Run through midnight dunes with sparklers
or lie down on the dark shore and let life wash over you?
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.
Succumbing 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 engage 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)