, knowing that it will take fight, courage and, sometimes, even failure. But, really the quote is so much more. It is a quote filled with questions:
The reality is, though, it truly doesn’t really matter whether you succeed or fail. What matters is that you are out there — you are in the arena. You are trying. You are doing. You are living. And, until we know failure, loss and sacrifice, we cannot truly appreciate the sweetness of success and all the beauty life has to offer us.
So, to the person in the arena, with the face marred by “dust and sweat and blood,” look around. If you take a moment to pause your battle and take stock of where you are right now, you will see that you are not alone. There are lots of us in the same arena and while we all are fighting versions of our own battles, our own bad stuff, some of us are here to help fight each other’s battles as well. This arena can be a scary, dangerous place but it isn’t a vast empty space.
The arena isn’t a space in which we all fight our own battles; instead, the arena is a place where we can gain strength from each other and from knowing that we are not alone. Reach out to those around you in your arena right now and let them help you fight your battles and your bad stuff.
The real living in life, after all, takes place in that space between failure and success. It takes place in the arena.
You know those days that just don’t go right?
Days where you sleep later than you planned.
Days where you can’t outrun the dark cloud following you around.
Days where you spill your entire protein shake and then your giant glass of water all over your rug 4 minutes before a work meeting.
Days where you stub your toe while rushing down the hallway.
Days where you accidentally forget to pay a bill, return an important call, or miss a text message.
Days where the brand new rug cleaner stops working.
Days where everything annoys you and nothing feels right.
Sometimes you can reframe it all.
Sometimes you can laugh it off.
Sometimes you can take a deep breath and reset.
Sometimes you just can’t.
Sometimes some days are just not meant to be great or even good days.
On those days, pour yourself a hot cup of tea (be careful you don’t spill it on yourself), soak in a hot bath, or leaf through a light and airy magazine.
Give yourself a break and cut yourself some slack.
Then go to bed.
Trust that tomorrow is a new day.
You can try it all again tomorrow.
I know I will.
My therapy sessions with my patients have grown heavy once again — especially for my patients that work in healthcare.
Day after day they share, with tear filled eyes, their overwhelming fatigue. They stare blankly ahead at the telehealth screen as they describe lying awake night after night, too exhausted and overwhelmed to find sleep.
Each patient and their story is different but the common theme is the same — burnout.
Complete and total burnout.
So many question their career choice — for many of them have felt failed by their employers.
So many question their own humanity — for they now dread going to work and being around people.
So many question their future — for the passion that they once felt for their work is now nowhere to be found.
Like so many of us they are crawling, bruised and broken, toward some nebulous finish line on the horizon.
Sometimes as we near the end of a session, they will stop me and ask me if I am doing ok.
“How are YOU managing it all?”
They are caregivers by nature and struggle to keep the focus on themselves-even during their own therapy session.
But I think they are mostly looking for signs of hope.
Hope is what is missing most now.
Hope is what is needed most now.
In times of great sorrow, loss, and tragedy it is hope that keeps us tethered to our life and to each other.
Hope that something and someone can be consistent.
Hope for brighter days.
Hope for rest.
Hope for passions to be reborn.
Hope to enjoy the world again.
Hope to make it to tomorrow.
As you crawl toward the finish line right now, find hope.
Find it anywhere you can.
And hold onto it.
Sometimes you will be too much for people.
Sometimes you won’t be enough.
Sometimes they will find you too sensitive
Sometimes they’ll say you are too insensitive.
Sometimes you will make decisions that hurt others.
Sometimes the decisions of others will hurt you.
Sometimes you will be lonely.
Sometimes you will wish for solitude.
Sometimes you will feel like all eyes are on you.
Sometimes you will feel invisible.
Sometimes the people you need to cheer you on won’t be there.
Sometimes people around you will shout things that aren’t true.
Sometimes you will feel too focused on a goal.
Sometimes you will feel lost and directionless.
Sometimes you will lie awake at night unable to find sleep.
Sometimes you will crawl under the covers, afraid to face the world.
Not all the time.
Sometimes you will feel valued, seen, and appreciated, despite your flawed parts.
Sometimes you will find your confidence, support, and direction.
Sometimes you will be at peace and rest easily at night.
Through all the sometimes, there will be constants to hold on to.
Your life has meaning.
You are not alone.
Tomorrow is always a new day.
Sometimes you just need to hold on.
An important moment happened the other night.
It was just a brief moment, so brief that many people may not have even noticed it.
It was a moment that was so easily eclipsed by the other moments around it that I almost didn’t even write about it.
But just today alone two people have brought the moment up in session. Yes, we need to shine some light on the moment. We need to amplify the moment.
It was a moment when a father from a generation not known for understanding mental health talked openly, candidly, emotionally, with rawness, and with true humanity about addiction.
Yes, I am going to talk about a moment in THE debate. You know, the debate that has been talked about and fought about and debated about incessantly over the past few days.
But, I don’t want to talk about the content of the debate or what led to the moment or what people think about the candidates and moderator.
I just want to focus on the moment.
We all, collectively, NEED to focus on the moment.
It is a moment that so many people who have struggled with addiction yearn for — the moment when their loved one stands up and literally says to the world:
“My son/daughter/wife/husband/sister/brother/mother/father/friend had a drug problem. They’ve worked on it. And I’m proud of them.”
As I watched that moment in real time, I saw all those subtle changes in facial expressions, skin color, speech rhythm, breathing rate, and intonation that I’m trained as a therapist to pick up on.
In that moment, the Earth stopped spinning for just a beat for me. My own breath caught in my throat as I realized just how powerful that moment could be for anyone who has faced addiction and how powerful that moment could be for the topic of addiction itself.
How powerful are those two words for people on both sides of the addiction struggle?
It was an important moment for there still is so much shame and judgment around the topic of addiction, even after recovery.
That moment reminded us that not only is it ok to stand up, even when the whole world is watching, and be proud of your loved one for battling addiction, it’s crucial. It’s powerful. It can be life altering.
Perhaps even more importantly, imagine the power of being able to say “I’m proud of myself.”
To those of you who have been touched by addiction, I see you. I hear you. I’m proud of how fiercely you fight that battle.
Change is coming. The tides are turning. The shame is lifting. More moments are coming.
Share your pride for your loved ones. Share your pride for yourself.
I’m proud of all of you walking through the battlefield of addiction.
Tonight the feelings of self doubt are big.
That negative voice in my head is loud.
It shouts at me:
“You are a fraud”
“Your kids deserve a better mother.”
“Your friends deserve a better friend.”
“Your husband deserve a better wife.”
“Your family deserves a better version of you.”
“Your neighbors deserve a better neighbor.”
I know all the skills to use to drown out the negative thoughts.
I know how to poke holes in what I am saying to myself; how to find lack of evidence to support the negative thoughts; how to find evidence to support the opposing thoughts; how to identify the faulty thought patterns.
I know that the voice I am hearing does not have to dictate how and what I actually feel and believe about myself.
I know that I am loved, I am worthy, I am good enough, I am deserving of the good in my life.
But, some nights the depression and anxiety are just so damn loud.
Tonight is one of those nights.
So, tonight I write as a way to push those thoughts away.
Tonight I write to tell those thoughts to beat it.
Tonight I write to remind myself that I would never let a friend believe these things about themselves, would never let my children believe these things about themselves, would never let me clients believe these things about themselves, and so I’m not going to allow myself to believe these things about myself either.
Tonight I write because I know tomorrow will bring a new day.
Tonight I write because I know I’m not alone.
Tonight I write so others can know they are not alone
Now, more than ever, we all need a little support to help get us through the rough spots. With all the pressures of life, it can be a challenge to find time to not only take care of yourself but also to truly understand who you even are anymore.