The other day in Mommy & Me class the teacher talked to us about letting our kids try and try again, even if they were struggling and also if they were failing. She said kids need to develop their “struggle muscles.” I can appreciate this concept, as it relates to children. Doing things for them just because they may be having a tough time accomplishes little. They need to learn to try, and to keep on trying. Even when they’re frustrated. Especially when they are frustrated. They also need to learn that just because they failed to do something they were attempting it doesn’t mean they should stop trying. Kids need to develop their struggle muscles, no question. But what about adults?
I admit I’ve been struggling a lot lately with repeatedly trying to accomplish the same task (Hello, job world, I’m talking to you). After awhile, it’s more than just frustrating. Despair sets in, and when that happens, I find it hard to move at all. I become exhausted before even taking the next logical step. But here’s the thing: I’m not a child, and I have struggled a lot in my life. I’d go as far as to say I’ve struggled more than most. If there is a muscle in my body that should be fit and strong, it’s my struggle muscle. My struggle muscle should feel free to enter itself in the Struggle Muscle Olympics, because there comes a point at which all you can do is look at what life’s handed you and think, “Really?!? How is it possible that I haven’t gone through enough yet?” But really, maybe the Struggle Muscle Olympics aren’t for me, because I’m pretty sure my struggle muscle is recoiling at the thought of competition. It needs a break.
I think the 365 Days of Gratitude experiment serves a purpose, and there’s nothing wrong with encouraging yourself to focus on gratitude rather than problems. But when you’re in the thick of really, really difficult life stuff, it becomes something of a strain. I begin to feel almost like I’m faking it. It isn’t that I’m not grateful for the things that make it into my posts, because obviously I am. But there have been days this month where gratitude has been far from the forefront for me, days in which I’m in so much pain all I want to do is rail at the universe. I’ve been dealing with frequent insomnia as result of all the stress, and I like awake at night with my stomach tying itself in knots. It’s been bad enough I actually have wondered if I was going to throw up, more than once. But it’s hard to juxtapose gratitude-related posts with posts about fear and anguish and things falling apart. It feels awkward. I don’t want my blog to be nothing but a repository for doom and gloom. That asks a lot of the people reading it. Too much. There needs to be light along with the dark, but what happens when there’s little light available? There are days on which I feel so terrible that coming up with a gratitude post is more than difficult, it’s almost disingenuous.
All I’m saying is that I’d have no trouble with letting my struggle muscle get a little flabby. Hear me, universe?