What I learned through a recent difficult season that every woman needs to know.
In mid-July, I was on my game. I had been a full-time SAH/WFH mom for a month and had a new schedule that I loved. I had goals. I had plans. I was getting stuff done.
And then in early August, it all came to a crashing halt.
Why, you ask?
Because I was suddenly hit with intense nausea, near-daily vomiting (sorry), and extreme fatigue. The kind that made it hard to summon the energy to do anything and left my brain stubbornly resistant to any kind of creative thinking. And it’s been that way for the last 9 weeks.
Yes, that’s right — I’m PREGNANT with baby #3!
And while we are all over-the-moon excited about the news, it did come with some not-so-fun side effects. 😉
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I should have expected it and planned for it. I mean, it wasn’t exactly a surprise. And I had told myself before I got pregnant that I would continue to do all the things I had been doing. I would suck it up and push through.
Well … I had completely underestimated how much this first trimester would knock me on my behind. Worse than the other two by far. And try as I might (and I tried!), I could not keep up my usual pace.
And I felt so guilty and inadequate and discouraged.
But as humbling and frustrating as these last couple months have been, they have also been so good for me, and I’ve learned some important lessons along the way.
I thought long and hard about the direction I wanted to take this post. And as I started writing, my thoughts took a few different paths.
But ultimately, I decided to share what I learned from this rough start of pregnancy that is crucial for any woman to realize in a trying season of her life. Whether that’s a tough pregnancy, the first few weeks postpartum, an illness, or a family crisis.
Whatever the particulars, we all go through seasons where we just aren’t ourselves and we aren’t able to give 100%. And in those times, I absolutely want you to keep these lessons in mind:
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5 LESSONS FOR A DIFFICULT SEASON
Give yourself grace
This one was, by far, the hardest lesson for me to accept. I feel best when I’m productive, and I get a little thrill from checking boxes off a long to-do list. In fact, if I’m completely honest, I tend to derive too much of my own personal value from what I can accomplish in a day.
So I was bound and determined to continue my regular pace once I got pregnant. And it was a hard pill to swallow when I found myself fighting a losing battle day after day after day. No amount of pulling myself up by my bootstraps was going to whoop that nausea and fatigue.
Finally, one day I decided to stop fighting it. Why was it so important that I continue to do all these things? Just to prove I could? To get other people’s approval? Because I thought I should?
The answer, in fact, was yes to all those things, which I’ll talk more about in the next points. But I finally realized that none of them was worth sacrificing my health and wellbeing. And while it didn’t look like much, what I was doing was actually pretty huge — I was growing a human being!
So, I finally gave myself permission to let some things go. And while it didn’t do much to ease my physical symptoms, it did wonders for my peace and joy through the difficult weeks.
If you’re going through a difficult season, no matter the circumstances, ask yourself what absolutely has to be done, and give yourself a heaping serving of grace for the rest.
Forget about what other people might think
This was another doozie for me. As a pseudo-recovering approval addict (which means I want to be in recovery, but the reality is I’m not there yet), I hate the thought of people thinking badly of me. And giving myself grace came into direct conflict with that.
For one thing, I struggled with the thought that I wasn’t pleasing my husband. While I still tried to make sure everyone was fed, clothes were washed, and the house was decently clean, dinners were extremely basic (and were take-out much more than usual), the laundry got a bit backed up at times, and the house sometimes ended up looking like a disaster area. I felt like a failure.
Now, as an approval addict, I can sometimes border on paranoia when it comes to people’s opinions of me. So, I’m sure that his displeasure was more imagined than real. But the fact remains that I felt that I was not meeting his expectations, and that was very hard for me.
But, for the sake of my own sanity, I had to reach the point where I realized, “You know what? I know I’m doing the best I can. So, if that’s not enough for him, that’s not on me.”
It wasn’t just my husband’s opinion I was concerned about, however. I worried that other people would think I was lazy or undisciplined. That I was just making excuses or trying to get out of work. I was afraid people might think I wasn’t committed enough to my business endeavors.
But there again, I simply had to ignore those voices and realize that I had to do what was best for me. Not what other people thought I should be doing. I say that so easily, but believe me, it was not an easy place to get to. But it was unbelievably freeing once I arrived.
And I promise, it will be freeing for you, as well.
In a similar vein, I had to stop comparing myself to other women. I was constantly bombarded with thoughts of “she wouldn’t take it easy,” “that blogger blogged through everything,” “you’re not as tough as her.”
But the reality is that I don’t know anyone else’s life. And I don’t know what anyone else is or is not doing. Not really. I may see snapshots and sneak peeks. Public appearances and social media posts. But I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes.
And even if I did, so what? What she does has no bearing on what I do. Just because someone else does it doesn’t mean I have to.
And it doesn’t mean you have to, either. Do what you need to do, and don’t worry about anyone else. Your life is yours to manage; let everyone else manage their own.
Strip down & simplify
Lesson #3 for a difficult season is simplify, simplify, simplify. As I said in point #1, I had to learn that I didn’t have to do everything I normally did. And you don’t have to, either!
There are some non-negotiables, of course. And you may have some core values that you want to uphold. But that doesn’t mean you have to do them as elaborately or even thoroughly as you usually do. Streamline and simplify what you have to do, and strip down what you don’t.
Realize it’s just a season
I’ve had to repeat this to myself over and over — “This won’t last forever. You’ll be back to your normal self soon, and you can tackle all these projects then. For now, let them go.”
I’ve had to remind myself that I won’t be a bum forever. 🙂 It will get better, I will be more productive eventually, and I will have plenty of time to get back to business.
Survival mode gets a bad rap sometimes, and it’s not a place we want to live permanently. But there are times in every single person’s life when it is absolutely necessary. And there is nothing wrong with embracing it temporarily.
Of course, if this becomes your norm for an extended period of time, then you may want to re-examine some things. You might need to find a new planning system, develop new habits, or work on self-discipline.
For an excellent resource on getting out of survival mode, I highly recommend Crystal Paine’s book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode.
But while you’re in the middle of a difficult season, do the best you can, let go of what you can’t, and remember that it’s just a temporary setback.
What about you? Are you going through a difficult season right now, or have you gone through one recently? What are some of the biggest lessons you learned in the process? Share those, or your response to any of these lessons, in the comments below.
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