I Am Not Alone. A Daily Reminder.

mantraband-bracelets-sarah-lehberger-1.jpg

"I am not alone... I am not alone." The words of this song are ripping through me as I sit here un-showered, feeling broken and completely vulnerable. It might seem weird that the first place I came to is my blog. And yet, for me, it's not weird at all. It has become a diary of sorts. A place for me to share my hopes, dreams, failures, insecurities, and daring adventures. A place that allows me to speak my truth and own it. So here I go…

This has been one of the most challenging years of my life. My courage, my strength and my resilience have all been tested. Over and over. And I usually put on a brave face. I show the world my spirited and unstoppable self, because no one wants to hear about your moments of weakness, sadness or fear. No one wants to talk about those things. People don't want to hear all about the BS in your life, because they have their own to deal with. At least, that's what I've been telling myself.

And the worst part of that lie, is that it only secludes you more and makes you sink into that dark place where you lack connection. Where you feel empty, alone and depressed. So here I am, fighting the darkness. Trying to find the light… once more. It's time for me to rip off the bandaids of my wounds and put it all out there.

My life hasn't been the fairytale that I dreamed it would be.

It wasn't a Disney princess kind of fairytale that I believed in. I guess it was more of a Pretty Woman version that was in my head (without the prostitution, LOL).  Well, it hasn't been the epic romance that I told myself I deserved. I haven't been as healthy or happy as I wanted to be (hello, postpartum depression). I haven't been as good to myself (or my loved ones) as I've wanted. Quite simply, it hasn't been easy.

Over the course of the past year, I had some pretty major life "shake ups" or wake up calls. I didn't want to talk about them (in great detail) because I felt less than worthy and I didn't want to seem weak. After all, I am fearless, right? When you're fearless you can't be weak. Except I was and right now, I am feeling raw and torn apart. So here goes…

Last spring, I found out that I have nodules in my neck and on my thyroid. The lumps, thankfully, were benign and I have to continue to get them checked yearly in hopes that they stay that way and don't continue to grow. And with the biopsies and testing, it also showed that I have an Autoimmune disease called Hashimoto's disease.  I have been trying to treat this naturally and with changes to my diet, rather than using harsh drugs. I have joint pain at times, I'm losing hair, and I don't bounce back when I get colds or viruses as easily anymore. It hit me like a ton of bricks at first. I think because instead of feeling like my gutsy and confident self, the reality is that I am now vulnerable (and I hate that this makes me feel weak). The doctors made it official -- "you are now middle aged, Sarah". Gulp.

Then later this summer, I learned that my last living Grandparent was dying from stage 4 brain cancer. It brought back so many memories from growing up, like the time I lost my Grandfather to prostate cancer or the time my Grandmother fought stomach cancer while I was pregnant with Ava. Cancer has been a reoccurring presence in my life, and it plays a large role into why I am so nostalgic. I had to really dig deep into my past to discover that I get so homesick, because I wish I could go back to those times before my Grandparents were gone. Those days were magical for me. They were larger than life and so vivid. Those were truly the best of times, no matter how cliche that sounds. And although I can never get them back, it gives me great comfort and healing to be able to preserve those magical moments for other families. Because we never know how long that magic will last. And I simply need to hold onto it, because one of my greatest fears now is that I will be taken from my children in this same way. By this same disease that has robbed me of time with my Grandparents. It might be an irrational fear, but it haunts me. And now it will be compounded with each thyroid checkup in the future.

And lastly, and probably the hardest to admit, is that this winter my husband (and partner for the last 15 years) and I have reached a cross roads in our marriage. A place where we have to decide if this is worth fighting for. A moment where we have to look at the truth of our failures and mistakes and see if we can get past them all. Yes, we still love each other. And marriage is just plain hard. It's really eff'ing hard actually. Throwing some kids into the mix doesn't make matters any easier. And well, neither of us is perfect. I can't pretend that we are going to be all right or that I'll get my happy ending. I don't know what lies ahead. I only know that I am trying my best. I'm just going to put one foot in front of the other right now.

Yesterday, two of my dearest girlfriends (Ashley and Alicia) blessed me with their prayers. I haven't prayed so much or asked for prayer (like this) since I was a teenager. So here I am, exposing myself and telling you that I am struggling. Telling you that I am fighting the urge to hide and sink into the darkness. I am fighting it because something inside tells me that I am not alone, that someone else is feeling the same way right now, and that someone reading this is also struggling. Together, we can pray for each other. And as my girlfriends helped me to see yesterday, I don't hide anymore. I go ALL IN. Our stories may not be the same… and yet our pain, our fear, our uncertainty is. So this is me, reaching out. So we can support each other during the good and the bad. Because even the strong are allowed to have their moments of weakness.

During a low point this week, I bought myself a gift of these MantraBand bracelets.

I needed to remind myself that I am worthy, I am enough, and I matter.

mantraband-bracelets-sarah-lehberger-2.jpg

I needed to be kind to myself and shower me with some love for once. I needed a visible reminder that:

  • I will get through this. I have to believe it.
  • I will find peace. It is within me.
  • I can take one breath (or step) at a time.

And quite possibly the greatest reminder of them all…

I can be fearless, even when I am feeling vulnerable.

"To be fearless is to do what scares you, to take a chance, to make a change, to love again. And to get back up after you fall. To be fearless is to know your fears, but never let them stop you." 

I hope that someone out there (feeling stuck in the darkness) reads this and finds some light, and may you know that you are not alone.

Sarah Lehberger

Easton, CT

Sarah Lehberger is a photographer based on the shoreline of Connecticut, just 90 mins from New York City, in the small town of Easton. She specializes in photography that celebrates working Moms and their families. She is also a Co-Founder of She Will Thrive, providing business coaching, retreats and workshops to women entrepreneurs, creatives and small business owners.

Sarah's career started in the news and entertainment industry. A storyteller at heart, she began photographing weddings in 2003 while also working full time at Getty Images, NY in their editorial department. Sarah enjoyed the fast-paced and glamorous events she would collaborate on, yet deep down she was craving more purpose driven work. In 2005 she decided to leave the corporate world to launch her full time wedding business, which received numerous awards and features throughout the industry.

In 2013 Sarah rebranded her business so she could continue her mission to celebrate women, with a new focus on mothers. She feels strongly about empowering women and creatives to succeed, and has been a speaker at conferences such as ShootDotEdit's Unlimited Happiness Tour, Inspire Photo Retreats, as well as a past coach and mentor for Team X Academy.