I’ve been overwhelmed, tired, and frustrated quite a bit lately. I’m going to be honest and straightforward with you. Life is hard. And when you are a highly empathetic, sensitive and codependent (definition: tending to decide it’s your job to fix everyone else’s problems) individual, you can “feel the feels” in a large way when the hard stuff collides all at once. I’ve heard a saying, “You are only as happy as your most unhappy child”. This one sits with me, but it’s not just about my kids. It’s about my husband, my sisters, my uncle, my aunt, my cousin, my friends, my co-workers, my students, the lady in the grocery parking lot with three toddlers and a cart full of groceries....I tend to let all their needs and hurts influence my take on life. But, in my ripe “old” age of having just turned 52, I am seeing that I need to, as they say in the airplane safety drills, “put on my own oxygen mask first”.
This blog was created upon the notion of when people ask you, “How are you?”, and you absently, quickly, or avoidantly answer, “I’m fine, thanks.” Well, most days, in one way or another most of us can find something to be “not-so-fine” about. We turn on the tv news and there is no good news to be found. Our car suddenly displays a new “squeaky sound”, and we learn there is yet another $500 repair to be made (why is it always $500?!?!). Our child is struggling with a deep hurt that we have no tools to fix. The flu is going around again. There is yet another winter storm predicted and we’re just plain tired of shoveling, and the salt stains on our shoes!
Ok, enough depressing topics, let’s get back to that oxygen mask! Like I said, every single day can bring us something that threatens to drive us right to the couch with a carton of ice cream topped with crushed Oreos and a side of white wine, while we decide what to binge on Netflix. Some days, that plan of action feels like it is an oxygen mask. I’ve been there, but it isn’t a lasting solution. When things get hard, often people say, “You just need to get over it and move on”. That really doesn’t work for me. As a long-time “stuffer”, I have found that stuffing my feelings or my challenges into an avoidance place becomes the opposite of an oxygen mask. It becomes an untreated wound that surfaces unexpectedly and in very unhealthy ways.
Over the past several years, I have learned a lot about looking hard things in the eye and walking THROUGH them. In the through, we can learn and grow, and find out how to use those challenges and times of suffering to give them meaning and purpose. In his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning”, Victor Frankl (who spent time in a concentration camp), says, “we must never forget that we may also find meaning in life even when confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed.” He says, “When we are no longer able to change a situation-just think of an incurable disease such as inoperable cancer-we are challenged to change ourselves.” That is some serious stuff right there! But as I’ve learned as a lifetime co-dependent, that’s all we can do is to change ourselves, to take care of, strengthen and improve ourselves and our own perspectives.
There are so many rich resources out there to begin the journey of self-care, beginning with the words of God as written in the Bible. The Bible is rich with stories and proclamations of how worthy you are, as a child of the God of the universe who knows every hurt, challenge or hurdle we can encounter. I bring this up because self-care can sound like a lonely task. It is not. God knows, and He can provide an endless supply of knowledge, wisdom, resources and tenderness when we seek it. He provides us “angels in our midst”, in the form of people who deliver messages of love, support, accountability and wisdom. He provides practitioners who have given their lives to become therapists, psychiatrists, yoga instructors, pastors, spiritual advisors, physical trainers etc. who offer us tools to get healthy in our hearts, minds and bodies. He provides community, such as this one, Better Than Fine, which we hope is a safe place to come and feel love, acceptance, and safety to be less than fine. I have also found some great online resources and books that have been sources of growth, deepening and courage for me. Ladies, I love you. I know you hurt sometimes. That’s going to happen for sure. But I encourage you (I recently heard that to encourage is to “give courage”) to take a leap of faith and reach out, one way or another, to “put on your oxygen mask” so that when you feel better, you can use the gifts and talents and experiences you have walked THROUGH for the sake of helping others, to the glory of our great God.
With lots and lots of love and empathy for you,
Below, I am listing a few resources that have been particularly helpful to me lately:
● “It’s Not Supposed to be This Way”, by Lisa Terkheurst
● “When the Heart Waits”, by Sue Monk Kidd
● “Start with Amen”, by Beth Guckenberger
● “Begin Again”, by Leeana Tankersley
● Show Up with Natalie Norton
● The Next Right Thing with Emily P Freeman
● Therapy & Theology by Proverbs 31 Ministries
● Terrible, Thanks for Asking
Instagram Accounts to Follow
● @Cairebidwellsmith (grief)
● @tanksgoodnews (daily dose of positivity)