There's a balance between always looking on the bright side of life and getting completely mired in self-pity. I'm not so good at finding balance in this area; I'm a bit of an emotion stuffer because I always think of others who have it harder. It could be worse, right? While that is true for many, it doesn't mean that we don't - each and every one of us - struggle.
4 years ago last month I had a miscarriage. I wasn't very far along and we hadn't planned on getting pregnant just yet, but the miscarriage was still devastating to me. I didn't like talking about it too much, but when I did I had several people say, "How far along were you? Oh, it's good you weren't farther along. You'll get pregnant again soon." The topic would quickly change and I felt like I was being dismissed. And I knew people who had lost babies farther along in pregnancy, had stillbirths, lost children, so I didn't feel like I had a right to grieve. My loss was not as great. I found myself saying, "We weren't quite ready for another baby" (our first was just 9 months old) and "It's okay, we'll be trying for another baby soon." I stuffed my feelings down every time they tried to surface.
Fast-forward a few months. Tyler and I got into an argument one night; I was not being reasonable and I think I was picking a fight. I had been on edge for a little while and couldn't put my finger on it. Our "discussion" was going in circles and I knew I just needed to take a breather. It was late and so I went in and laid on the bed in our guest bedroom. I prayed because that's what I do. I realized quickly that I had been stuffing my emotions about the miscarriage for too long, but there they'd sat, just under the surface, waiting to be addressed. And now was the time. Suddenly, I was sobbing like I had never sobbed before and all of my feelings of grief were pouring out of me. I finally knew that I had a right to them and that I needed to own them in order to move forward. I let it flow...and flow it did. For a long time. It was the closure that I needed.
We should not compare our trials to anyone else's - either to say that we have it worse or that we have it easy. At least not at first. Should we ever? Own your trial. Understand your trial. Say that your trial is hard and look for help from others if you need to. Accept and learn from your trial. Conquer that thing!
I've learned that even though I live around NAVY wives whose husbands are out to sea for months at a time, I still have a right to say that it stinks that my kids don't see their dad 2 days a week because he works and is going to school. It's hard for me...for us. But at the same time, it has deepened my respect for NAVY families and their sacrifices.
A balancing act, to be sure. Sometimes I put my foot down on the wallowing side for too long and sometimes I drop down into the optimistic side where I don't let myself really feel. Own my feelings, but don't get mired in them. I'm not always good at it. Maybe I'm never really good at it? But I'm trying.