Are You Addicted to Struggling?

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Growing up, several disappointments caused me to construct a wall around myself to dull the impact of any future letdowns. For a long time, that wall was my Employee of the Year, never calling in sick or sleeping on the job. I programmed myself to believe that happy times were earned by bad experiences and if something good were to happen, then impending disaster waited around the corner for me, ready to pounce at a moment’s notice. But what I thought was a stealthy source of protection actually dismantled my ability to embrace blessings and happy moments in my life. This may sound insane, but I’ve come to realize that I’m addicted to struggling. Yep, the support group, 12-step program type of addiction.

In December, I finally had my first paid piece published on xoJane and Clutch. Looking through an old list from 2010 reminded me that this goal had been a long time coming. But I barely acknowledged the fact that I accomplished my goal because I was worrying about hypothetical backlash from my family and inconsequential opinions of complete strangers. I couldn’t resist manufacturing a struggle instead of simply enjoying my moment.

Before I quit my 9-5 to pursue writing full-time, I envisioned my last day on the job as a par-tayyyy filled with celebratory Tuaca shots that would leave me doing carpet angels in the middle of my living room floor. Instead, my struggle mentality lured me into stressing over whether I’d be able to make a living writing and wondering to myself how long my husband would  support me before this idealistic “chasing my dream” notion got old.

Ever since I can recall, I dreamed of traveling to Hawaii. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to visit two islands during my honeymoon. One day, between winding around curves on Maui’s beautiful Road to Hana, and snapping pictures of waterfalls and seaside cliffs, I became overwhelmed with a feeling of not belonging, like I didn’t deserve to be there.

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Our Beautiful View of the Road to Hana

My husband looked confused and told me, “Our money spends just like everyone else here. You wanted to see Hawaii, didn’t you? Just take it in and enjoy it,” he said, reminding me that this was something I’d been blabbing his ears off about since we met.  In fact, his only wedding-planning duties were to show up to the ceremony showered, with a fresh haircut and the Hawaiian trip plane tickets in hand…or else :)

I look back on the beautiful photos like the one above and I could kick myself for not getting out of my head and just embracing what should have been a moment of pure joy! Sure, some pretty effed up stuff happened in the past. But today my increased level of  self-understanding tells me that not every moment has to involve a struggle.

Meanwhile, I’m working on de-programming my debilitating train of thought by celebrating victories, big and small.  The end goal is to learn to fully relax and let the sunshine from happy moments flood my insides. Doing just that has been–you guessed it–yet another struggle, but I refuse to settle. Truth is, I’ve been about that struggling life for far too long and I’m finally ready to sober up.

Does anyone else find themselves struggling to embrace the good times?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo credit: jcurtis4082 via photopin cc

photo#2 credit: KG-Edits

10 thoughts on “Are You Addicted to Struggling?”

  1. Great post! I’ve also had struggles in the past and I always told myself they made me stronger, but I can see where I developed an attitude where I believed everything had to be a struggle in order for it to mean anything and that is so not true! :)

  2. Thanks! That’s exactly how I’ve been feeling, but sometimes you just have to relax and enjoy the accomplishment. Thanks for reading!

  3. Hi KG….I just followed your link over from the SITS Girls linkup and yours caught my eye–because I am a KG too! However, I wouldn’t say that “editing” was my strongest suit ;-) I am very happy to say that I have learned over the course of my life to let go of most struggle–I say most because as you say it can be a little sneaky. But mostly I realize that the way I think about things can largely determine what happens. Besides, I also enjoy a good party and will celebrate just about anything. As long as I keep that in mind I normally celebrate any success and that tends to keep me focused on those things that bring me joy. ~Kathy

  4. I certainly understand this. I always get like that after unfortunate events happen and then it takes a while to find my way back to the realization that good isn’t punished with bad.

  5. Hi Jean…It can take a while to recover and in the process you can miss out on appreciating some really good moments. I’ve been literally writing down the good moments from each day to help me stay focused. Thx for reading/commenting!

  6. The year after I graduated from university was really stressful. I’m back in school getting a second (more employable) degree, but I still have to tell myself that I don’t need to anticipate failure around every corner. All I can do is my best and that’s good enough.

  7. Hi Anthea! Thx for reading! Yesss to your comment. That’s exactly what I was trying to convey w/this post. Even though logically I know this is what’s necessary to get through, it’s tough to break that pattern of expecting the worse. Good luck w/school! I’m sure your best is definitely enough :-)

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