(NB. Spelling/grammar errors
likely, I’m extremely tired, and autocorrect is my nemesis! I’m choosing to post anyway, figuring, ah hell, it’s an imperfect world!)
Someone on Facebook posted one of those motivational posters (you know the ones, usually italic text on a picture of a sunset.) and the quote was “I don’t know how my story will end, but nowhere in the text will if say I gave up.” Gave up was in capitals so you could be totally sure of the main point of the quote. Now I am not against motivational quotes, far from it. If it helps someone or cheers someone up then I’m all for them. And a good quote can often help you see something from a different perspective which is never going to be a bad thing.
However, I disagree with this one. Maybe I’m weak. Or maybe I’m allowing myself (and others) to be human. In my text, there will be a few times where it will say I give up, or variations! I surrender, I give in, I can’t do this. The power and the strength comes from getting through those moments. From getting to your lowest points, giving up and then picking yourself back up again. Or even if someone else picks you up, that you continue at some point is the main thing. There’s been a few times this pregnancy where things have overwhelmed me and I’ve felt defeated, I’ve felt conquered. I’ve ignored my phone, and wanted to take annual leave from the carousel of life (very dramatic of me I know, I always have had quite the dramatic flair!). I have, so far in my life, 100% record of getting through bad days. Sometimes by my own strength, sometimes with the help of others. I’m proud to know that on some occasions, I have been the person to hell somebody else up when they have given up or been temporarily beaten by something in their life. Strength comes from carrying on, forgiving yourself or others and getting back up after you’ve put down your sword (metaphorical sword obviously!).
So whilst motivational posts can be great, they can also serve to make people feel as if they’re being weak or not rising to the challenges that they just don’t feel like they can take on at that time.
We got to a point this pregnancy where it looked like our second child wouldn’t be safe. Where my health problems would make a safe arrival not possible. And I was heartbroken, and my husband and I were terrified. The ‘chin up’ attitude was, for at least a few hours, totally abandoned. We allowed ourselves together to feel the pain, to give in, to absolutely feel our worst. We clung to each other and then together, with the help of some amazing friends and some family, who gave us unquestioning, and totally selfless support, we picked ourselves up again. We’re now thankfully at a safe stage where even if baby arrives later this morning, there should be no major health risks.
Are we failures for that dark moment? Weak because part of us gave into feeling hopeless and terrified? No! We were overwhelmed for a short time. Life is very difficult for all of us and anyone who says they haven’t had moments where they’re truly not sure if they can cope are lying! (Or should maybe write a manual that the rest of us can borrow!) Sure there are some people that seem to enjoy wallowing in gloom and telling anyone with ears how much worse their problems are without ever bothering to ask how anyone else is; but to keep yourself sane, surround yourself with people who don’t seek out misery! (That comment is not directed at those with mental illnesses or genuine problems, instead just the – luckily small minority – of people who cast themselves as real life dementors!)
A close friend of mine recently confided that she was really struggling with loneliness after a rather nasty break up, having had her whole life planned in front of her she said to me after popping round ‘I know it sounds pathetic compared to other people’s problems, but I just don’t feel I can cope.’ To her, a lot of the motivational posts online just made her feel like she was weak or at least not as strong as she ‘should be’. I believe my words were (and admittedly I’ve been a lot more blunt in this third trimester) ‘oh b%ll%cks to that, you’re going through a tough time, let yourself feel it as then pick yourself up when you’re ready.’ I didn’t in anyway mean she should quit her job or move to Thailand or anything that drastic. Merely that, do you know what, sometimes it’s ok to eat an entire tub of icecream, whilst crying your eyes out and feeling the hurt that motivational pictures and quotes seem to imply we shouldn’t allow ourselves to feel. My follow up advice to her was that if she chose gin or wine to grieve with, maybe avoid her phone or social media so she didn’t making any calls or posts she may regret! By all means, check out the quotes afterwards when you’re ready to roll your sleeves up and get up and at ’em, they can then be a great motivational aid. But for Gods sake lets sometimes allow ourselves to say, this time of my life (or time in the week or even just an hour of a day) is really freaking bad and that’s ok. When it rains heavily, we know it will stop at some point, although you can use an umbrella, it’s useless to try and stop the rain from falling, just know that it will pass and know it’s ok if you get wet.
So my text will definitely read that I gave up in places. You can’t ever stop the carousel of life but you don’t have to pretend to enjoy every minute, or play the part of untouchable superhero at all times.
To anyone who is going through a particularly difficult period at the moment, I salute you comrade. Real strength comes in embracing those moments and picking yourself back up when you are ready, it also means you will have more effectively dealt with how you’re currently feeling. So although it hurts, it’s win win (in a really difficult way to see right now kind of way!). Give up with vigour if you need to and it may help you not give up at other times down the line.
I’m not currently in a giving up place, we’re in a much better situation than we were a few weeks ago, so although my ward companion is snoring, and it’s 4.30am and I haven’t slept yet, I am actually feeling quite optimistic. And I’m really thankful for that. But this is life we’re talking about, it won’t be the last time I want to crawl under a duvet, have a cry and say ‘I can’t do this!’ I want my two children to grow up knowing that you’re obviously aiming high enough if you sometimes try and reach for the skies and miss. And that its ok to fall sometimes without feeling like a failure. Behind every happy life, are dark times that act to drive us to get there. Behind every success story are several, and often spectacular moments of failure. That’s ok. By all means edit your storyline for public consumption, the suffering doesn’t have to be in public, but don’t hide it from yourself. Embrace it and know that as you also have a 100% record for getting through bad days, it’s ok to give yourself a break when you get through the next one.