The growth that comes after the struggle

“Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried but you’ve actually been planted” Christine Caine

A friend of mine shared this quote with me a couple of weeks ago and it instantly resonated. This has definitely been true in my experience and yet, when I’m in a dark place, I almost always forget it.

If you’d asked me a year ago if I could see any positive reason whatsoever for going through the ringer again, I couldn’t have given you one. I felt sorry for myself; like I didn’t deserve it; like life was simply unfair and that I was somehow owed a “break” for having spent time working on myself and my demons and being a “good person”.

However, despite how f*cking horrible they seem at the time, it is my most painful and challenging experiences that have shaped me into who I am today. And I like who I am today. As a journalist, they are also the things I can write about with the most passion and authenticity, yet I balk from them with cries of “it’s not fair”. True. Sometimes life simply is not fair. But without the sour, the sweet wouldn’t taste half as good.

This weekend I went to Dorset to visit some friends and it brought up a few not so pleasant memories. It was about this time a year ago during a visit to the same friends that I collapsed from stress. That was the beginning of a horrendous few months where I felt physically and mentally unwell and where I began to question all the choices I’d made in my life and what I’d prioritised and lost as a result of those decisions. I became so overwhelmed and unable to cope that I threw a grenade right in the middle of my life and turned everything upside down.

I left London, I moved back in with my parents and I told my boss I could no longer carry on working in the capacity I was. I felt I had no choice but to resign. I was approaching 40, single, about to be jobless, in debt, an emotional wreck and living with my parents. After throwing myself full pelt into my career for 20 years, this felt like a rather sad and flat way to end it – what a waste. But as is often the case, as active and creative as my little mind is, I can never actually imagine what the outcome of things is going to be until I do them. All I can do is what I feel is right in my heart and trust that whatever happens is what is supposed to.

A year on I and I am 40, that’s the one thing that was guaranteed. But I’m not jobless, penniless and living with my parents and it hasn’t been a waste. As a result of all the painful stuff that had happened, I’ve actually ended up getting a new version of my life, one that I’ve wanted for a long time but have been too scared to ask for. I just moved into a new flat overlooking the sea, I work full time from home and I’m getting the help I’ve needed but didn’t ask for for a long time at work.

Last week I felt happier and more content than I have in a long time. Yesterday was a hard day and I felt really low and emotional but then I just reminded myself that maybe I was just being repotted again. It would be ok. No matter what, everything always is when you fight your way through the soil and into the sunlight.

So here’s to embracing the struggle because from it can come the most powerful and beautiful moments of growth.