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Your words are my lifeline.  I sit down to your posts and as I read I can feel my acceptance of myself and my needs grow.  Your words validate my feelings about my life, motherhood, relationships and it is something I hold onto.  And during the times when I feel like I am not able to be a mother or a wife or a sister or a friend or whatever someone needs me to be, I go back to your words and find some peace…I send your posts to my husband when I need him to understand that I love him but I need …
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Brenda has truly opened up a space for introverted types on the ‘net, and her self-revelations are always inspiring. Her voice is one I always look forward to. She is one of the writers that actually played a part in my return to writing.  — S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
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That courage and dedication you so generously share with the world, has inspired me to push myself a little harder, persevere at each task a little longer, dig a little bit deeper to where the answers just “feel” right to both my humanity AND my spirit. Your insights have reinforced my direction and given me additional tools that help me clear my path. I’m wired into my creativity as never before and the new music is pouring out of me faster than I can record and produce it; this is the Un…
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Giving Up Season: When Overwhelming Obligations Plague Your Space to Live

Run through midnight dunes with sparklers

or lie down on the dark shore and let life wash over you?

waterandbrunette

Here it is again, giving up season. No, I’m not talking about Lent.  I’m talking about one of those phases in which we feel defeated by the overwhelming requirements of life. It’s when you find yourself constantly giving up what makes you hop out of bed in the morning in order to fulfill pressing and unavoidable obligations. We don’t have a choice.  There’s no way around the onslaught of work and need requiring our attention. We give up because it’s easier to do what’s expected and right now we don’t have the strength to handle day-to-day chaos AND live vividly outside of the status quo.

How to Know When You Have Been Stricken by Giving Up

The following are a few symptoms of the dreaded season: crying in the shower, 4AM anxiety, a sense of being trapped, lifeless eyes and a buildup of clutter and broken things. You may think you are inoculated against its effects but immunity is rare.

Every few months we surrender dreams, freedom and self to reality, responsibility and everyone else’s needs. Feel fortunate if you only suffer occasionally from giving up because for some, this is a chronic condition.

You will usually feel GU coming on before it strikes. Exposure to children being home from school for extensive periods of time; home ownership headaches; frustrating work experiences, endless errands and compulsory confrontations precede the very worst cases.

woman-exhaustedSuccumbing to the funk, we watch passions go down the toilet. Buried under the covers of  a rapid-fire existence, we beg for mercy and rest, but like all serious maladies it commands attention. Don’t even think about having energy to do anything beyond have to’s. Forget reading. Forget exercising. Time to think ain’t likely. Writing is out of the question. Give up the pleasing feeling of contentment. It’s all about survival now.

We’ll do anything to stop the onslaught of obligations and subsequent feelings of entrapment. Clear out all frivolous activities and resolve to complete the compulsory tasks. All the while praying, Please don’t let this last long.

The Bright Side

 You can lie on the couch, drink ginger ale and watch bad television while the kids snuggle you and repair men fix leaks and broken parts around the house. This is great for a while, even nourishing, but make sure you don’t languish there forever. Too much lounging turns to avoidance and further overwhelm. To-do lists metastasize and make it difficult to stand on your own two feet again. You could grow even more weary from lack of solitude, lack of creativity and the denial of your true self.

A positive aspect of surrendering to all that must be done, is the clarity it brings. What we ache for during those stretches of unconscious-living is what we must pursue as soon as we find the strength.

Remedies for Obligation Overload

 Even in a weakened state, know you won’t forsake being for doing forever. You will recover and here’s how:

1. Curiosity: Curiosity will pull you out of a stupor. It will get you talking, listening, learning. Even buried in to do’s your antennae is up listening for bits of fascinating material. You’ll hear a book mentioned on the radio that piques your interest. Another parent will mention they just got back from Belize and you will want to learn what Belize is all about.  A child will need help with a school project and the research will inspire you.  Ideas will incubate and then beg to be carried out. Your eyes will sparkle again as you lantern in tunnelengage in keen observation and poignant questioning. Your color will return. You can’t stop your introvert nature from wanting to explore something in-depth. You can’t stop your extroverted nature from wanting to get out in the world again.

2. Resonance: Just when you feel yourself going down for the count, throw back the curtains and let sunshine pour in in the form of  hauntingly beautiful music, a shared joke or an active comment thread on a topic you adore. Knowing others feel a deep connection to something you do is a huge boost. One person admitting to being on the same page or breath as you is life enhancing, invigorating.

3. Solitude: Nothing soothes frazzled nerves faster than space or downtime. Many claim to thrive in hustle in bustle but solitude relieves. It stops the bleeding. It slows the heart rate.  A lack of solitude is often what causes us to give up in the first place.  We feel we must cater to others. Eventually, it becomes apparent that we will not thrive if we do not get alone time. We are faced with a choice.  Commit to nurturing ourselves in solitude occasionally or roll over and give up.

We must choose to LIVE.

Ever feel like giving up? What are the warning signs that you have succumbed to too many obligations? What brings you back to good?

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:

When Parenting Overwhelms (space2live)

In Defense of Introverted Parents (space2live)

Let’s Not Reduce Everything to Numbers:An Antidote to the Unsatisfying Way We Account for Our Existence: (space2live)

Is It Selfish to Choose Passion and Work Over Family? (space2live)

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20 Comments

  1. marci February 11, 2017 at 8:40 am - Reply

    Right now I’m teetering on feeling overwhelmed by “obligations”some you can’t just say no to-real life intense obligations.
    I am a visual artist so that “creative time” is what will help save me…or just writing daily .One good change(painting a room -recreating a space for solitude or making art or reading…That’s fun and very helpful).
    The part that can be hard-is really making sure you set that “time” for “yourself”
    Thanks for the article.

    • Brenda Knowles February 14, 2017 at 10:08 am - Reply

      It seems we all come to such stages of overload. There is a cycle of work and rest. Just remember the overloaded feeling will eventually pass. Take small steps toward completion and no matter what fit in that creative time. You have my permission. 🙂

  2. […] Giving Up Season: When Overwhelming Obligations Plague Your Space to Live […]

  3. Debbi April 2, 2013 at 10:00 pm - Reply

    This is how I basically felt this weekend…not quite the same…but I felt like I wasn’t going to recover. I felt like I needed alone or almost, hanging with my Mom or with my sister in a mellow way, alone, but I wondered if I was becoming a hermit who felt better alone at home. I want to be social and this was a relaxed holiday going on. I also have been feeling edgy and tired for the last couple of months.

    In order to combat this, I tried to chill with my Mom and sister’s family after the crowd left. Prior to the holiday, I researched and made steps toward moving into groups with the same interests as me that make me come to life…basically the advice you gave in my own way.

    I have to say, it did feel VERY calming to be alone in my apartment AFTER I got home from work…not before. However, I went to my other sister’s house of four people for her birthday, and it was calm and enjoyable. I left in time for both of us to chill and revive for the next day…we were both tired. Therefore, no fear of not wanting to be social.

    It’s taking time because I think I need a random day off, but I am finding and using new and old tricks.

    Do you ever not want to go to bed because you want more time in the night without the pressure of the oncoming tasks of the day? At this moment and often, I feel that yet I’m too tired to keep my eyes open and enjoy that extra hour…that’s about what I want. In that case, I try to keep my morning as chill as possible…tv, oatmeal…comfort food…for breakfast, and a “comfort tv show” while hanging on the couch. It sometimes leads to being late for work, but it’s a guilty pleasure 🙂

    Ciao!

    • brennagee April 4, 2013 at 12:32 pm - Reply

      Holidays are notoriously stressful. I’m surprised you could chill and relax with your mom and sister’s family still around. You must blend well with their temperaments. For me, the introvert, one or two people I could handle but I’d prefer alone time after all that holiday hubbub.

      I know you need to be social. I also think you need that quiet solitude of your apartment. Ebb and flow. I am like that too. Maybe you are an ambivert (blend of both intro and extrovert).

      There are many nights I wish I could have more hours of relaxing or non-task oriented flow time. Sleep usually governs me to cut that short so I won’t be brain dead the next day.;) Damn biological needs.

      Thanks for reading and sharing. As always so appreciated.

  4. Denise Hisey January 28, 2013 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    Such truth! As I mentioned on OneHotMess’ site, just today I realized I’ve bitten off one too many things and my list of obligations has tipped me over the edge.
    Time to trim…
    Thanks for a timely reminder!

  5. Doug Toft January 27, 2013 at 5:47 pm - Reply

    Also, there’s mindfulness. When done with full attention and acceptance—and conscious breathing—any task becomes a meditation, and a great use of time.

    • brennagee January 28, 2013 at 2:04 pm - Reply

      Aah yes, mindfulness. That is the first thing to go when I’m overloaded but you’re right it is so centering and powerful. I do employ deep breathing when I feel my anxiety levels climbing. I need to get back into a consistent meditation practice. I fully believe in its benefits. Thanks for reminding me Doug.:)

  6. Tommy January 26, 2013 at 5:13 am - Reply

    Again you’re spot on! I’ve been in state, and it’s not fun. However, I have overcome, at least at this moment in time. I know that there is a good chance that GU will return again, as it has in the past, but I know that for me it tends to be a cycle, even though sometimes during the GU time I forget that this too will pass, and I need to focus and do what I can to pull myself through. One thing I find really helps me is to focus on prayer, meditation, and drawing near to God.

    • brennagee January 26, 2013 at 7:05 pm - Reply

      Thank you for mentioning the fact that the GU funk does pass. Everything ebbs and flows. I forget this every time until it’s over and I’m breathing freely again.

      Going inward through prayer or meditation is an excellent remedy as well. It’s so hard to slow down and do these things when the hamster wheel is spinning, but we must. Much clarity comes with silence and listening deeply.

      Thank you for your insightful comment.

  7. A Gripping Life January 25, 2013 at 6:09 pm - Reply

    I have been stricken. I’m in a stupor and have felt like I’m in paralysis. It takes everything in me just to do routine things. I feel overwhelmed with life on every level.
    This was an excellent post. I’m glad OneHotMess reblogged it!

    • brennagee January 26, 2013 at 7:01 pm - Reply

      I have been there. My best advice is to do two things. 1. Get space somehow. Give yourself a large block of time (hours preferably) and do something that fills you up – read, movies, bath, friend time, write, exercise. 2. Take action. Stab into a task that has been hanging over your head. Action dissolves fear (and paralysis). It is such a hard thing to do but it gives you strength and momentum.
      Also, sleep is very important. If your obligations have been affecting your sleep, you must do something. Get away and get a good night’s sleep.
      Best of luck. Everything changes. Know that. This will all turn over or pass.

      • A Gripping Life January 26, 2013 at 7:06 pm - Reply

        Thanks for that sweet and thoughtful response!! It gives me hope. 🙂

  8. Debbi January 25, 2013 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    I totally get this one…high anxieties at work and lack of want to go at all, all my flavor is gone, my clutter builds, I don’t take the time to cook, and semi-depressing feeling runs over me. I find that making sure I open the shades as soon as the sun starts to shine also helps as well as using the HappyLight for an hour a day…including at night in the summer if I’m having these feelings.

    I’m more extrovert than introvert which means I have to start looking for things to do with people…fun things…as well as starting to dig into those unwanted tasks. The more I resolve or complete them, the better I feel. However, there are set backs when I’m working on a task and it looks unfinishable. In that case, I walk away with high anxiety, but when my body calms down, I realize my time-line wasn’t doable and I will eventually get to redo part of what I already did but get further along too.

    • brennagee January 26, 2013 at 6:56 pm - Reply

      Sunshine does help as does taking action but when I’m in the giving up state I feel like I am taking action constantly but barely making a dent in the pile. Forced constant action that goes against my interests and passions is so draining but I know it’s a part of life. I also know the shit storm will pass.;)
      So you think your happy light truly boosts your mood? I have one and I find it kind of annoying. It’s too bright no matter what level I set it. It sits on my desk mocking me.;) Making me unhappy because I spent money on it and I don’t like it.

      Thanks for reading and commenting friend.:)

      • Debbi February 1, 2013 at 4:26 pm - Reply

        Wow! That’s interesting about the HappyLight! Mine does wonders for me…and all I usually need in a day is an hour of it. Thanks for the reminder. I think I need to turn it on today…drab day. Mine is the large one that you set on the floor. If I didn’t know what it did for me, I’d think it was a huge eye sore. Anyway…hmmm…again…that’s interesting regarding the light. I’m not at all surprised that you need the flip of my remedy.

  9. Deborah the Closet Monster January 25, 2013 at 3:23 pm - Reply

    I didn’t even realize I was overwhelmed, coasting on get-by mode, until a few days ago I started to feel the fog lifting. I’m smiling more, laughing, chatting with strangers, and full of hope about what’s to come. I want to hold on to the feeling and remember, the next time this happens, your post and the way back to doing.

    Thanks to Annie for reblogging this well timed food for thought/heart!

    • brennagee January 25, 2013 at 5:18 pm - Reply

      That’s the thing. Putting out fires and dealing with constant commotion lulls us into a life of sleepwalking, not truly awake, just getting by. That feeling of hope and ease is so wonderful. Maybe we need the chaos to help us feel the peace. Yin, yang. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  10. OneHotMess January 25, 2013 at 3:10 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on One Hot Mess(age) and commented:
    Yes, this, for the past month and it’s been awful. Good things are right around the corner, but getting to them? Is it bedtime yet??

  11. OneHotMess January 25, 2013 at 3:09 pm - Reply

    Oh my gosh! This has been my past three weeks, or more! I know that good things are right around the corner, but…it’s been awful. I must reblog!

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