In less than a month since taking this terrifying leap to stand in our truth together, I have had the unexpected honor of hearing from so many people. Nothing could have prepared me for the number of people who have courageously sent messages, emails and letters to invite me into their sacred spaces. I refer to them as sacred because they’re those spaces we put on reserve. We don’t offer them up to everyone because not everyone would receive them responsibly, honorably or willingly.
Every story is as unique as how each person is navigating their own individual pathways. What has been interesting to read is how there is an unexpected similarity in every message, email and letter I have received. One person shared,
“When I am struggling to feel happiness, it’s as if everyone around me reminds me of how blessed I am. I begin to feel guilty that I must not be expressing my appreciation for what I have because I’m admitting I’m struggling.”
Another person wrote:
“Being a mother is hard. I don’t want to admit it’s hard and have everyone think I’m ungrateful or don’t recognize how lucky I am to be a mom. So, I just don’t share how I’m struggling which makes me feel really alone.”
These are only two of the experiences people continue to share and I chose them for a specific reason. If only every person was able to share what you are bravely sharing with me. Even though our struggles may be experienced differently, what everyone has in common is fear. None of us want to be perceived negatively anymore than we want the expression of our feelings to leave us paralyzed by judgment for how we’re not feeling them the “right” way. Not only are people afraid to express and share in their struggles, but they’re not allowed to do so without being reminded to feel “happy” and “blessed” during it. Now, this is not to ridicule the millions of people who have been conditioned to divert people from feeling an emotion. I do it too. We don’t know what to say and sometimes the emotional offering makes us feel uncomfortable, so we try to make it positive and lighter. But here is the other side.
Hard has a place too.
Just because our struggle is hard doesn’t mean we don’t see the value, purpose, gratitude, joy, blessing and happiness in it. When we admit that things are hard, it allows us to connect with people. When we admit that we’re struggling, we permit an open space for people to know they’re not alone. When we bury the truth of our struggle, it dishonors us from being imperfect people who have a right to belong, be seen and heard. I would argue that it’s one of the few things we all share that is real.
If someone admits that they’re in pain or struggling, it’s okay to sit in that space with them. It’s even okay to not have the right answers, offer solutions or know how to help them. There is power in embracing the “hard” on the receiving end of that vulnerable admission. Maybe then, there wouldn’t be so many people afraid to share the struggles and leaving us to feel even more disconnected than we already are. Hard doesn’t have to squeeze itself into a secretive place. We can allow ourselves to sit in it, accept it, work through it and share it when we allow it to be what it is…hard.