Is this you sometimes?
You hold it all together until the last person is out of the house and then you break down crying. Life is too hard. You think, “How can everyone else be doing so well but I am failing? What is wrong with me?”
Or you get ready for work and show up determined to have a good day. Your annoying colleague punches all the wrong buttons and you slump at your desk the rest of the day unable to really focus. You snap at others. You wonder why everyone else is successful while you are struggling.
Or you put on a brave smile and find the energy to get your kids ready for school. You drop them off at school and then find all your energy goes with them as they skip to their classroom. You think, “How does everyone else stay so focused and happy? Why am I so alone?”
Here’s the deal. You are not alone. People all around you think these thoughts and feel like giving up. Others that smile at you in public later go home and sit in a chair to cry. Or go back to bed. Or yell at others.
Life can be hard. We may be grieving for loved ones who died. We may be struggling in a marriage. We may be missing children who are off doing their own things. We may be torn by hurtful comments from people we thought were friends. We may be facing a serious illness. We may be worried about family members who are destroying their lives. We may be struggling to be patient with work colleagues who make lives miserable and there is nothing to be done about it.
The list goes on. No wonder we get down.
We cannot avoid having trials in life. What we can do is learn to reach out to at least one other person so we do not feel so alone.
When we keep our pain and grief tapped down, it will seep out the cracks in ways we don’t always recognize. It helps to have a friend or support person who will listen. You don’t need everyone to understand, but one person listening can do wonders.
When we feel shame or guilt, it helps to share thoughts with another person. Keeping our shame and doubts hidden only allows them to grow. By voicing those thoughts or asking questions about why you are the only one struggling, you can get them into the light of day and realize that they are less powerful when not hidden in the dark. When you have the right person to share those struggles, you often learn that he or she also has trials. We connect and realize that we are not the only ones hurting. This person may be a friend, family member, clergy member, counselor, co-worker, or support group person.
Finding a good person to confide in can be hard. Please keep trying. Be willing to show some vulnerability to others. You may be surprised to learn that they too need a friend. And if you try reaching out to people only to be hurt by them, understand they may be hurting even deeper than you and not able to connect at that level. Protect yourself from them in the future, but don’t give up on humanity.
Reach out to people in person and not just on social media. You might also connect with people through helping others in difficult situations. You don’t even need to share your specific struggles. By helping others, we can feel better about our situations.
Connecting with others will not magically take away all your problems. They are small steps. They are moments to help us catch our breath. And even though it is hard to believe, those people next to you who seem so confident and happy need others too. They also have doubts and trials.
You are not alone. And you have gifts and support to share with others too. Take a chance and reach out to others.