Read the words repeatedly until you internalize them and can say them to yourself reflexively and automatically.
Internalize these (good enough) parental words as part of your relational trauma recovery journey, and let these words steady and support you when you feel like you just want to give up.
I hope these words can bring you even a little bit of comfort, no matter what is happening in your world.
Oh honey, things are really hard again, aren’t they?
You’ve reached the limits of what you think you’re capable of.
And it feels like everything everywhere all at once, like your brain is about to explode and there’s not enough of you to go around for all the problems.
You’re unhappy with your recent weight gain.
Your friends are irritated that you always seem in a rush and don’t have time to get together.
Your house is a disaster, but there’s no time to clean it or get rid of things because daily life and work take up your only time.
Work feels insurmountable, hard, painful, and lonely – like you’re doing five peoples’ workloads so that others can feel more at ease in their roles.
But you’re the primary breadwinner, so it’s not like you can quit.
You’re absorbing the brunt.
It’s gotten to the point when someone texting you out of the blue asking you for something rattles you – it’s Another Thing, and you’re already behind on Everything Thing.
You’re so unhappy.
You take out your anger and frustration with your life on your spouse and play out endless fantasy loops of what it would be like to be married to someone else because you two are struggling so much.
It’s not helping your marriage, but gosh, do you need the mental outlet…
You worry you’re not spending enough time with your kids but also can’t stand the mental stress of the unbelievable messiness of your house, so you chip away at chores and put them in front of the iPad and berate yourself.
Life feels like a constant damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario.
You thought you were doing okay for a while – you had a goal you were working towards.
A big goal.
A goal that would feel life-changing.
A goal that would put all the hard into perspective and make you think there is a finish line in sight, even if you are running a marathon at a sprint pace.
And now it feels like that goal may be slipping out of your grip, the finish line has vanished, and the meaning of the goal and the timeline brought to all the hard work seems to evaporate.
It all feels like hard work with no end in sight and no meaning to make of the hard.
And so you’ve started coping less well.
You’re eating your feelings.
You’re drinking your feelings.
You’re late-night Amazon shopping your feelings.
You don’t want to be around your family or friends anymore, even though they’re the people most important to you.
You know the solutions to all these problems; tackling them will just take unbelievable amounts of time and energy.
You just don’t have unbelievable energy and time.
You feel stuck.
You feel overwhelmed.
You feel like you’re failing adulting.
You want someone else to swoop in and make this better.
You want an off button for adulting.
Honey, I get it.
This place that you’re in is so, so hard.
You’ve taken on so much, and I see how hard you’re working to try and do a good job, but it’s gotten so hard lately.
Anyone would be struggling if they were facing what you’re facing.
Even one aspect of what you’re holding is enough to cause most people stress, and you’re holding ALL of it.
No wonder you feel like crawling under the covers and never getting out.
No wonder you feel like drinking three White Claws each night.
No wonder you’re eating your kids’ snacks from the pantry and the leftover pizza from the fridge.
No wonder you’re choosing to sleep in versus work out (sleep is your only escape right now, isn’t it?).
No wonder you’re picking fights with your spouse, team, and well-meaning friends.
Even the tiniest little request from someone else must feel like it will overwhelm you.
Like a bump to a coffee mug already overly full, any little bit extra spills the whole thing over.
I know it feels impossible to see how this time will end.
How you’ll get through it, and things will feel good again.
I remember those times from my own life when I felt a bit deadened.
Like I was going through the motions and vitality and joy, a “best life” was unattainable, unreachable, and even ridiculous.
This is one of those survival times when things feel exceptionally heavy and hard.
You WILL get through this.
Even if it means just one day after another of tackling the emails, trying to stay positive in front of those around you, and feeling like a Meryl Streep-level actress for that kind of “faking it until you make it.”
This incredibly hard time will pass, and when it does, you will have become another person.
A person with more capacity to tolerate distress and hardship, more ability to endure the tough stuff of life.
I wish had a crystal ball, and I could tell you that all the things you so desperately want are going to happen: your dreams for your career, to fall back in love with your spouse, to lose those 40 lbs, to feel (finally) financially secure.
I wish I had a crystal ball, and I wish I had a magic wand so I could give those things to you, too.
I’m sure that probably doesn’t feel helpful to hear – knowing I wish I could fix all your problems when I can’t – but I hope what you hear when I say this is that I love you and care for you and want things to be easier for you.
And I’m so sorry they aren’t.
At least not right now.
And while I don’t know when things will get better, I do know that I’m right here beside you, loving you, believing in you, wanting to be a person you can call up and cry to, vent to, talk to about how unfair this all is and how hard being an adult feels.
I can’t fix all your problems, honey, but I can be with you in them to support you however I can.
I love you, and I believe in you and your strength and capacities.
You’re one of the strongest people I’ve ever met, and you’re strong not because things were always easy for you but because you have faced many hard things in the past, and you’ve grown from them.
You will grow from this time, too (but of course, it feels hellish to go through).
I believe in your strength, resilience, and ability to do hard things and ask for support when you need it, and I trust that there will be moments of levity for you again, stretches of ease, and maybe even joy.
Days you can’t even dream up right now will feel better than you ever imagined.
I’m going to hold that vision for you.
I’m going to wish that for you.
You deserve good, wonderful, joyous days when you feel carefree, lighthearted and delighted by life and the people around you.
I know that feels impossible to imagine now, but I believe those days will happen for you.
I love you, honey.
And I’m right beside you as you go through this very hard time.
For many of us, reading words like these can feel like a fantasy – do people have parents who talk to them that way?
Yes, some do.
But for those who don’t, we can still find support in other kinds of relationships.
Maybe a partner.
Maybe a friend.
And certainly in the form of a dedicated therapist who cares deeply about you.
If you don’t have a therapist who can be with you through your own hard times, and if you live in California, me and my team of relational trauma therapists at Evergreen Counseling – the boutique, trauma-informed therapy center I founded in Berkeley, California – would be honored to support you.
Hard, grueling times in life may be unavoidable.
But even though we come from relational trauma backgrounds and lack the parental support we’d ideally like, support still is possible from other relationships.
Please consider gifting yourself the experience of true support.
You’re so worth it.
PS: Did this post resonate with you? Do you find these pep talks valuable when you’re going through hard times? Please leave a message in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you and know if these essays feel even a little bit helpful to you.