May is motherhood memoir month

Permission to Struggle

It’s okay to struggle. painting by L.Lyn Greenstone

Give yourself permission to struggle, Char, the Pilates instructor says. She also says things like, it’s okay to wobble. I never see her wobble, and none of the HIIT Pilates moves we do seem a struggle for her strong body, but I trust she knows what she’s talking about. As I take in her words, something settles within, allowing me to focus and be okay with weakness.

So I take this bit of wisdom home, mull it over as I write this memoir. I’m struggling with organization, structure, and cohesiveness–all things I shouldn’t worry about right now. But I want to name all 31 chapters, know more about where I’m going, what the stops along the way will look like, and how I’m going to get there.

It turns out writing isn’t like that for me. It is always a surprise journey. Giving myself permission to struggle helps me relax about the mess, sends me back in to untangle what I’ve written so far, name one chapter, trust the rest will come.

Are you struggling? Don’t beat yourself up, and don’t run away. Especially don’t reach for something edible to numb the feelings that come with struggling. Don’t drink your feelings away either. They’ll still be there tomorrow, with a headache possibly. Instead, sit with them, write with them. Uncover them and bare them to yourself and whoever else you can.

This is the journey. It’s sometimes a struggle. And that’s okay.

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