Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Encouragement Through Disappointment

The last few days have been a bit of a roller coaster for me. Things and hearts have been broken. Mine is among them. I'll bet you didn't know that, did you?

Some of that is just part of the everyday of raising children but the pile up of unexpected disappointment can get overwhelming for anyone. And I am definitely being counted in that number. I can deal with most everything life throws at me. Most of us are pretty resilient when life throws hurdles in our way. But we may not always feel like it. We may not always want to put a smile on, pull up our boot straps, and march forward. Sometimes, things get the better of us.

In the last few weeks I have been struck by the loneliness. It has taken me a bit off guard. My husband travels for work and TH is season has been especially grueling when it comes to his being gone. I usually handle it in stride but with all the downpour of crud it is a little harder. I love and adore my children but, try as they might, they cannot provide the companionship that my better half provides. The daytime is always easier but the night is when one becomes abundantly clear that the buck stops at you. I honestly don't know how single parents do it! I have such respect for any parent who has to go it alone.

I find that when I'm at my loneliest I search for connection. I am on Facebook longer, Pinterest longer, I text a little more. I am reaching out for a connection to someone else. And guess what...so is everyone else!

The thing is, pain and sadness have a funny way of making someone feel alone, like they are on the outside looking in. Sometimes Facebook makes me feel worse. Like when I see my friends conversing with one another and I wonder why I haven't been included. At times I am emotional and irrational, I worry what others think, thay I hurt their feelings, that I said something wrong, that I looked the wrong way.. In the light of day, after the storm has passed, I know that those thoughts are silly but not everyone can do that. Does that mean that every post or every conversation has to be carefully planned so that everyone is included? No. That would be exhausting!! That would be impossible. But that is why, in this age of technology and everything at our fingertips we should be even more aware of how little we personally reach out to someone. I like to see that funny video but I LOVE personally getting a text or even (gasp) a phone call.

But this isn't about me...not really because what I've realized in this stage in life is this: you never know what is going on in a persons life. I, for instance, have the personality that looks at things matter of factly. I certainly can't change my husband being gone, and I can't fix every problem immediately so I put on that smile, I pull up those boot straps, and I march forward. I do that because I realize that sitting in my house crying or whining doesn't make me feel any better. Don't get me wrong, I do those things. I just try not to do them for too long. I know that the longer I sit in that state the worse it is for me. So, I smile at my friends, I reach out to anyone who seems to be struggling, I help a stranger out. It makes me feel better for doing it. It makes me realize how small my issues might be.

I am a people watcher, an analyzer. Sometimes I am blinded by my own issues but I try to see what is going on behind the eyes. And I want that in return. So here is what I suggest when you are struggling: write out the sadness, call a friend, find a funny video, watch a sad movie, but move. Move forward. And when you are not sad (or even when you are), send a friend a text just to say hi (because maybe telling someone what is going on is too much).Tell someone how much you appreciate them (because you never know who needs to hear it). Smile at the clerk at the store and tell her you like her earnings (the last customer may have really been hard on her). Pay for someone's coffee (because they might be having a horrible day and you just tipped the scale-in the right direction). Really listen to what someone is saying (no one may have listened to them for quite some time). Don't instantly chastise someone for snapping (it's possible they were up all night with a sick child). Basically, always forgive, always love, and always look for the best in people (I work on this every day).

Above all, remember not to judge what someone is struggling with. One persons struggle is not another's. The same thing that breaks one person may only cause someone else to stumble-or maybe not even notice it at all. Likewise, remember that just because someone is used to going through something doesn't mean they are totally fine with it. Take my husband traveling for instance. Just because he's gone a lot doesn't mean I don't feel lost or sad when he leaves. So I encourage you to reach out, whether you are the one in pain or you are having that perfect shiny day. Ask how someone is and then wait to hear the real answer. Because I can guarantee you that almost everyone is going through something.