Your Struggles Aren’t Here to Hurt You
By Molly Patrick
Feb 23, 2019,
Whatever you’re struggling with right now has entered your life to teach you something. This is the nature of struggle.
There is a lesson in this beautiful mess, and there is something to extract that is pure gold. Money cannot buy this insight, and love cannot make it go away. You might not be able to imagine it right now, but one day you will look back on the shit show at hand and humbly whisper, thank you.
The sick feeling in your stomach, the worry, the stress, the fear – these are all road signs telling you to look beyond what is immediately in front of you. I know it’s hard, but if you can set the pain and worry aside for just a moment and simply observe without getting hooked into the current narrative of your life, you will find clues as to what this current lesson is trying so hard to gift you.
Never forget life is happening for you, not to you.
The clues will start to add up until, eventually, something clicks. And get ready, my dear, because when you feel that click, that is the moment you must invite your courage to step up, take you by the hand, and lead the way. Courage is always up for an adventure. You just have to trust that it will show up. It will.
Hand in hand with courage, you will start to make the necessary changes that need to be made. They will probably be hard, and it might take some time, but you can bet your ass that those changes will be empowering. And your life will be forever and deliciously changed. The very fact that you were born makes you 100% worthy of living your purpose and sharing your gifts.
But in order to get there, you must understand that the purpose of your struggles and your obstacles is not to hurt you.
They are here to teach you.
Here’s a condensed version of what that looked like for me back in 2015.
Luanne and I were living in a tiny house in Tucson, AZ. It had no AC, and the summer heat was brutal. We had been working full-time on Clean Food Dirty Girl for over a year, and we were struggling. We weren’t making much money, our savings were close to running out, and we were working our asses off. We couldn’t afford to hire anyone to help us, so Luanne and I were doing the jobs of at least five people. We did the photographs, recipes, writing, Facebook Group moderation, all the technical backend stuff, bookkeeping, emails, blog posts, support – the two of us did it all.
It was a struggle to keep up because there were only so many hours in the day. Plus, there was no guarantee that our business would ever make enough money to support us. We were okay living a frugal life for a couple of years while we put in the time, but we did not want to be broke long-term. I’ve always believed you can do what you love and make however much money you want. I don’t think for a second that the two are mutually exclusive or that they should be. But at that particular time, we were broke, and we needed to pay our bills.
So I took a part-time job at an adult diaper company. I am in no way, shape, or form kidding. I processed orders and did customer support for individuals and nursing home facilities that needed cases of adult diapers. I loved the woman I worked for (we’re still friends), but I was miserable. Working on something other than CFDG felt like a knife through my heart.
Plus, I wasn’t even bringing in enough money to pay our small amount of rent. What was I doing? It didn’t feel good. It didn’t feel right. It was a struggle. Going to that diaper job felt heavy. It felt sad. It felt like I was being ripped away from CFDG.
Therefore, it was a clue.
My lesson was one that I had needed to embrace for a long time, and it was a hard and scary one to face.
I was working hard on CFDG, but I wasn’t operating at my best. I was spiritually bankrupt. My soul was tired. I had so much more to offer, and I knew I was more than capable of running a business that not only helped people but also provided a comfortable life. But if that ever had a chance of happening, I knew, like I knew I had to quit drinking alcohol that I had two options.
I could either stay cozy and comfortable and keep drinking, working for free for CFDG, and continue packaging diaper orders, or I could get really uncomfortable for a bit, quit drinking, and explore a life beyond my wildest dreams.
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Even though drinking was cozy and comfortable, the effects of drinking were not. Even though quitting drinking was the hardest and scariest thing I could imagine doing, the effects were not. So I invited courage in for some tea, I took a deep breath, and I chose the latter.
Almost four years and zero alcohol later, Clean Food Dirty Girl employs 10 people. we help thousands of people around the globe eat more plants with Plant Fueled Life, we bought a house in Hawaii, and we make plenty of money to be comfortable. To this day, I am filled with gratitude for that diaper job, for that tiny, hot as fuck house in Tucson, and for that entire period of my life. It showed up in my life right on time. The last time I was in Tucson, I thanked that little house.
Struggles aren’t in your life to hurt you, sweet human. They are clues that lead you to your lessons. They are here to teach you. So show up, pay attention, and face the lesson.
It’s not going to be easy, but I can tell you with certainty that it is so very worth it. And YOU, my dear, are undeniably deserving.
Are you struggling right now? What lesson do you think it’s trying to teach you? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.
Here’s a hint: deep down, we usually have a pretty good idea about the lesson. Sometimes, it’s just really fucking hard to honor it and listen.
Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with looking at your struggles in a new light.
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Thank you for that article, I needed it. I have 2 young kids, feel trapped recently as my husband works late & I work full time but a lot of the child care falls on me. Feel I’m losing who I am. I don’t like my job but have no mental space for creative thinking. I know this time is difficult with the kids as they are so time consuming. I’m hoping I will find my way soon. X
Jennifer just wanted to say o know exactly whaT you are going through! We are in the same situation. Hugs to you!
Can’t believe how prescient this post feels. Thanks so much. Today my card got declined when buying dogfood. Managed to scratch cash together, but the worry feels constant in the political climate of the UK, bringing up two amazing kids without a dad, animals too. Feeling very blessed for the love in our lives but so anxious about providing for them while being there for my kids. Neurodiversity makes me very bad at a lot of jobs, and here in Cornwall it’s big on beauty, short on work.. in my heart I know I have to get back to college and use my talents. This is a real motivator for making that initial contact. Thanks so much for sharing. I have nothing to give right now but my admiration and love, so this is what I am sending. Xxx
Hi. Your story touched me. I have worked in further education for decades. I have seen the transformation this experience can offer a person. Go and take the first step. You won’t regret it.
Hi Molly. As you know since my mom’s passing (5 years ago) I’m still struggling. With my daily pain and now Todd having heath issues, it’s sometimes hard to be happy. Now my older sister had moved to Texas and Todd and I have no family here. I am thankful for all that I do have. I know that if I was to make the full transition to at least a vegetarian diet I would feel so much better. I’m trying to make healthier choices and I’m actually doing better. You sent me the skinny bitch books when you lived in California and I need to read it again. Chat later my friend.
Beautiful post, Molly. Thank you.
I’ve been going thru a long process of facing deep stuff that’s kept me from moving forward. A romantic break-up that was traumatizing nearly 40 years ago had me in some kind of subconscious head-lock over all these years since, and only now is it resurfacing to help me see what I didn’t want to see.
The big change for me is recognizing that buried trauma & fears are actually friends, the ones spiritual teacher Matt Kahn describes as “the next in line to be loved.” When I feel them rise up, sometimes in those nights I cannot sleep, I’m no longer afraid. I meet them in my thoughts, with my heart, and say, “Take a chair and tell me now what I wasn’t willing to hear then. It’s ok. I’m strong enough to hear it now. I’m glad to meet another part of myself; I’m sorry I ran from you for so long, and I love you. Thanks for helping me to wake up.”
These moments feel freeing but not usually fun 🙂 But boatloads of tears are ok, and so are puffy eyes and lack of sleep when it comes with the feeling of an expanding heart & inner peace and joy. Like you wrote, it is SO worth it. And I’ve noticed fun does happen more often, after awhile.
Thank you for sharing this story of your own emotional courage. We aren’t just dirty girls; we’re awfully brave ones too…
You did it again, you mind-reading Wizard. I am moving clear across the country this week. I have a fabulous new home and all the love of family awaiting me, but we have no jobs and a house to sell. After caring for my mom who suffered from Alzheimer’s for 5 years, I have the ability to set out on this amazing new chapter of my life. Scared as hell? You betcha. Equally psyched? Oh YEAH. Thanks for the inspiration.
I remember when it was “just” you and Luann. Two super humans with a mission. When I think of all the mistakes I had to make to meet the people I met to be in the spot I was when someone sent me a recipe of yours and I went exploring… well I’d do it all again. And just like you, I’d be grateful because the BEST gift of this spiritual growth, besides the lessons, is seeing someone else struggling and being able to say “It’s going to be ok and here’s how I know”. That’s how my faith in the process started, with other people’s experience. Now the more I grow, the less I fear and it has opened my life up like a fire hose! Thank you for being an important part of my life the last several years. I love you and Team Dirty forever!
This. This is what I needed today. I have been very frustrated at work lately as I feel like I’m being pulled in a million different directions with no inkling as to where to go.
I will stop relying on what other people are telling me as my only compass for whether I’m doing a good job or not. My progress in my career is in my own hands and this post has encouraged me to stop being so defeated by the feedback I’m receiving and focus on what I can control, be real with myself, take things with a grain of salt and really re-evaluate how I’m doing. This allows me to give myself feedback and encouragement! I manage a team of 10 and it’s so real that you have to fill yourself up so that you can fill up others. But, sitting in my struggles has made me feel like the world is against me, and you’re so right that that’s not the case. Thank you for this message today.
This is definitely a message from the universe. For years I’ve been in a job that I love/hate, depending on the day and what’s going on, but I’ve been more and more unhappy there for months. I’m terrified to quit, but recently I saw a job that was perfect for me and applied without any real hope of getting an interview. But I got an interview. I’m currently in the middle of the lengthy interview process, and also just happen to be 14 days alcohol-free. I’ve had several moments of stunning clarity this week, and realize that I will never achieve real peace and joy while I’m trapping myself in self destructive behaviors and 40 hours a week of unfulfilling work. Your message hits me right in the heart. Thank you.
Wow, Molly. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your thoughtful and inspiring journey. If I may share mine and how you changed my life….In 2007 I started a theatre company – a long time dream of mine 20 years in the making. I thought this was going to be how I would play out the rest of my life. For almost 10 years I built the company, along with others. About five years in we merged with another company and suddenly I found myself working 90+ hours a week, with people who didn’t respect or appreciate me and I was desperately unhappy. I kept trying harder, thinking that things would change, but they didn’t. My unhappiness was so great that I ended up consoling myself with food and gained almost 100 pounds. I was emotionally and physically at the lowest point in my life. What I finally realized in the end was this was no longer the dream that I had envisioned and I had to walk away or risk losing the last pieces of my future happiness and health. So, here I was at age 52…starting over. The first year I was terribly lost and angry. Then on February 28th, 2018 on a random search for a new blender, I stumbled across your blog and everything changed. It’s not just the whole foods plant based living that woke me up and changed my life, it’s all of you dirties! You inspire me, you guide me, and here I am, almost a year later feeling more and more like my authentic self. I have released so much pain, and embraced love and life again. Oh yeah, I also happen to be down 40 pounds, but that’s second to finding my way back to happiness! Your words are so true and we are all blessed because you said fuck it and grabbed your dream and took us all with you. You are the pebble tossed into that vast lake and we are your ripples…thank you!!!
Starting the week before Christmas 2018, life was showing me how I apparently suck. First my 12 y/o Weimie, Stella got diagnosed with inoperable nasal cancer. The very next day I discovered a massive leak in my finished basement. The very next day I discovered my dishwasher had been leaking for god knows how long and was t able to be repaired. Hours later, mold was discovered in the basement. I tell myself, “Ok, cool let’s deal and keep it moving.” Now it’s the second week of January and my house restoration has been done. At this point I’ve missed tons of work. The next week went by and I get my water bill. Long story short, the water main from my house to the street is leaking. Guess what? $5000 and 2 more missed days of work. Ok whew, that has to be it for a little while, right God? Three weeks ago I come down with the worst case of the flu I’ve had in all of my adult life. I’m a single mom taking care of an eight year old and my sick doggie. Miss one more week of work. This past Monday was Presidents’ Day. Tuesday go to work and get home in a good mood. Son is happy dog is happy. Fast forward to today. I had to have my dog out down on Thursday. Literally overnight she let me know it was time. Alllllllll that other shit doesn’t matter to me, yes, it was stressful as fuck and yes I’m in debt again (after 3 years of being basically debt free) up to my eyeballs. But, my one constant. My entire heart. My Stella. She’s gone. What am i supposed to learn from this and what the FUCK did I do to piss off the universe??? I know there’s a lesson. What the hell is it? I’ve never felt pain like this on my life. I just want to fix my karma and “change my poison to medicine”. Help me. Please. ??
There are times like these and they hurt like hell. But they do pass. We had a period like this with serious water damage, sick pets and my husband lost his business. He now has cancer. I thought the end of the world had come. But no. No bad juju from the universe. Just life. I offer you an idea – read Pema Chodron . Start maybe with « When Pain Is The Doorway ». We can’t change what has happened but we can heal. She helped me move from despair to acceptance and with that acceptance, things started to move. I saw that I still had things to feel joy about, and with that the despair lifted. Months down the road we are still broke, he still has cancer but we can laugh again and calm returned. At least we now have most of the water damage repaired and we have been able to return home. The movement to the subtle changes in us and how we deal with the shit cards life can throw us started with a friend suggesting reading Pema Chodron. It helped me. I hope it helps you. Sending you love and courage ??
Thank you Bev. So sweet of you. I’m buying that book right now. Thank you!! ???
This was critical for me to hear. Today. This moment. Thank you. So.very.much. I struggle on a daily basis. I often wonder if this life I have is worth it. I am not where I wanted to be. Where I thought I would be. The life I dreamed of never materialized. I feel trapped and lonely most days, but keep going for my family. They are why I get out of bed and go to work. Since my life will never be spectacular, I now live to travel. Perhaps I will find me again doing that. Thank you for the message.
Once again, you have reached so many people by being brave and opening and sharing your thoughts to everyone. There’s not a single person on your email list who can’t relate to your message. You’ve given everyone a few-changing “A-ha!” moments from which they can ponder and change their universe. What would we do without you?!
Thank you again for hitting the nail on the head. I can not tell you how right this group and way of life feels to me. At 67 I can finally be the Hippie I always wanted to be. Eat REALLY good food and make myself first in the food area of life. My husband is one of a kind an very supportive of All that I do. Knit, paint, sew, quilt, bake, bbq’ and cook. He has said to me for a very long time, just do it. With the help of you all I’m realizing that I can. For the past 3 years I have been working on an art quilt of a pig with a beet headdress. It’s very time consuming and I really love working on her. I have used a lot life’s “to dos” get in the way of my creative drive. After your post today, no more. I am going to use your batching to create time for me during the week to work on my Pig. With not having to fret about what to fix for dinner I can be freed up to work in my Room. Thank You
I hope you post a picture when it’s done. Sounds beautiful!
This is EXACTLY what I needed to hear today. I have known for a long time that certain habits are out of control. Sometimes the sign needs to smack you a good one!
Thank you, thank you. You were the catalyst for our jumping in with both feet into the wfpb life. Throughout our marriage..and into the golden years our motto was “Come, grow old with me…the best is yet to be.” And now we’ve added “…and the journey continues.” Thanks to you and Luanne for dreaming big and now living your dream.
Jacquie and Randy (the hubs)
Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story. I feel as I am in the middle of LIFE. I don’t have a bad life and I have SO much to be thankful for. I guess I just don’t always see it. I know what I need to do I just need to get the courage to get my life on track and not feel sorry for myself.
Thank you for being here
When the email comes in, always surprised….then excited. Love all the wisdom, not sure about that porridge dish! Maybe I will get there, but can tell you that I am always in a better place after your fun, deep and amazing messages. Thank you, thank you.
Lovely dirties, your comments are so raw and open and beautiful it makes my heart crack with joy and love. I am so grateful to have found you. Thank you Molly for sharing and helping us all walk each other along the road. X
You have inspired me to quit drinking as I realized I can’t drink and eat healthy as it is cancelling out the good. It’s only been going on 3 weeks, but already I feel better and really don’t miss it. As for the [Hearty Breakfast Porridge] recipe, I can’t wait to make it. I just put a batch of soy yogurt in my instant pot, so it will have to wait.
Hi Molly Thanks you so much for sharing these inspirational words @just the right time! I have been alone for a long time&overcome allot of hardships.Am working on establishing a relationship with someone I was able to meet&connect w/Online.It is moving slowly&gradually which is @times frustrating for me since it is something I have waited for&wanted my whole life.It feels right…it is just challenging getting there.I am trying to embrace the process xo
I hate my job so much but the pay is decent and I am in student debt up to my eyeballs. I am always trying to figure a way out of it but I chose a career I thought I would love and it didn’t turn out that way for me. 20 yrs later I feel trapped. I don’t have a clue what I would be good at or would be fulfilling because I thought nursing was it and it definitely isn’t in my case. I am miserable at work and sincerely don’t know what to do. I would love to quit and dive headlong into a life that would be fulfilling and passionate and helpful to others but I have no clue what to do or how I would pay my bills if I did. I know there are MUCH bigger struggles than this but I needed to type it out and see how it felt…feels good to get it out there. Thank you all for all of your honesty, openness, willingness to change, and ability to keep me hopeful.
I feel you! I had a ton of school loans that weighed on my shoulders for years.
I recommend reading the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.
It all starts with awareness that you want more.
Hugs Shannon, I’m sure you’ve explored, but before you leave nursing entirely, please look at all the career options that it encompasses. If nothing is a match for you, then by all means, explore other options.
I logged 15 yrs in one specialty, then found my passion where I intended to remain for my whole career. Then burned out completely after 15 years in that second specialty. Now at 54, I’m learning an entirely new area of nursing. Scary as shit to be the new kid at this age, but I’m enjoying it and trusting the universe that working per diem will give us enough to live on.
My 17 year old son is struggling with anxiety and depression and my husband and I have vastly different ways of dealing with it. I’m sick with worry and fear every day. I just want him to be happy. He just got into three colleges and he’s excelling at school but socially it a drama all the time. He talks with me and share some his feelings which I am so grateful for and don’t want to lose. He sees a counselor but the day to day is so rough. It triggers my depression and anxiety often plus my husband and I disagreeing on how to handle his behavior and issues makes it even worse. I often feel stuck and drowning because I can not control this situation. I have been meditating for the first time in my life and learning to do exactly what you spoke about it this piece. I have moments where I can step away from the alarm and fear and awful yucky feelings and really see this for what it is yet I do not yet know what this struggle is teaching me other than to love unconditionally yet also speak my truth and stick to my guns.
I am unemployed and pushing myself right now to do some real networking and figure out a career that is creative, sustainable and feeds my soul. This is the first time in my life I have even tried to explore job possibilities I might enjoy…. since age 21 I have worked to pay bills at soul crushing data and clerical jobs. The struggle is real and my husband is not supportive because of emotional issues he struggles with (EDD). I am also raising an only child who pushes my buttons to no end sometimes I feel like a raw nerve by the end of the day. I just keep pushing and moving forward because I know that is what I must do to find the elusive happiness at the end of this struggle….
Molly, when you created Clean Food Sober girl you launched me on a trajectory I could not have imagined. I read post after post, wine glass in hand, not thinking about quitting, really, because seriously there probably wasn’t a chance in hell that I could. Then one day, someone mentioned the Alcohol Experiment by Annie Grace. Then a few weeks layer I woke up and said “I am fucking done!” I did the 30 day AE and am just about to celebrate 16 months alcohol free! If it wasn’t for you Molly, I doubt I would be where I am right now! Thank you! And congratulations to you too!
Two weeks ago I decided to stop my business, which was not going like it should. I had more costs then income. It was a hard decision, but I know it is right for now. I can still pick it up later.
I have more time left for school.
I also freed up my weekendnights, so I have more time for my family, which was a big deciding factor: my kids are still so young.
I know there will be a great opportunity for me in the future, just laying around the corner.
Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for all your beautiful blogs. You touch my soul on so many levels with so many blogs. I sit and cry with tears of joy to know I am not alone. To know there is light out of darkness. You are an amazing gift of sunshine to those of us still struggling.
So glad my words spoke to you.
You are not alone.