There is a famous quote that sums up a sobering truth about humanity and helps me realign my perspective:
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”
– Rev. John Watson/Ian MacLaren
It is striking me more and more how we often have no idea about the reality of the struggles of those who surround us, and can assume that people have it easy when the truth is a different story. The unspoken cultural assumption that we should at least pretend to ‘have it all together’ definitely doesn’t help.
In our busy lives we often don’t afford ourselves the opportunities for real connection with those around us. We smile and wave and repeat pleasantries but these brief interactions don’t always afford the space for revealing how we ‘really’ are.
In comparison to most, I have it so easy. I am healthy, housed, fed, clothed and have a vibrant community of friends and family. But I want to resist giving off the image that I never struggle with things or find life difficult. So, in order to bridge the gap between the assumed and real, here are the five things I’m struggling with at the moment:
1. Bad News
Recently, we discovered that someone very close to us has received sobering news about their health. News of an ongoing potentially debilitating condition that will inevitably impact the way they move, process information and exist. It is so hard to know how to help, support and encourage in the face of such a difficult reality. For the moment we are just processing it all and figuring out what it all means.
I know this isn’t really something our culture discusses openly and our family has more than enough to live, thrive and celebrate meaningfully, but you know those times of year when it feels like everything is due at once? With the usual bills/rates, car registration coming up, presents that need buying, four family birthdays over December/January, a birthday party to host next week, plus an untimely broken windscreen – it all adds up and sits in the back of my mind. It is probably just one of those things Dave and I need to sit down and figure out, but for the time being I’m trying to be as frugal as possible in the little things. Case in point – today I did a lot of mending (particularly of our trampoline net) and did some Christmas shopping at Savers.
3. Skin Problems
That common understanding that your skin is supposed to glow during pregnancy – just not true for me. I don’t know what is going on, but this time around my skin is a disaster zone. It takes a focused session in front of the mirror every morning and a hell of a lot of makeup to cover up all the mess, which probably doesn’t help the health of my complexion in the long term!
4. Unhealthy Eating
This may be the reason for my skin problems, but I just can’t seem to say ‘no’ to Milky Ways right now. The problem is I just can’t stop at one and they seem to be calling my name often. That and the late night ice-cream/dessert Dave and I have somehow stumbled into needing every evening can’t be good for my body. The only consolation I have is that this baby seems to be voraciously consuming it all, so I haven’t had to up my exercise regime yet, but I have no doubts that it will hit me where it hurts before too long.
5. Obsessive Planning
Dave and I have planned a little get together for the joint purposes of celebrating his birthday and revealing the baby’s gender, and somehow we managed to invite a hell of a lot of people. I’m currently trying to get my head around making enough dough and sauce for 50 pizzas and getting my hands on crazy amounts of cheese and other ingredients to go on them. I’m really looking forward to the evening and relish a challenge, but this stage of planning has me walking around the house doing strange calculations in my head and going to bed every night thinking of efficient strategies for organising pizza making!
In saying all this, I really cannot complain about life overall. My struggles are so minor in the scheme of things and they don’t overwhelm my every thought. I know that others are not so lucky and that life isn’t an easy ride right now. I share this not to suggest that I need anything, but to take a step in breaking down the assumption that we need to sweep the tough stuff under the rug. Life isn’t meant to be or look perfect, and by sharing the realities with each other maybe we can make it a little easier?