Lately I feel like I’m on some kind of hellish teeter-totter. I read self-help books and see people, like me, who’ve dragged themselves up through adversity: depression, debt, miserable working conditions and found success and happiness. They make it look sooooo easy. The book or the blog makes it seem like just one little change can drastically improve the outcome. And in many cases, that’s true. Sometimes it IS just a tiny change that makes the difference, but more often it takes far more than that. And I fall into the hope that if I make a similar change, my life will drastically improve, too. But too often my case is the one that requires far more work. The problem is the soul-crushing disappointment that follows when the small change doesn’t pan out. It often sucks away all ability and energy to make the grander changes necessary.
Or, the person who makes it through adversity does so because they have a solid support network to help them through it. I don’t have that. My family has never been one to discuss personal problems, and the underlying philosophy is, “Whatever the problem is, suck it up and move on.” In other words, “suffer in silence.” So I’ve learned not to share my personal problems with others and I have a real problem trying to open up, even to the extent that I can’t open up to professionals who’s job it is to listen to my problems. So I don’t have the support system that these other people used to get through their dark times.
So I teeter-totter. I read about these successes and I am filled with hope that I can succeed, too. I so desperately want my life to be happier, to have friends and family I can rely on, to do a job I love and not have to worry about money all the time. But, no matter what I read or what I try to do, it’s never enough. Things don’t work out. And that’s when the teeter-totter sinks. I fall to the earth with a bang, convinced things will never get better. And each time I land I swear I’ll never rise again.
But that’s just not me. I can’t stay down. But I’m scared to rise. I’m scared to hope. I’m scared to fall down again. Because each time I fall, it hurts just a little more. I bounce just a little less. I fear I’m rapidly coming to the point when I won’t be able to rise back up, when bitterness and cynicism take over and I stay stuck on the earth. That’s when I will need someone who can pull me back up. And I don’t think I have it. My husband is often in the same boat as I, and to switch the metaphor, when the boat finally tips I think we’ll just drag each other under. But I have kids and so I will fight and tread water for as long as I can, for their sake. But I fear going under. I fear giving up and becoming just an empty shell. I fear what it will do to them, and even more I fear what it will mean for me. Because I never expected this. I don’t know how to deal with it. And I need someone who can help.