Survival Mode

I'm afraid my kids will look back on 2012-20+ as the years their mom just: survived.  

Hell, that's how I look at them.  

Some days are literally just about making it. Making myself get out of bed in the morning. Forcing myself to make meals. Go grocery shopping. Cook. Clean the kitchen. Do laundry. Be a mom. Sigh.

It's an awful thing to be a mom and feel like all you can do is the absolute bare minimum.  It makes me feel incapable, useless, pathetic. Basically, like a bad, bad mom.

Just surviving is a dismal place to be. It brings out insecurities, makes you question your purpose. Sometimes you even start to wonder if you have a purpose.

It's downright depressing.

There's something about constant pain--whether it be emotional or physical--that makes you feel defeated. Totally, completely, utterly defeated.

I've gotten used to it now; the pain. It's always there. My body inexplicably imploding. Tests never giving answers, nerves obsessively sending out signals reminding me not to bend over too far, or carry too heavy a load of laundry down the stairs. Not to walk too fast, or move too much. Every motion a reminder of all the things I can't do, but so desperately want to.

This just surviving isn't ALWAYS there. Most of the time, I do pretty well. I am usually upbeat, happy, maintaining a belief that one day things will be different, believing this pain will one day be gone, gone, gone.  

And really, I'm lucky. I can still do a lot of things. I'm not in a wheelchair, I'm not completely immobile, but most days my 93-year-old grandma moves better than I do. (Holla, Grandma.) My house may not be as clean as I want, my yard may look like a jungle, but I can still do a lot of things. I'm pretty lucky, dammit.

Yet, so often I find that's not enough.

Just surviving is never enough.

There was a time when I would have tried to brush off the intense despair of just surviving. Ignore it. Distract myself so I didn’t have to feel these feelings. There are times when I still try to do just that.  

But I’ve learned how important it is to confront emotions head on. To sit with them and acknowledge them, not to let them fester, or get stuck.

That's the hardest part. Actually sitting down and opening yourself up to the intense, raw pain.  The ugly whole of it, not just parts of it.

Confronting emotions like anger, loneliness, sadness, desperation, hopelessness, over and over again isn't easy.  In fact, sometimes, it feels like a battle to the death. Emotional death. Spiritual death. Dare I say, physical death. It makes giving up seem like the only option.

But maybe.....

Maybe that 'death' is what is needed to be reborn. To regain hope. To start over. To feel refreshed and renewed. To have the courage and determination to make it to the next battle.

Every time we dig, crawl, climb our way out of the trenches, we reemerge a little bit more experienced, a little bit braver, and a helluva lot stronger.

There's something empowering about allowing yourself to feel the bitter depths of negative emotions. To acknowledge and allow them to move throughout your being, rather than ignore and find ways to distract from them.

There's some kind of wonderful magic that comes from being real, open, and honest about what is making you feel so intensely.  About asking yourself the hard questions: what am I feeling? Why am I feeling it?  

Don't get me wrong, it hurts like hell and the magic doesn’t always come in that exact moment. But eventually, it does way of healing. Glorious, magnificent, beautiful healing.   

If you would have asked me ten years ago where I thought my life would be now, I would have never thought I would be here....just surviving.  But ask me where I'll be in two years and I can say with certainty that I will be better off in every way possible.  Not only will I be healthy (I swear I will be healthy) but I will have gained an amazing, invaluable, very large treasure chest of knowledge.  Knowledge that will help keep me, not only surviving, but living the most beautiful life.

I know I'm not alone in this. I know people who struggle every day with the circumstances of their lives.  I am always amazed to hear people's stories.  People who have made it through so much worse than me. People do it. They survive. They get through life, over and over and over again and live to tell about it.  

And when in the thick of it, it may just feel like getting by, but really we are learning every second. We are growing every second. We are changing every second. Becoming who it is we were put on this earth to be.

"There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something better tomorrow.” -Orison Swett Marden

Perhaps today feels like you’re just surviving, but hold out for tomorrow, Beautiful. Because tomorrow will be better. And so will you.

Hold on to that hope.

That hope is what makes survival-mode worth surviving.