Struggling? Read This: My Open Letter

Facebook memories is a blessing and a curse. It reminds us of all that has happened – good, bad, ugly and hideous. It was mine that inspired this post.

Four years ago, I was a student at Newcastle College. Because of an argument with one classmate over how I did so well on my coursework, none of the group would talk to me. My son had been sleeping two hours a night for two months, and Jack hadn’t seen his dad for more than two nights in that period. In the hours where I was awake, I was downloading Makaton apps (Makaton is a form of signing used with children to encourage communication) and trying to figure out which words to prioritise. I wanted my non-verbal child to communicate.

Three years ago, I was two months into grieving for my grandmother who died quite suddenly. I had taken a year out of university to support my son and deal with everything that was going on. I had no money, because I had quit my job owing to my boss being a total bully and forcing me to the end of my tether. While I wasn’t suicidal, I was very low, struggling to see a future for Jack and I. The debts were mounting.

Two years ago, I was in a dead end relationship with someone Auntie Mary fondly nicknamed “Dickhead”. He used me for food, board and lodgings. He was indifferent towards Jack, but he was downright unkind to me at times. He even told me that it’s not like I’d ever do better than him, which reeked of “You’re disabled so nobody will want you”. I had no idea worse was to come. Worse that, within the space of a sentence, would result in me telling him to get out and never come back 9 months later.

One year ago, I was just getting back with Bryan. While this was awesome, I was in a dark place, awaiting the surgery that would leave me bedridden, confined to the house, while I piled on weight and fell into a permanent pity party.

Today, however, I write a different story. Due to a series of happy circumstances, hard work, and sheer luck, I feel as though I can finally say “I’ve got it all”. I don’t have debt. I have a nice home. Jack and Bryan are AMAZING! I’m walking much better and with less pain a lot of the time. I’ve lost weight (10.5lbs to date) and I’ve been sitting outside in the sun and listening to music. Yesterday I read Linda Green’s The Last Thing She Told Me cover to cover!

So much can change!

For anyone who is struggling as I have struggled, or dealing with far worse, just keep going. Take each day, each hour, as it comes. Today, you might have nothing. You may be cold, hungry, depressed, abused, or worrying how you’re going to feed your kids and keep the lights on. You may be unwell, acutely or chronically, or you may just feel lonely. You may be struggling with a whole host of problems.

I have four things to say to you.

  1. It will get better. There is always a way for a situation to improve. If you aren’t sure how right now, that’s OK. All my readers are friends and if you need to reach out and ask me for advice, I’m here. On my worst days, I didn’t reach out and I wish I had. Sometimes, just hearing someone say ‘It will get better’ really helps.
  2. You are the instrument of your success. Nothing will be handed to you. You must be the one who makes the change. Say it: “Enough is enough.”
  3. Cover the basics, short term at least. Eat, be warm, be clothed. If you need help, there are agencies who can give you a hand. Live a good life, with good morals, ethics and values. Teach your kids things that are free: the value of hard work, humility, how to help around the house. Even if you have nothing, you can still raise a child right.
  4. Just do your best. Make small changes, one at a time. Maintain a routine no matter what, and even if you feel you have nothing to get up for.

As Yossi Graber says in the 1987 adaptation of Beauty and the Beast: “Having isn’t permanent, and losing isn’t permanent.”

I got myself out of a dark place, but I didn’t do it alone. Following the tone of most of my posts – it takes a village. If you don’t have a village, or you’re reading this and you just need to talk to someone, ***I AM HERE FOR YOU*** even if you feel nobody else is.

It doesn’t happen overnight. I had some very dark years before things got better. But it does get better, for you too.

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