There are a lot of people in my life suffering right now. I don’t know what it is, if something cosmically is happening, but a lot of people around me are having a hard time. My family has had some difficulties (our home was broken into, I had a personal medical emergency) but what we’ve experienced is nothing compared to what others in my life are going through. My very close friend’s mother died. A dear colleague of mine is facing several problems in her personal life. Another friend’s childhood friend passed away at a young age. Another dear friend had her ATM card stolen along with all the money from her bank account. Another friend that I cherish had a miscarriage. Sadly, I could go on and on.
When you face suffering after having a child, whether it is your own personal suffering or you are helping loved ones get through a difficult time, you can’t help but think about your child. For me, I feel like during times of suffering my daughter brings me great joy. Kids are so innocent. She has absolutely no idea what’s going on if I’ve had a bad day or if someone in our family is struggling. She’s just happy. Her laughter finds its way into my soul in an instant, even when I’m feeling down and overwhelmed. There’s something really comforting being in her presence, knowing that she’s just happily living life, looking forward to snuggles on the couch watching her latest favorite show JoJo’s Circus.
But at the same time, while she is without a doubt a source of love and comfort, there is a part of my heart that aches. It aches because I never want her to feel the pain of struggle, of suffering. I know it’s inevitable of course, but my motherly instincts wish I could just keep her wrapped up in a protective bubble. But I can’t. I know that. But still my heart aches. My eyes still fill with tears at the thought that she will have to experience struggle, pain and hurt.
While I can’t wrap her up and keep her safe from hurt I can hopefully give her some perspective. Here are a few things that I hope to teach her as she grows up to help her deal with life’s hardships:
1. Every single person struggles. To be human is to struggle. No one is perfect. No one has a perfect life even if it may seem that way.
2. It’s OK to admit you’re struggling. As someone who has had a lifelong struggle with perfectionism I know it can be hard to let people in and tell them about what’s going on. But when you don’t let people in, they can’t help you and during dark times, you need help. It’s OK to admit vulnerability and to show your struggles.
3. Let others help. This goes with #2. If you find the strength to tell others in your life about your troubles, let them help you. It’s so easy to sort of just hunker down and think you’re in this alone, but we’re not. We get through life by relying on the kindness of other people.
4. The most important thing to learn is that struggle helps teach us compassion. When we struggle, we deepen our compassion for other people. We can empathize with others who have faced similar situations. To make a conscious decision to let our struggles teach us about compassion instead of letting them make us angry, resentful and bitter helps us find a sense of inner peace that cannot be found if we get stuck in negativity.
5. Life is worth living, even when it’s really fucking hard. Our human life is a gift, even with all of its pain, sorrow, grief and challenges. If we can learn from our struggles and choose compassion, with patience and time things will get better.