in the midst of crisis, ev.er.y.thing is hard. (read: impossible).
do you know the feeling of wading in a stream or river wearing flip-flops? every step is a battle of mud verses inner-toe-strength.
i experienced this feeling in the weeks after our separation. even small, simple tasks loomed large. every step forward was a battle. life zoomed at its normal pace, but i couldn’t keep up.
taking out the trash on the right day of the week, by the right time in the morning. why must the hoa do this to me?
doing my laundry. i think i wore items from the back of my closet that hadn’t seen light since the 9th grade.
setting up a new internet provider. calling a stranger gives me crazy anxiety (who’s with me?!).
washing my hair. getting out of bed. brushing my teeth. eating something other than chickfila. i barely slept, let alone felt the urge to take care of myself.
picking up after elsa. my poor neighbors.
cleaning out the fridge. the.worst.ever. i am a chronic tupperware throw-away-er. sorry, mom!
every task on my to-do list seemed like a mountain i had to move. the daily chores… the pebbles i’m supposed to carry on my own, loomed like giant boulders, impossible to shoulder. instilling deep anxiety and fear, shame and frustration.
i could no longer be as independent as i once was.
i think trauma and grief has this affect on us. you’re tricked into believing the pebbles feel like mountains. impossible to sludge one step further carrying your daily load. it convinces you that you are defeated, that this is the end. that you cannot survive another day.
[[kelly (my counselor) is having me read boundaries by dr. henry cloud & john townsend. (a book i’ve avoided like the plague for the last 10 years. because me? lack boundaries? WHAT?!) it’s kicking my ass. the authors refer to daily tasks as pebbles; and huge crises as boulders. pebbles are things you should carry on your own; boulders are things others help you carry. boundaries grow blurry when you ask people to carry the pebbles for you, or carry boulders by yourself.]]
often after a crisis, there is an appropriate 911 response of people who step in and help where they can, when they can. this often means they shoulder the daily pebbles for you for a season.
and my people were incredible—surprised cleaned my house, did all.of.my. laundry, took elsa on walks (and washed her poopy butt more than once), showed up with my favorite cilantro ranch dip from café rio, kept my house stocked with the essentials: my favorite wine and trader joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups, and did a million other things i probably never noticed or thanked them for.
but there came a point where i had to start carrying the pebbles myself. where i had to choose to lean into the discomfort or avoid it forever. where i had to choose to let this divorce refine me or define me.
so i challenged myself to do one hard thing every day.
the list-maker that i am, i wrote down all of my hard things. and spread them out on my calendar. one each day. no overachiever here.
sometimes the hard thing consisted of taking out the trash.
the next day, my hard thing was to get out of bed before noon.
then i would challenge myself to pay a bill i’d been putting off.
the next day, i had to call the counselor to set up my first appointment.
accomplishing one of those hard things would wear.me.out. send me back to bed, back to netflix, back to the grief.
but slowly, those pebbles-disguised-as-boulders became lighter. more manageable. i no longer needed the constant support of my people to do and carry everything for me.
and i have a feeling this may be something you might benefit from practicing, too. whether you’re facing a difficult season, the anxiety is too much to carry, you are spread too thin, every step forward is a battle. you, too, can do the hard things.
what is the hard thing you’ve been putting off?
scheduling the doctor’s appointment.
seeing the counselor.
reconciling that relationship.
washing that tupperware that’s been in the back of your car for weeks (you know the one i’m talking about).
going back to church.
taking your pup to the vet or groomers.
making a plan to pay off your debt.
refilling your prescription.
crossing something off your bucket list.
eating one cookie instead of seven.
trying a new hobby, art, meal plan, exercise routine.
seeking help for your addiction.
finishing your degree.
(ps. i borrowed these from my hard things list– well, except the cookie one. thanks, Claire)
can you do that one hard thing today?
because we do hard things.
we are a people who do hard things. who trudge through the darkness, through the muck, through the earthquake. who fight like hell to make it to the light. who are stronger, fiercer, kinder, and more gracious than we were before.
we do hard things because this crisis you’re facing?
it may refine you, but it doesn’t have to define you.
we do hard things because this season of struggle will not last forever.
head-down, my sweet friend. one tiny step at a time. you.can.do.this. and i’m right here to cheer you on. it seems so hard right now, i know. impossible even. but you can do this.
and the best part of all? there are so many opportunities to be kind to yourself in this process of doing hard things. because maybe you epically failed at accomplishing your hard thing for the day. but man. you thought about it. i’m so proud of you.
this week, my hard thing was to practice something i’m not great at. a perfectionist at heart, i hate failing. i hate coming in second. it makes me the most non-competitive, competitive. i won’t even attempt a game, activity, project unless i know i will be the best at it.
but i’ve been major crushing on this bright, bold, gorgeous painter named amira rahim. (follow her on Instagram, here). i have been wanting to attempt abstract painting… so i picked up a thick and hairy paintbrush (SO not my usual, fine-pointed, easy-to-control brush) and did it. i painted.
now, my piece leaves much to be wanting compared to amiara’s. but, it was my hard thing. and in creating this piece, i gave myself freedom to do other hard things that may not come naturally. that may feel really hard and impossible and embarrassing.
what is your hard thing? lets cheer one another on.
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