Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Some Advice for Hard Times

There is a crazy reason this post has come to be - but basically I wrote it in a dream last night and when I woke up I remembered the dream and I remembered moat of what I wrote, so I thought, I should really blog this.

But I also hesitate, because, well, often times I feel like when I do give advice it can fall short or not be a good fit, but this time, I'll let my insecurities go and try to say what is in my heart (and my dreams!) Also, I think the holidays can be an even harder time

And naturally, all my thoughts are coming primarily from my experience with going through cancer.

Dear Friend,

I know you are going through some hard times right now. I haven't been in your exact shoes myself, but I've been through some of my own hard times, and here is some advice I have for you.

Know that even during hard times, there can be moments of beauty. These moments won't make up for the hard times. The won't erase the pain, or the hurt, or the sadness, or the hardness of it all. But these moments will be good and happy. Embrace them. Smile when they happen and hold them close to your heart. Embrace them and let them be what they are. You will still feel sad, tired, sick, pain, etc, but for those moments you will also feel happy, thankful, and it will be nice.

Which leads me to my next thoughts for you: allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling. Sometimes we want to stuff the bad, sad, unpleasant down and ignore it. We want to put on our happy, smiling faces, and pretend like every thing's wonderful. But you don't have to. It's okay to feel sad or beat up or angry or however you are feeling during this hard time. Your friends won't be mad, in fact, they want to help you. When they ask how you are doing, they really want to know. It's okay to show the world that everything isn't wonderful all the time.

At the same time, sometimes when we are in difficult times, it's hard for us to be happy or to celebrate. But it's okay to celebrate, even in the midst of pain or loss or whatever is going on for you. We as humans are amazing in that we can often feel many emotions at once, and usually half of them are complete opposites of the other ones we are feeling. So you can be happy. You can be sad. However you are feeling, honor that. Be true to yourself and your feelings.

Get good people around you. Sometimes during hard times, we tend to pull away from our friends and family. And while it can be healthy and good for us to be alone for awhile, but don't be alone always. Find some people who will just come be with you. Not necessarily to take you out, or keep you up hours with conversations, etc - sometimes we just need our friends to be with us, no words needed. Gather those friends around. Tell them, hey, I need you to just come and watch tv with me. I don't feel like talking, but I don't want to be alone. People will do that for you. Well, you might have to remind them you don't feel like talking a few times, but they'll get there.

Speaking of having people in your life, get a few people - close, close friends or family (for me, it's my husband) and give them permission to tell you to snap out of it, but only if you really (and I mean really, really) need to hear it. Choose this person(s) wisely though because they'll be walking a fine line should they ever have to say something. A friend* once told me she allowed herself to have a few laps in the pity pool as she needed them, but treading water in the pity pool was not allowed. This is the deal I have with my husband ... I get my laps in the pity pool as I need them, but if I start to get stuck in there, he can give me a (gentle) nudge.

And through all of this, just take it a day at a time. An hour at a time if you need it. A minute at a time if that is where you are at. And when you do that self-talk, pretend you are talking to your best friend. Don't be down on yourself. Don't tell yourself that you shouldn't be feeling/doing one thing and that you should be doing/feeling another thing. There are no should's or shouldn't's. Let go of the woulda, coulda, shoulda's. You have enough on your plate. Let the guilt go. You can't go back and change the past. And today, all you can do is what you can do. Some days that will mean you do the bare minimum to get through the day. And that is okay.

Now a special note to the parents. As parents, we often want to be strong for our kids, or we don't want to cry in front of them. My advice? Cry in front of them. Be honest, say you are sad or scared or sick or however you are saying. That's not to say you will sit down with your 3 year old and talk to him like he's your best friend, or that you will do the same with your 16 year old, but still. Be honest. Your children probably know something is going on. They can probably sense how you are feeling already. And children, when left to fill in the blanks, often do so in ways that are worse than the truth. Not only that, but you'll be teaching them that it's okay to have emotions. If they see you process your emotions in a healthy way (notice I didn't say in a perfect way), they will learn to do the same.

Here's the sucky truth, life is not fair. It just isn't. I wish it could be, I wish I could take away all the hurt and pain and sadness and sickness. I can't. It's not easy to get through. And not every story has a happy ending. But above all else, during these times, you have to just stay true to you, to how you are feeling, to what you are thinking. I can't promise sunshine and rainbows. I can't promise no rainy days. But surround yourself with good people and allow yourself to feel all the emotions - even when they are all over the place or they are conflicting with each other - it's okay. It's not a sign of weakness, it's a sign you're human. And that is just one of the many reasons I love and care for you!


*Wendy is the friend who told me. She was passing along advice from her friend Cee.

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