You sit before me, you tell me your story, and I listen.
I listen intently and I hear what you’re saying.
I hear your words speaking your struggles but I also notice them on your face.
You’re detailing how life is a struggle right now, but I sense it’s been that way for a while. Like a toxic on again off again relationship, you have a history with struggle, a relationship with it. You’re familiar with struggling, with striving, with fighting and with battling. And here you sit before me because the weight of those battles leave you tired and desperate for change.
You’d happily welcome ease right now. Oh how you long for ease. People think you can handle anything. They think you’re strong and stoic. But you know you’re fooling them. Because the truth is beneath the facade of strength, you’re battle weary and you’re trying your hardest to keep it together.
It's not easy, I know. Even through the mask of invulnerability your tiredness leaks out. Tightly packed under it, like a vessel full to the brim, lies all the frustration, the disappointment and the sadness. I feel it. And I feel the hidden exhaustion and vulnerability you can’t expose.
I get it. You’ve had to swallow it, all of it, and you’ve had no choice but to put one foot in front of the other and to just keep going.
But even though there’s tiredness and struggle, you’re appreciative for what you have. Of course the family are wonderful gifts you cherish, but it’s not what you have that troubles you, it’s what’s missing that hurts. It’s what didn’t go right that keeps you up at night. It’s the aching, the longing, the yearning for what is no longer, that tugs at you in the silence when no one’s around.
And yes, of course there have been good times. Of course there are still pockets of joy. Of course it’s not ALL doom and gloom. There are indeed beautiful and wonderful moments. But sadly, they seem so far and few between.it takes more effort and hard work than anything else.
The truth is: more time and more decades have passed through your life than you have time and years left. And that’s a difficult truth you’d rather not deal with. Because the reality is, the second half of life is here now. The future has caught up and the sad fact is, life hasn’t gone to plan. It just hasn’t gone to plan.
Life wasn’t supposed to be like this. It wasn’t supposed to be this hard. Life wasn’t supposed to be a struggle. It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way. You don’t know when it got like this, but you do know it’s just not supposed to be this difficult.
“I’m not supposed to be struggling at my age”, I hear you say. “I’m supposed to be in the good part of life; the part where things get easier. I’ve done the hard yards, and I’m waiting for the pay off, but there hasn’t been one yet”
I hear the complaints. I hear the disappointment. Life isn’t as you want it to be. Life didn’t turn out as it should. I feel how your dreams and your heart got shattered. And sometimes, (on low days), the feint smell of defeat lingers in the air. But you can’t go there, you stop yourself because people need you, they depend on you. So, you do the thing you always do, the only thing you know how to do; you push it down, and you keep going.
In almost disbelief of where you’re at, you say “I’m supposed to have more money than I do. I’m supposed to be in a loving and satisfying relationship. I’m supposed to be basking in the pride of what I’ve achieved. I’m supposed to have more stability, more joy, more success. And I’m supposed to be happy!
…but I’m not. I’m not in that place”, you cry, as you wrestle with the confusion.
”It’s not supposed to be like this! It’s NOT supposed to be this hard. I’m SUPPOSED to have ease. This struggle wasn’t part of the plan!”
Indeed there WAS a plan. Fat lot of good it did, you say as the resentment seeps out.
”I did my best, I raised my kids, I worked hard - I still DO work hard! So why is it like this?
It’s so confusing because I’m not a bad human being. I do all the right things, I try so hard, yet some how, it just doesn’t get easier for me. Some how the issues and the shit just follows me.
It’s not supposed to be like this; I’M supposed to be feeling better than this!
I’m tired Belinda. I’m weary. And I just want relief. Tell me you can help”
I hear you. I see you. I feel you. And I smile, because, I CAN help.
I can help because I can hear the words you say, but more importantly, I can hear the words you don’t say. I can even hear the words you can’t say; the words you’ve never said, the ones that need to be said.
I see the dreams that have shattered. I feel the layers of difficulty, struggle and disappointment stack upon each other. The ache of crumbling relationships. The ending of the one you thought would last forever. The inconvenience of health issues you must now contend with. And the hidden sorrow of the deeply suppressed mother issues.
Whether it’s no children, or feeling overwhelmed by children, or raising a troubled or sick child, children are part of the struggle too.
But even through the burdens, the stress and the hurt, you keep going. You keep going. You keep going. You keep going.
After each battle, you pick up the pieces. You dust yourself off and you rebuild. You overcome. You endure. And you just keep going.
You're a survivor. And you've survived, but the truth is, you’re not quite the same. People think you’re robust and unaffected. And some days you believe it too, but deep down you know that little pieces of you were left behind. Little fragments of the shattered self never quite returned back to you. And you haven’t quite fit back together the way you were; the way you want.
So you persist, and you try your hardest to make things ok again, and you focus on money. Believing things will be ok when there’s more, you hang your hope that having more will equal a better life, an easier life. Money will solve many of my problems you think, you hope, you wish, you dream. But that’s yet to be proven because there’s never quite enough to find out.
So you stress and you worry. And you ruminate and obsess as you try to control things that are outside of your control. Thinking it will help, you focus on things outside of you. But what you’re actually doing is trying to control the difficult feelings inside of you. Sadly, it doesn’t work like that. There's a price to pay for suppression. And it's usually the body that pays it.
Occasionally, the dark days roll in, and like a thick heavy fog descends to block out the light, hope fades. And you hear the quiet whispers of “what if it’s always like this? What if nothing changes? What if this is as good as it gets?
But you refuse to answer those questions. And you just keep going.
The stress, the obligations, the duty and the pain all bear down, but somehow you manage. You manage. one day at a time, one foot in front of the other.
You manage because you know how to escape it. You know how to outrun it. You know how to escape into work. You know how to stuff it all down. And you bandage the struggle and you bandage those wounds with food. You use food, alcohol, sugar, shopping, nice clothes, distractions, holidays, screens and other addictions.
And it helps. It works for a minute. It numbs the quiet ache of loneliness and suffering. It helps ward off the grief. It helps to distance from the dissatisfaction. And it helps to block out the injustices you’ve faced.
I feel beneath your mask. I feel beneath your words. And I feel your hunger is real. You’re depleted. Your energy is thirsty and hungry; almost starving. You’re seeking sustenance and nourishment, but it’s not food you need.
You’re hungry for connection. You’re craving relief. You’re longing for ease. You’re yearning for support. If only someone would understand. If only there was a way to make things better. If only there was a way to create a better future and to fall in love with the present. If only there was a way to ‘edit undo’ the past.
Because sadly, there’s much regret.
You’re not perfect you tell me. You haven’t always been able to present your best self. And if you could do it all over again, you’d take some things back. You’d make better choices. You’d be more gentle with some things, and stronger with others.
I feel how you manage the remorse and how you shove it down. It’s heavy. And so is the guilt that haunts you.
You’re not perfect you tell me.
No one is, I say.
But Struggling Woman, please remember: you’ve learned. I know this to be true because I feel your honesty. I feel your truth and I feel your wisdom. I see how you’re wise now. I know you’ve learned the hard way. No, it wasn’t pleasant, but I know if you could do it again, you’d hold on to some things for longer and you’d let go of others sooner. It’s clear you’ve learned. It’s evident you’ve grown. And I see you’re better. You’ve certainly earned your right to maturity, that’s for sure.
Yet you still struggle.
You say yes when you want to say no. You say you’re ok, when the truth is you’re not. And sometimes you say nothing when really, you just want to speak up. other times you do speak up, and then you realise you should’ve stayed quiet. But the saddest is that you smile when really, you just want to cry.
And sometimes in the quiet moments, the when the hurt and the tears can’t be held back any longer, they can’t help but to spill out.
Because sadly, the unexpressed sorrow you carry has never been witnessed. It’s never had a space to air. It’s never been lovingly held and tended to. It’s never had the compassion and visibility it so longs for. It’s longed for so long that it doesn’t even know what witnessing might look like.
You want me to know you did what you could. You gave what you could. You didn’t always get it right, but your intention was pure. Sometimes you loved too much, other times not enough. Sometimes you held onto hurt for too long and you buried the resentment when really, you should have expressed it and let it go. But you’ve learned now.
Yet still there’s struggle.
You used to be so competent, so sure of things but now the only thing you’re certain of is that you miss being certain. You miss certainty, you miss the ease and the clarity you once had.
Dear Struggling Woman, I know you, I hear you, I see you and I want you to know one very important truth.
The truth about your struggle is,
It’s not your fault.
It’s not your fault you’re struggling.
It’s not your fault things haven’t worked out.
Really hear me when I say, it’s not your fault, it’s not your fault, it’s not your fault!
So stop the self blame.
I’m currently writing a book to help struggling women understand exactly why it’s not their fault, but until it’s completed, please believe me. And please know, I too was Struggling Woman. I struggled for decades.
And now I’m not. The struggle is behind me. I found a solution, so believe me, there IS hope. The future you long for, WILL come.
Because you have the right to good things. You have the right to dream big. You have the right to not compromise. You have the right to not settle for a life less than you desire.
You CAN have life on your terms. You CAN have your needs met. You deserve to be looked after and you deserve to be known and struggle-free.
It takes courage to seek out support and solutions. It takes courage to say no more and to pursue change. It takes courage to reach out for help, so I honour your presence before me.
I know how hard it is, especially when you’re the one who usually gives the support and IS the support, but with me on your team, you’ll learn to receive and you’ll learn to honour your struggle, your courage and yourself.
I’m here to help you, guide you and support you and hold you through it. Reach out, I’ll provide the tools and together we will get you back to empowerment and vitality.