The Struggle is now

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Why do we always wait until the struggle is over to talk about it? Is it because it’s too difficult for us to say out loud, “hey, I’m struggling. I need help. I need somebody to care and to show me that I’m more than enough.” Or it because we are worried about the judgement? Or is it because we don’t want to sound like we have low self-esteem? Or is it because we worry that if we are struggling, there is something wrong with us?

I miscarried two years ago. After a week of messaging the nurses from my clinic, having all the symptoms, getting my blood taken, and worrying that it was a miscarriage, all of my suspicions were confirmed. I stood next to my car with the door swung open. The sun was beating down on me, warming me on a cold, March Friday. The nurse from my clinic had finally called me and said that there was most likely no hope that I wasn’t having a miscarriage, that my HCG levels had dropped and that it was very rare that a pregnancy would continue past this point. She told me to get a heat pack, and make sure I was set for a cozy weekend, that the cramps would get bad, that I should take time off for the next several days. I stood there, Ben sitting in the driver’s seat, looking at me like he already knew the test results, Sofie in the backseat without a clue what was going on. We had driven to the botanical gardens for some fresh, spring air. I hung up and told Ben that I didn’t want to go home. I cried. We walked around, and when we were done looking at all the beautiful budding flowers, we ordered Chinese takeout and went home. I called my mom. I told her. I bawled my eyes out and told her I thought it was my fault. It was my fault because I hadn’t been excited about being pregnant in the first place. I had been anxious and sad. I had been thrown off-guard by this unplanned little miracle that I was now so attached to. I hadn’t even seen him or her. I had never gotten to hear a heartbeat, and yet, I was a complete wreck.

Through the weekend, I felt the last remnants of that short lived pregnancy slip away. On Monday I put on a happy face and taught a two-day, one-on-one workshop. The next week I wrote a blog post about it and ended it with a line about not feeling bad for me because I was happy with my life, and that I wanted to write this post for other people who had experienced worse child loss than me, to give them someone to talk to, to normalize child and pregnancy loss.

I wasn’t okay. But I wanted everyone to think I was okay. I wanted to believe I was okay. Why? Because I thought that not being okay made me weak. It made me feel like, if I asked for help, I just wanted attention. I felt like I had to be okay, so that I could be taken seriously by my peers, my clients, the vendors I wanted to attract. I didn’t want a struggle to impede my business growth.

How many times have you heard someone say, later, “I was at my lowest point”? How many times have you heard an actor say they struggled before, they struggled during the 10 years of auditioning for parts that they never got? Did someone know they struggled? Did they have someone to tell, someone who would not chastise them for their inability to remain confident but boost them with a helpful piece of advice, a “you got this”, a hug and a “I know it’s hard now but…”

What if we stopped waiting to tell the world that we are struggling? What if we were honest? What If I didn’t pretend that I had never been low after a miscarriage, never been scared it would happen again, never cried and yelled and told Ben that Henry was definitely not going to make it? What if I didn’t pretend that my business was successful just to look confident? What if I just said, “I’m struggling.” Our struggles may not ever turn into successes if we press them down and pretend they don’t exist.

If we don’t start to be honest, those things that are filling our heads with negativity may never go away. You can’t just write your problems away. But maybe, by having your people on your side, cheering you on, giving you that little boost, you can work them out and truly be free of them.

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