Lately, I’ve seen so many family and friends go on and on about how “rough” their life is. How they need to take a break and rest from life. How thy don’t know how they can go on, blah blah blah. And while I have found myself saying the same thing, many times more than I’d like to think about, I’ve had to snap myself back into reality and really evaluate what the term “rough” means. It can mean so many things to so many people.
Take for example the married working mom with several children. She works full-time and has to be a mother to her children and keep up her home. She has help at every turn, however, with family helping her all the time, friends offering to babysit so she can go out with her husband on a date night or even a weekend away. She has a partner to help in the cooking and cleaning and child rearing responsibilities as well as to provide an additional income. She has someone to “back her up” on decisions and whatever life throws her way. She’s not alone. But, she often complains how her life is so rough and needs constant breaks to regroup and whatnot. Sure, life is rough in her opinion, and sometimes, it very well can be.
But let’s compare that to another scenario.
A full-time working, single mom with several children. She has no spouse to lean on for the tough times. She can’t find reliable or trustworthy babysitting and has no family in the area to help her out in a bind. She is solely responsible for maintaining her home. She’s the only one that cooks, cleans, does the dishes. She’s the only one filling up the car with gas on a cold, rainy day. She’s the only one paying the bills and living paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet. She’s the one that goes without all the time so that her children don’t have to. She’s the one that spends whatever “extra” money she might have one given pay period on her children and forgoes getting herself something. Going out with a significant other or friends is a novelty and finding time for herself is constant battle. She often says that her life is rough, but more often than not, most would also say (in my findings) that even though, pardon the expression, “the struggle is real”, it’s worth it.
Which scenario resonates with you more? Which person can you find yourself identifying with on a personal basis?
I will tell you this. I have been BOTH of these women. I have experienced these scenarios, almost to a “T”. And even though you may read this and say to me, “You don’t know me! You don’t know how bad I have it and how things are just so stressful and such” and you’re right. I don’t know YOU. But I DO know your struggles. All of them.
In my short life of almost 40 years (yikes, I hate typing that out!), I have been through enough to stop anyone in their tracks, in my humble opinion.
- My parents were divorced when I was 8 and I grew up with my sister and my single mom. I know the struggles of children watching their parents sacrifice everything so that they can have a better life. I know what it’s like to not have Christmas because money just isn’t there. I know what it’s like to have churches bring you food baskets so you can have meals. I get that.
- I was raped when I was in my 20’s. I had something very traumatizing happen and I’ve been able to move past that and even write about it to work on gaining closure (http://www.cincinnati.com/story/opinion/contributors/2016/01/29/breaking-silence-rape-survivors-story/79525890/).
- I was married for 10 years. I had help from family. I had a big circle of friends who would help on a moments notice. I lived pretty comfortably and didn’t want for much.
- I’ve dealt with fertility issues. I was told that I might not ever be able to have children. I have suffered a miscarriage, losing twin girls early on in my pregnancy. When I did finally get pregnant, I was considered high risk and was monitored closely.
- I’ve had to have 21 surgeries in my life. Not because I’m inherently clumsy and inflict these surgeries on myself (mostly lol), but I’ve run the gamut of health issues from since childhood from major hearing and inner ear issues to tumors to infertility and miscarriage to carpal tunnel to an eventual early hysterectomy at 33 years old. I have scars that tell stories you’ll never have to experience, ever.
- I almost died from an allergic reaction to medication. I was in the hospital 3 days while they tried to stabilize my body and hydrate me enough to be able to function again.
- I’ve been through a bankruptcy and 2 foreclosed houses. My credit was destroyed and I’ve had to learn the real meaning of money and the implications it carries with it.
- I’ve been through a divorce. I’ve been through the sting and pain of that life being ripped away from me.
- I’m now the single mom, struggling to get by some weeks, without much of a social circle and no family in town to back me up. I’ve had negative in the bank, I’ve been taken advantage of, I’ve been hurt time and time again.
And yes, I complain. I have my moments when I just want to run and hide and just give up. I rant and I rave and sometimes harbor bitterness against those that have a “better” life. But then reality slaps me in the face. To some people out there, I am the one with the “better” life. I am the one that really has it good in comparison.
I have a good job and have been with my company 10 years. I have health insurance, albeit not the best, but considering how many surgeries I’ve had to have, I am blessed to have any kind of coverage. My kids have never gone hungry. I may have skipped some meals in the beginning of my struggles, but hey, a few pounds lost is a positive outcome from that. I’ve had my struggles financially due to my bankruptcy and I’ve not been able to afford a new car or get a credit card, but at least I have money in my bank account and can pay my bills. I get a minimal amount of child support, but that’s also more than many parents receive. I’ve learned the value of a dollar and have also been able to instill those lessons in my children. They realize that money is tight and we don’t always get to do the things they want, but they’ve also come to see that what I can give them, I give with my whole heart and they know when I’ve made a sacrifice and have become more appreciative of it.
I don’t get to go out much. I don’t get to have weekends away or trips out of town for a concert or get theater tickets every time I want to. When it’s my days to have my boys, I have my boys. I plan my life around my boys and our crazy schedule and I deal with it. My kids are my miracle babies, my rainbow babies, my world. I miss them when they are with their dad and sneak into their bedroom at times just to smell their pillows so I can get through the rough times. I don’t pass them off to someone any chance I get so that I can do something I want to. There will be time for those things later in life.
Here’s some ways to really put into perspective what is “rough” and what is “selfish”.
You have healthy children, no fertility issues and can get pregnant at the drop of a hat. You flaunt your pregnancies and go on and on about it. You complain that you have it rough because your feet are swollen and you’re getting uncomfortable in your own skin. Believe me, I’ve been there.
Your friend, sister, cousin, whomever it may be, is struggling with fertility issues. She’s had multiple miscarriages, has had to stick needles into herself on a daily basis just to have a chance of getting pregnant and still has not been able to get pregnant. The heartache each month that she’s trying to get pregnant and isn’t starts to really wear on her and the constant buzzing of pregnancies around her are a lot to handle.
I’m not saying that you should tiptoe around her and not complain and live your life and be happy about the new life forming inside of you, but know this. When they don’t jump up and down with joy for your announcement, or if they keep to themselves about your news, don’t take it as a move of jealousy. Don’t get upset at them and get angry that they aren’t happy for you. In all honesty, most of them ARE happy for you. They might just need some time to process the hurt they are feeling because it’s not them. Give them space, give them time, let them come to terms with this in their own way. DO NOT get mad at them for their feelings. You have NO idea what they are going through, none. And until you can truly come to their level of both grief and excitement, please do not say that they are wrong.
Also, when you say things have been rough at home, and you need to get away, think twice about that. I am in no way negating your feelings and that you very well may have experienced rough times. Believe me, I get it. But try to look at others and see how your life compares. Look at the single mom or dad who are unable get away ever or have the money to buy many groceries. They haven’t been able to take a vacation in several years due to their financial struggles and responsibilities. Look at the stay-at-home mom or dad who carry the burden of maintaining the house on their own each and every day. Look at the married couple who struggle financially and live in a state far away from family and can’t get babysitting to even have a date night to reconnect with each other.
You think you have it rough? Maybe you do. But do this next time you are complaining about how hard your life is and how you just need time to get away and rest. Are there family or friends you know that are burned out because of having to live their life a different way than you? Are you taking for granted all the positives you have in your life and just dwelling on the negatives, therefore dwelling on what needs to be “fixed”?
I’ll be honest, I try to hide my struggles a lot of the time. I got my game face on, and you won’t see me complain (much) or very rarely shed a tear. Is it because I’m cold and heartless? Hell no! I’m an emotional wreck just as much as the next person. But I’ve also learned (and am still in the constant state of learning actually) where and when to voice my struggles. I try to step back and visualize how others would perceive my situation. Is it REALLY as bad as I think? Do I honestly have it as rough as I seem to think it is? Probably not. Of course, it doesn’t negate my feelings and I would never want to have someone judge my feelings as they are MY feelings to have. But in all reality, I have it good. My life, in all of it’s good and bad glory, is pretty decent. I have a roof over my head, my bills get paid, I have reliable transportation, I have healthy active children who are the light of my life and love with no boundaries, and I’m happy. Of course, I’m not perfect and It’s human nature to find something negative amidst the positive, but I’m making an active CHOICE to be happy.
My life is rough. My life is hard. My struggles are real and constant. But look at the alternatives. It could be much, much worse, and for that, I’ll take and embrace my “rough” life, any day!