One of the biggest lessons I learned through the “MODE” chapters of my story, was that everyone has “stuff”.

When life is breezing by, when things are comfortable and easy, when our plans are all falling into place, we feel immune to “stuff” – immune to the heartache, troubles and trials that are most certainly a part of life. However when plans, hopes and dreams come crashing down around us, we quickly realize that the calm seas in life are far more of an anomaly then they are the expected norm.

I find it so interesting how we as humans tend to draw inward when faced with adversity. Keeping our struggles private and our pain a secret becomes a quest. Desperately trying to maintain the facade that life is grand and we have it all together consumes our every moment. But sharing our struggles with those close to us, being willing to accept an outstretched hand of compassion, being willing to open our hearts and share our pain brings such a normalcy to our situation.

I’ve never felt that I struggle with depression. I tend to be extremely optimistic, to see the light at the end of every single tunnel and to find a way to pivot and grow in adversity. But the human soul can only bear so much. As I battled through weeks and weeks which turned into months of stress and strain, I found myself losing hope. It was at the pinnacle of this time that I found myself curled up on the couch, completely exhausted and un-interested in socializing at all. Waking up each morning to head into the “battlefield” of decision making, problem solving while constantly jumping through the mine field of ugly conversation and social media bullying,  left me physically exhausted by the end of the day.

For those of you who have gone through a difficult divorce, the loss of a loved one, or an ongoing job search, you know what I mean.

It was at the end of one of these physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting days that I found myself in the fetal position, not willing to utter one more word or muster the energy to think one more thought. I wanted another box of Kleenex and a good Hallmark movie, that’s it. 

That is when my husband told me we were going to go out with friends.

This was the last thing I wanted to do, in fact I fought it for a bit.

But getting up and walking out that door, sitting with that awesome couple while we talked about life in general was exactly what I needed. I needed to see and hear that they have hard “stuff” too. Life at it’s very definition is tough, and it is in getting off the couch and finding the ability to humble yourself enough to share, is what encourages the other person to keep moving forward.

It is amazing how when you listen to others amidst your own struggles quickly creates a heart of empathy and that empathy in turn heals your deepest wounds.

We were meant to struggle through life in community, and the first step to that is fully understanding that your “stuff” is what gives you the compassion to help others through theirs.

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