I have struggled, these past few weeks. Mentally, more than anything.
I have struggled to sleep, in all forms and stages – I do not remember the last time I was asleep before midnight. Twice in the past three weeks I have not only been awake to see the sun rise, but I have not yet slept when it happens. I do not remember the last time I slept deeply and restfully. I do not remember waking and feeling refreshed.
I have struggled with anxiety – with the fact that I can help someone else put together a successful resume and application for a job, but seem incapable of finding employment myself. I have struggled with my own perceived expectation that I should keep a spotless house, and create delicious, wholesome meals every day. Struggled with the fact that I should have the laundry done on time, instead of letting it pile up so now we have a mountain of towels to wash. I’ve struggled with the idea of lugging the laundry basket downstairs to use the clothes line, only to have to go back out again later and lug it all back upstairs. I have struggled with the image of the perfect housekeeper, because I am not working and have no children to occupy me, therefore, my focus should be on keeping the home because what else am I doing with my time?
I have struggled with the idea of financial stability – knowing it is not something that I have at the moment, or for the foreseeable future, is terrifying.
I have struggled to compose a piece for my blog. There are so many thoughts whirling around in my mind, it’s a constant cyclone of emotion and irrationality and fear. I cannot string sentences together like I could before. The words no longer run freely and lightly, but skip and stagger and falter, disjointed and fractured. I want to write something that will make you smile or laugh. But everything keeps coming out wrong, spilling heavily onto my screen with an almost audible thud. I have struggled with the pressure I place on myself to produce something of a high standard, the absolute best that I can do, and then struggled to define to myself what my best is.
I have struggled, knowing that we have to move from the place that we have called home for the past nine months, before we were ready to do so. I have struggled with the concept of sorting and packing and moving, because I know this is a lengthy and exhausting task, and my already tired brain and body and soul are overwhelmed at the thought of doing so. I’ve struggled with knowledge that this will create more financial strain for my partner than I ever wanted to put on him. I have struggled with feeling inadequate, like some kind of parasitic creature who requires him to live and exist. I have struggled with the fear that I will be viewed as that parasite, when in reality, it is the furthest thing from the truth that there could be. I have struggled with the fact that I am tired, deep down to my bones, for no particular reason at all.
I have struggled to remember that I am a strong woman – that I am unique and have value, and that I bring joy to others. I have struggled to find that warrior within me, her heart beating savagely, screaming “We are not done! We are not broken! We are not beyond repair!”
I have struggled to remember that I am more than the number on the scale, or the tags of my clothing. I have struggled to explain to my partner that while he sees a creature of beauty and intelligence and creativity within me, and I do not doubt that he is genuine when he tells me of this, I cannot see myself the way he does, and that is not his fault.
I have struggled with the idea of feminism, particularly so in the past few days, and the fact that it is still needed in todays society. Because we still hear that “if boys hurt you, it means they like you”, because we still push the blame squarely back onto victims of sexual and domestic violence (“What were you wearing?” “How much did you drink?” “Why didn’t you just leave?”).We still struggle to explain to some men that no, we do not have to fall at their feet in gratitude because they gave us a “compliment” that we didn’t ask for. No, not reciprocating their interest does not make us uptight bitches. No, we do not have to thank them for telling us they appreciate our outer shell, or smile just because they told us to. No, we are not interested in them just because they are interested in us, and no, being single would not automatically make us interested in them. They do not have a right to invade our space and our bodies just because they like what they see. Some days, during my travels through the internet, I even have to tell gay women that no, one hour with them would not change my mind forever, that I have never doubted or questioned my sexuality, and that I wouldn’t dream of suggesting they go and try sleeping with a guy, just to see if it changes anything for them. I struggle with the fact that in this day and age, in a society that has become more progressive and accepting, our world is still full of such ignorance that it boggles the mind.
I struggle with the fact that many guys I know have expressed the fear of engaging in what they thought was a consensual act between two people, only to have the other party turn around and claim it wasn’t after the fact. I struggle with the fact that we still teach our daughters to weaponize their car keys by holding them between their fingers as they walk from their workplaces to their cars at night, or from their cars to their front doors. We teach them to carry pepper spray and rape whistles, and to scream “Fire!” if they are ever being attacked, because the chances of someone responding to a fire are higher than the chances of someone responding to a scream of “Rape!” I struggle with the double standard of dating – that men with multiple partners are legends, and that women with multiple partners are sluts. Confident men are sexy, but confident women are bossy. I struggle with the competition between women – it’s bad enough that we have to prove ourselves against men with outdated ideals and expectations, we shouldn’t have to be competing against one another too.
I have struggled to express myself, eloquently and adequately. I have struggled to write a piece that is light hearted and hilarious, because I would begin to write, and then this piece kept beginning to form, segueing from light hearted observation into something darker and more pressing, demanding to be written. I am struggling right now with how easily these words are flowing, when today, I spent hours trying to make other pieces on other topics work, and failing miserably. I’m struggling with the fear that this topic might be too heavy for my reader base, and that it will do more damage than good. I’m worried that people close to me will read this, and think that I’m mentally unhinged.
I’m not, for the record. I just want to make that clear. My mental is still very firmly hinged. I’m just overwhelmed right now. I’m tired. It happens sometimes. But I promise it’s not forever.
And I have struggled, above all else, to give myself permission to struggle. I, who am the first to tell anyone else that it is OK to not be OK, who preaches the importance of honest and open communication when it comes to the stigmas surrounding our mental health, cannot give myself permission to do the same. I, the woman who is the first to offer a sympathetic ear, who insists that there is no shame in being overwhelmed, or feeling inadequate, or not being able to get out of bed some days, feel ashamed of myself because I am not coping as well as I think I should be. I am reluctant to admit that I am struggling, because in my mind, my problems are not major. I know that there are people in this world who have very real, very threatening problems, and that mine compared to theirs mean nothing. I think I am afraid to admit that I’m struggling, only to have someone turn around and belittle my reasons why. I cannot give myself permission to do exactly what I encourage everyone else to do. And that’s kind of messed up.
So, I think I write this piece as a way of humanizing the demons that have been taunting me lately. I write this piece to try and help others understand, or perhaps feel less alone if this is relatable to them. I write this to acknowledge my struggle, and to give myself permission to feel it, to work through it, and to try again.
Because despite how hard and overwhelming life is at the moment, I’m not done trying. I know that I will take the time I need to work through my crap, until I am ready pick myself up, dust myself off, and smile again.
And then I will ask Life, “Is that all you’ve got?”
Run at me, bitch. I’m much tougher than I look.