You can do hard things.

I posted that phrase on Instagram earlier and ended up writing way too much for that platform so what a great chance to share more about myself, my life, and my process here.

A friend shared yesterday that she told herself “you can do hard things” as she was running for 18 miles in training for a marathon (!) because her parents had said this to her as a child when she complained about math homework or a difficult violin concerto. I can so picture the moments of that advice being given and perhaps not appreciated or fully understood at the time, but this woman is amazing and clearly that affirmation stuck with her bc she does many hard things all of the time!

I had never been told this phrase before though, and it had never become something that I told myself.

Unsurprisingly, doing hard things is not my thing. Part of the story I tell myself about myself is “You’re fun and chill. You’ve been sick and still struggle so you’d better take it easy and not push yourself doing too much work. You love smoking weed and it helps your stomach and body feel better so that’s okay if getting high and chilling is a top priority for you. You don’t not do hard things exactly, you just prefer to do easy things bc they’re more fun so why not.”

Is that thought true? Some parts, not all.

Is that thought helpful? It may have been one time, but I haven’t been finding it to be in the past few years.

Actually though, my being sick started at 17, smoking weed at 19, and let’s be real, I had major problems before that. So there must be earlier thought patterns I also need to address.

Not to get into my whole backstory bc it’s too damn long and sad, but its helpful to know that I grew up an only child with really pre-occupied parents.

I remember everything in childhood (before 10ish) coming easy to me, I had lots of early successes, and I always yearned to be challenged more. School was a breeze so I would study for Kids Jeopardy! on my own even though no one ever helped me try to get on the show like I asked (that was harder before internet but come on). I would do whatever gymnastics I could on my own all of the time bc my grandma could only spend so many hours to drive from her house to mine to the gym and back again 2x week and my parents didn’t at all. Violin was a good one for me to be able to practice myself, and I did and that went great, but as I got older and the violin playing got tougher - I just quit bc I wasn’t the best anymore and my parents were fine with that.

So I think I told my childhood self something like “You’re talented, you’re amazing! And you have to be bc you are on your own and have no help. So what that no one cares about you, that means no one cares about you and you can do whatever you want (and I don’t care about anyone anyway)! If the things you want to do get hard though, remember that you don’t have help, so figure out any way to stop doing it.”  

And throughout my life I know that I’ve been quitting & running away when anything would get hard.

But when my chronic illness got to the point that I was in pain all of the time and could not stand to be out of bed for more than a few hours at a time - I didn’t have a choice. My only option to “quit” would be killing myself like my biological mother or becoming a heroin addict like my biological father.

Because I had seen how those options worked out - not fucking well - I knew the only path was moving forward with small healing steps everyday.

I took over a decade of those days but I got myself to a place of fairly good health. And then my old thought and behavior patterns crept in.

I told my adult self “It’s too hard and I have no one to help me.” Day by day I’ve been moving backwards with the healing, allowing myself to plateau for awhile and then regress.

But not even close to completely.

I see it now - I see the thoughts and I’m doing the work again - big time.

Yes I’m talented and yes I’m amazing but I am not on my own. People do care about me and do care what I do. I want to be my best self for those people because I do care about them too. I can ask for help and will receive it. I know that I must now be the incredible parent that I always wanted to myself if I want to build new thoughts, feelings, ideas, and actions.

So as my loving parent I say, “Yeah you’re fun and chill, and look at all of the hard work you’ve put into your healing your life. Look how much you’ve been learning and sharing and working to put out into the world. If you take the consistent healing steps that you need Lauren, you know you can have the health and energy to accomplish all of your goals and dreams instead of just enjoying being high with your chihuahua. You can also still enjoy that, just not as often because you are so fulfilled doing more challenging things.

I know no one’s ever told you this, but I’m telling you now for sure - you can do hard things, and you will grow in the best ways from them.