"Struggling" is a concept that we don't often like to accept in society. When asked how we're doing (and I'm guilty of this too), we say without hesitation, "good, how are you?". We like these words because they're safe. We don't want to admit failure, brokenness, pain or struggle because society has taught us that those things are all negative. I'm here to tell you, struggle is REAL and it's okay. Not only does life fit the 2015-2016 overly-tweeted phrase, "The struggle is real" but also struggle is a REAL part of life. There is no possible way not to struggle. Life, as much as we want to force it to be, is not perfect. This was a really harsh reality for me 3 years ago. I thought that once I completed treatment, I was supposed to be perfectly fine the instant I walked out the door. So when I relapsed (not once-but countless times), I was angry. I didn't understand why I couldn't just have it all together. Everyone else seemed to have it all together, so why couldn't I have it too? B answered my question 3 years ago just as beautifully as she answered it on Wednesday. She said, struggle does not equal failure. I repeat, struggle does NOT equal failure. That is such a relieving statement. Struggle is a part of life and it does not equate to worthlessness or weakness, but it simply means that you're human. You are still worthy when you struggle. You are still loved when you struggle. You are still strong when you struggle. To be honest, I have struggled with ED (my eating disorder) several times this semester and even more times this year. In fact, WEDNESDAY I struggled with it. ED is manipulative and tricky and likes to spit manipulative lies into my head and that happened on Wednesday as I was getting dressed. ED told me that I looked fat and that I needed to look as skinny as possible otherwise people wouldn't like me. Because ED made the act of getting dressed so much more difficult and so much longer (it took me an entire hour to get dressed) he then made me late-and if you know me, you know that I HATE being late. I actually can't stand being late, it gives me actual anxiety. So therefore, thanks to ED and all of his crappiness, I was probably a 9 on the 10-point scale of anxiety, meaning that I was near an anxiety attack. I experience anxiety a lot but I haven't had that much anxiety in a while and so even the fact that I was experiencing so much anxiety made me axious. Clearly, anxiety is a real thing. I could feel it coming. My chest started to tighten, my arms started to tingle and I began to shut down. That my friends, is the beginning of an anxiety attack (or at least how it works for me). So I sat in those feelings for probably 15 minutes. I sat in those feelings at what felt like the bottom of the staircase and I processed them. I took time to decipher and understand each and every thought and feeling I was having-and then I started the rising. I started deep breathing. One long painful breath in, one breath of renewal out. I told myself this was validated and that these feelings were allowed. I reminded myself that ED isn't worth it. He's not worth me giving any part of my life to him. I looked at myself in the mirror and said, "Hey warrior, you're not a failure-you're a fighter." And then I texted B and she told me those beautiful words. Words that I'm passing onto you because you're worthy of those words too. You're worthy of a lot of things. Even when, and especially when, you're worthy. You are worthy of love. You are worthy enough. You are simply enough. Just because days are harder than others, just because struggle is involved in your day, does NOT mean you're a failure. It's OKAY not to be okay. Struggling does not make you weak and it does not mean that you're doing something wrong-it simply means you're learning. Life is a continual learning and growing process-I've once heard it described as a staircase. Sometimes life knocks us down a couple stairs, and EVEN IF we hit the bottom of the staircase (trust me, I've been there-I'm with you), there is always the rising. There is always another stair to climb, another chance. So even when struggle happens and life knocks you down a couple stairs, you always have the chance to climb back up. YOU are a fighter-not a failure. Give yourself grace to fall because through your rising, you will grow. As B said, "You have worked so hard.". Yes YOU. You have worked so hard-keep fighting.
(p.s.-B is my beautiful, selfless, compassionate, monarch butterfly best friend who is changing the world with her genuineness. she's the best best friend and sister ever.)