I’ve been struggling, friends.
It took me a while to figure out why because I am doing all sorts of adulting over here, and adulting is stressful with all it’s deadlines, health issues, decisions, spouses, kids, chores, lists, life, death, etc. So I guess when I noticed myself feeling a growing sense of anxiety, I just accepted it. A (lying) voice told me to accept it. This is what happens when you grow up. The responsibility catches up with you and of course you feel awful. Right?
It was a total stranger who made me question this voice.
I know this might seem strange, since I find myself writing some private thoughts to all of you, but I am typically a deeply private person. Maybe too private.
But I am learning. I am watching the wise people around me who go through crisis, and you know what they do? They reach out. They circle the wagons and they gather the village and they lean. I am watching. I am learning.
So when this voice was really messing with my head one day, and my rock/bff/husband was out of town, I reached out to some… strangers, really, on an online group I belong to. This group has nothing to do with grief, but it’s a cool group of women, so I took a breath and dove in. It was much longer than this, but I’ll summarize my post as,
“I’m stressed, I’m sad, I’m not parenting well. I’m grieving. I’m failing. Help.”
The very first line of the very first response I got was this:
“Grief is big, it is real, and it is long.”
That felt like permission. I read on…
There were others. There were online hugs, wishes for peace, great advice. But I think the most impactful messages were, like the one above, from women who had also lost loved ones and were still grieving. These women were 18 months, 3 years, 6 years out and still they grieve. I found these to be the most comforting messages, so of course I had to sit down and figure out why.
I thought about how much comfort and peace I am finding as I simplify and declutter my home. And how that experience feels so different from the other big decisions in my life right now.
What’s the difference?
When I declutter a drawer, the drawer is decluttered! It’s neat, it’s clean, it’s tidy, it brings me a sense of peace. Like, right then.
When I grieve, parent, meditate, or ponder some of the big decisions that we are facing right now, there is no tangible result. There is no beautifully decluttered part of my brain or heart or life that I can step back from and admire.
Instead, these things are all just part of a slow and usually invisible process.
I think, looking back, that I have been putting quite a bit of importance on the anniversary of my dad’s death. February 4th came and went. I had gotten through all the seasons and holidays and firsts, and yet…
On February 5th I was not magically restored. I was not done. I had not checked grieving off my to-do list. And maybe…definitely… I was disappointed. In myself.
And that pressure to see instant results, I now realize, was seeping into the rest of my life. I was taking processes like parenting and learning and healing and deciding and trying to turn them into prizes. Finish lines. Boxes to be checked. And then I struggled and wondered why I was so impatient and anxious all of the time.
I am not on this planet to check boxes. I am here to live. To grow. To be kind.
I forgot that it’s on the journey itself that the living happens.
And now I am remembering.
I am remembering that the parenting happens every day, in all the minutes. As my very wise friend told me once, “All of those minutes matter.” I will continue to simplify my home and life because it allows me more of these minutes. And I will not put pressure on myself and allow frustration that it is not done yet. I will live the “doing” just as much as the “done”.
And that goes for the other things too. These decisions that have to be made and healing and growing that needs to be done… it all happens in the journey. The answers will come as I am living my best life, and making time and space for what matters.
I am already seeing little differences. With no finish line to run to, I am more patient with myself, and with my sweet kids. I am yelling at them less. I am giggling with them more. I am taking more time for myself, my husband, and my kids, because… really, that’s what I am trying to get more of anyway.
Living and learning, over here, my friends.
I’ll just close by wishing for you what one of my wonderful stranger-friends wished for me that day.
“Big hugs. I wish I could send you a cup of tea, and a quiet spot to sit and just be. “
Wishing the same for all of you!:)