Life will be good again.
But right now, maybe it doesn’t feel like it.
I once was despairing. I had been through years of health issues, fertility treatments, and frustration with my lot in life. I came home from work every day and cried. I drove to my doctor’s office and cried. I had consistently bad news from my doctor and cried harder on the long drive home. I was drained and life didn’t look like it would improve any time soon.
One night, I chatted with my high school friend Sadie, whom I had not seen in at least a decade but had kept up with online. I opened up to her a bit, which was huge for me because I had spoken to almost no one about my current struggles. She gave no unsolicited advice others had offered (“Have you considered adoption?” “I think you should just give up and then you will get pregnant.”) Instead, she told me she thought what I was going through must be terrible, and she listened. But I will never forget Sadie’s words to me:
“It’s okay to feel how you feel.”
Her words were a balm to my aching soul. I was angry, but I had never admitted I was angry. When I had tried to speak to my friends about my struggles, I felt guilty and as though I was burdening them. They were uncomfortable, not having any idea what to tell me and not wanting to say the wrong thing. I had wanted to be heard but not to feel more awkward, so I stuffed away my emotions and my anger grew.
Life went on and my struggles continued, but for the first time I gave myself permission to mourn my losses and to admit how I was feeling. I wanted children, I wanted a job I was passionate about, and I wanted peace and order and a place that felt like home. None of those things were happening despite my best efforts, and it was impacting my entire life. To pretend it wasn’t happening wasn’t helping anyone. I was adding stress upon stress upon stress and the cork was about to pop.
During that time, I wrote this: “I got a call this week that another friend is pregnant, and everyone is rejoicing. Truthfully, I just feel like someone jumped in line in front of me again. Another friend started trying to conceive after me, already has two children, and is finished. In the scheme of things, I know it doesn’t matter. But it hurts, and I’m sick of acting like it doesn’t.”
Sadie told me my admission didn’t make me a bitter person, it just made me a person. “Sometimes things just suck and no amount of rainbows and sunshine change that,” she said.
And so, I gave myself permission to be frustrated when I was frustrated.
I understood how to be happy when I was happy.
I learned it was okay to tell God I was angry with Him, that I didn’t understand the plan, and that I was fed up with hearing there was a plan. And I learned it wasn’t showing a lack of faith to admit something felt wrong in my life.
If you know someone who is struggling, you don’t have to try to solve their problem. Listen, and give them permission to accept their emotions.
Because it is okay to feel how you feel.