Whew. Can we all just take a second to agree that life is hard? Our definitions of hard may look different depending on what you’ve been through in your life, but problems are still problems and setbacks are still hard to wrap our heads around sometimes.
September 11, 2019 was the one year mark of losing my husband, J, to cancer and it really hit me for what felt like the first time of how permanent this loss is. I have always explained death as hard because of its permanence. I’ve lost grandparents and family members and know how that hole in your heart is never quite patched back together, but it was different this time since J was my whole heart. It was bigger than a hole and the emptiness in my chest feels like it grows every single day. 365 days of that same pain was enough for it to really set in that life will be like this forever.
The one person I miss more than anything will not be reunited with me on this side of eternity and that hopelessness pulled me into an apathetic hole that I’ve been trying to claw myself out of ever since.
We tend to write about things after we already past them, but I’m writing you today from a continual place of trying to pull myself out of a rut. When I have good days, they are great. I laugh so hard that for a moment I feel like I just might pee myself, the sun shines on my skin just enough that I feel the golden warmth and am reminded how blessed this life is, and I have got positive energy surrounding me so much so that it forces a smile from the people around me.
I also have days where getting out of bed is a chore. I’ll be so overcome with social anxiety that I feel like everyone hates me or is talking about how annoying I am behind my back. I have days where the weight of grief is so heavy that I’m afraid it may swallow me whole.
My September was filled with more bad days than good and October was all about rebuilding from that pain. I shared on Instagram that I haven’t been feeling much like myself and I got so many responses of advice for how to pull yourself out of a rut or even people just saying that they relate, but I also got messages from people saying they would have never guessed that I was feeling this way.
The truth is, I could be having a terrible day that started with me having a tear-filled breakdown on the way to work, and you probably would never know. As much as I strive to create an authentic space for us to share our pain, I’m sure most of you know that if you don’t make it up in your mind to put on a brave face, you will not survive the weight of the world. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I’m not being fake by not succumbing to my pain, I’m simply doing my best to survive it.
As we journey through November, I wanted to share a few things that helped me survive that pain and brought me to a healthier place mentally. I’m constantly revisiting this list as I feel a wave of hopelessness overcoming me, so I hope there are a few pointers to pull you out of your rut as well.
- Admit that you’re in a rut. Even if the only words that you can get out are “I’m not okay,” tell someone. I have so many people on my home team that are always asking how I’m doing and I’ve had to get better about being honest when I’m just not having a good day. Some days I want to talk about it and other days I don’t, but even taking the brave face off for a second gives me a feeling of freedom.
- Get back to the things that make you feel alive. I love the idea of doing regular life audits and checking in with yourself. What’s making you happy right now or making you feel the most like yourself? What is draining your energy or making you feel like you’re not yourself lately? Understanding these things will enable you to be more intentional with how you are filling your days.
- Put your blinders on. Don’t be afraid to mute, unfollow or take a timeout from draining people and relationships. This applies online and in real life. Your mental health and well-being are the only priorities you should have and anyone or anything who is not bringing you peace may need to be put on pause for a little while.
- Take advantage of the moments you feel the most like yourself and build on them. You may not have good days right now, but maybe you have good moments throughout the day that you can tap into to get some things done.
- Pray through it. Oh, how I love Jesus but I also know that I went through a season where He and I weren’t exactly on the best terms. It took me a while to learn to trust Him again and even as a faith-based blogger/business owner even I get annoyed with the “just pray through it” answer because even though God is bigger than my problem, in the moment that advice can feel like it’s not a tangible solution. Even still, a simple and half-hearted “Jesus, give me strength” can take you further than sitting in silence will.
Hopefully we can all be honest in our hurt that we have bad days. That doesn’t make us weak; it makes us human. I had to set my pride aside and lean on friends this past month to help pull me out of a place that I could have easily stayed in. It’s okay to need each other and admitting that need actually makes you stronger than you’ll ever know.