Andrea goes on an Arduous Journey.

There are some years we can look back on and count our blessings easily. We can give the past year a big hug and thank it for it’s kindness. No years are perfect, but some come with marriages, babies, graduations, new love, new homes, new friends, new adventures, peace, joy, and fulfillment.
Other years we bid farewell by taking it out to a field and “Office Spacing” it’s behind. This past year was so hard I had to go to the thesaurus to find a word that summed up how I feel about it.
I found arduous.
adjective: arduous
1. involving or requiring strenuous effort; difficult and tiring.
“an arduous journey”
synonyms: onerous, taxing, difficult, hard, heavy, laborious, burdensome, strenuous, vigorous, back-breaking;
demanding, tough, challenging, formidable;
exhausting, tiring, punishing, grueling;
uphill, steep;
“an arduous journey”
YES. Our year did have some highlights. My husband FINALLY graduated with his Bachelor’s of Social Work. For that I am SO proud and thankful. We DID settle into our new home and are very content.
But in turn we have experienced more than our share of grief, strife, and challenges.
My year began with a concussion. I slipped on ice and my head hit the car door. A minor concussion, but this past year it became the monitor for my stress. As soon as I got tense, my head would start to throb at the injury site. Even today I was nursing it along.
A few weeks later we lost a dear friend. I can’t even type a follow up sentence for that. I can’t put words to that pain.
A few weeks after that, we decided not to adopt our foster son and in response were met with harshness I did not expect. Sometimes we don’t know how much we love someone until they are withheld from us.
Both losses left our family grieving and processing to this day. My dearest 4-year-old still asks to go play with him. I can meet her where she is at, but still have to turn my head to collect my tears.
We sold our first home and experienced difficulty and set back after set back in the process of selling and buying. We came within 1 day of losing our foster daughter who has been with us since birth because our housing had been delayed. All out of our control.
My parents put my childhood home up for sale and even today I was pipe dreaming of ways I could afford to purchase it…
One of my children was diagnosed with letters this year and while he is thriving thanks to a great school, great teachers, and great therapists, every day is a battle.
On top of handling what I have mentioned plus more I cannot share, I took on the battle to heal my own self. I was promptly diagnosed with Trauma which is the capstone on a pyramid of other diagnosis. I’ve spent the year in therapy forging ARDUOUSLY through sludge that only even a few know about in order to create a better future for myself and my family.
This is the tip of the iceberg. There are so many things I cannot share… or am not ready to share.
We set new mottos and New Year’s goals…
But my goal this year was just to survive.
My motto was, “It’s not fair.”
I mean for Pete’s Sake!
I can’t even celebrate the New Year because my husband is asleep with “The Man Flu!”
I don’t have a motto or a goal for the New Year for 2019.
I have this. A message from one of my very closest kindred spirits I received this evening.
“Thank you for working so hard to be here.”
That’s it. That’s how I am closing out my New Year.
Because some years it’s all fluff, frosting and unicorns.
And other years it’s an arduous journey to Mordor that leaves our souls depleted, thin, flickering and scathed. We never recover. We move on and it’s just… different.
There are going to be a lot of articles, blogs, vlogs, journals etc… that have a happy, excited, fresh, vivacious tone to them around these next few weeks.
This note is for the rest of us.
The one’s crawling through the finish line…
Or being pushed.
Or just sitting there stagnant.
I don’t even have hope for the New Year. I got nothin’.
What I have is simply the knowledge to those of us shuffling into this year are not alone.
Whether it’s loss, illness, failure, legal troubles, threats, mental illness, or simply just being beaten down…
And for you I want to tell you two things.
#1: I know this pain. There have been so many moments this year where I shake my head and think, “What else?” I didn’t just feel like, I WAS checking off things on some sort of sick, twisted, evil bucket list of shitty things to experience or walk through before I die. For the first time, I really understood Job. (I REFUSE to compare here. If you experienced a sucky year… no matter what it was… STOP saying things like, “I could have had it worse…” Don’t you EVER take away your own humanity like that.)
So. I know this pain… or I know something similar. If I have to walk through more this year so at the end of 2019 I have a greater group of people I can be in the trenches with, than so be it.My Trauma, OCD and Enneagram (whatever the hell that is), say that I focus on MAX EFFICIENCY. So I might as well help as many people as I can while I’m alive. If it means going to hell and back…I’ll go to war for you. So I can simply hold your hand, place the other on your shoulder, look you in the eye and tell you, “I know this pain.” We are in this together.
#2: “Thank you for working so hard to be here.”
You did it. If tonight as the ball drops if you are still in the midst of despair. If you are sad. If you are alone. If you feel alone. If you are depressed. If you are grieving. If you are just “meh.” If you are addicted. If you are mentally ill. If you are struggling in any way. Even if your finger is quite literally on the trigger or holding the pills to commit suicide…
Listen to me…
Listen to my friend.
Thank you for working so hard to be here.
You are here.
And that my friend is a victory. Possibly the biggest one. I’m not going to try to woo you with sayings like, “There is someone out there who needs you.” Or “Your life has purpose.”
You know. All those lines they feed you on the hotlines…
Just focus on this one thing.
YOU worked hard to be here.
And so far. You are still here.
That’s a victory.
My year was arduous.
My soul feels it.
My body feels it.
My marriage feels it.
My kids feel it.
My friends feel it.
But I worked hard to be here.
And in 2019… I’m going to make that count.
– Your Mental Health Trauma Momma
(See look. I’m here. Some Selfies are worth taking.)

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