• Cate

Giving Up vs. Letting Go

I have struggled so much in my life. I have been through so much. I have longed for life and death at the same time, if only to feel something. My greatest wish is for someone who loves me to be proud of me. Is there such a thing? I don’t know.

It’s hard to be weighed down by your situation. When there are no more options, what are your choices? When you have exhausted your tool bag, what do you do?

I reached that place this week. I just couldn’t take another thing. All of it is so heavy. Balancing everything that I’m balancing is so heavy. I look towards the future and I can’t see a thing. I don’t know how to get to the next step.

The more overwhelmed I became, the less capable I was of handling my life. I didn’t know what to do. I checked in with my friends, but they are powerless to help and feel so helpless. I am just grateful to have someone to check in with. Their empathy keeps me hanging on, even though I want to quit.

I listened to music, that usually helps. It didn’t. Dancing is getting harder, there are a lot of triggers. It has been long since the time I could sit and meditate without freaking out. Walking didn’t make me feel better. Nowhere I went changed how I felt.

One by one, the things that mended me and carried me through stopped working. I realized that what I was doing wasn’t going to bring me to salvation. No distraction could change that. As the distractions fell away and I sank into depression, I simply couldn’t handle anymore. It was too much. I gave up.

I’m a pretty busy sort. I don’t know what to do with myself when I’m sitting still. It’s why meditation was so marvelous for me. I didn’t have to do anything and it helped because I was sort of doing something.

When I sit and do nothing, I feel guilty. I feel like I should be cleaning or spending time with the kids, or working on a project. Sitting still makes me feel ashamed of myself for being lazy. It’s hard for me to relax.

Most of that is because I have lived in survival mode my entire life. I am aware of everything around me. I’m always listening for the smallest sounds. I’m always watching for body language cues. I react to negative energy.

I can be overly direct when I’m uncomfortable. Aggression of any kind makes me crumble. My over-directness causes people to respond abrasively, which feels like aggression to me. I panic, I feel bad for being too direct. I don’t know how to mend the situation. My brain disconnects from the situation and I worry that I’ve made everyone hate me. I’m too much and not enough at the same time.

This is the state of mind that I operate in. I have always operated this way. The closer someone gets to me, the more afraid I become. I push people away before they can see what a horrible person I am. I don’t want to risk hurting anyone. I shut down. I back away.

Trauma did this to me. I'm not actually a horrible person. But knowing it doesn’t change anything. I have made huge gains in healing some of the damage. But there’s a long way still to go. The hardest thing for me to accept is that I have exhausted my options.

When it came to giving up, I didn’t quite know how to do it. I wondered if there were conditions? Could I give up, but not give up on my kids? How could I ensure my kids would be safe if I gave up? Was there a way to give up and still function for the kids?

Though my mind begged me to end it all, though it pleaded for release, I just couldn’t go through with seriously planning my death. If I died, who would keep the kids safe? Wouldn’t I realize too late what I’d done, when my life was about to leave me? No, this wasn’t the way. But what was the way? What was the proper way to give up?

I considered drugs and alcohol. That’s definitely not for me. I don’t like pills. The only reason I took my thyroid medication was because I would have died if I didn’t fix it. I don’t like to be drunk. I don’t like to feel as though I’ve lost control. No, I couldn’t scare up an addiction to nurse me through.

I considered checking out. But how could I take care of my kids if I stopped being mom? Denial? Nah, I’m too concerned about the truth to deny it. Crazy? Nope, the kids would suffer.

I kept coming back to the idea that the kids would suffer if I gave up. The first thing that happened was that I resented the kids. But only for a minute. It occurred to me to be ever so grateful for them. How lucky I am to have them to keep me going?!

But hope is still lost to me. How do I find hope? Saying that things will get better doesn’t help at all. It’s been so long, I’ve tried so hard, how will it, how CAN it get better? Saying that this is temporary doesn’t help.

I can’t just give up. But I can’t keep pushing myself this way either. I’m trying to heal. The stress of the situation is exacerbating the PTSD. If I’m not careful, my mind will start dissociating.

The only thing I could come up with was to stop working the problem. I need to let go of the problem. The problem itself is an amalgamation of a variety of conditions and sometimes polarized variables. The solution is not to be found inside the problem.

No, this one is out of my hands. I can’t work the problem like I’m used to working problems. This time I need to work the solution. I need to manifest the solution.

How do I do that? With the goal in mind, I let go of the problem. It’s my only choice. I can’t give up on life. I can’t give up on my kids. But I can give up throwing my life at the problem. If I stop doing that, what can I accomplish? Where can I get?

So I take a break from thinking about the problem. I’m not out of risks to take, that’s for sure. There are ways to creep by for the moment. The idea is to willfully step away from the problem. What will I do instead? Stay busy. Learn to be still.

I’m going to stay busy until I can trust myself to be still in the moment. I am going to be brave and face my fear. What’s the alternative to freaking out? It is to hold onto the fear until it’s not scary anymore. It is to shift your attention to the thought you’re running from. It is to accept that you may not be able to do this alone. Let it all burn away.

Can I solve this? In my current state? No. I have to let go of the problem long enough to let myself heal back to okay. Letting go is so hard, but it’s the only answer left.

So I’m going to leave everything alone for awhile. I’m going to do what I need to do and find a way to free my mind from the stress. I’m not going to forget what the goal is. I’ll never stop trying to give my kids their best chance. But I need to give myself my best chance too. Ignoring my needs is not going to save them.

The world isn’t going to end if I take the next week or so off from working the problem. Things may actually be a lot more manageable on the other side of a break. As hard as it is to let it go, that is the only solution left.

Letting go is the alternative to giving up. There is no snapping out of it. It’s real, but I need to let go of the idea that this problem is fully in my control. It’s not. New information will present itself. I can be patient. I must be patient. Worrying will only have negative affects on my mental health.

The path to healing is not easy, but it is a worthy venture. The proof of my healing is right here in this essay. My mind is too strong to fully give up. It is holding on to more than the kids. This is a very good sign.

So although it’s more than I can bear at the moment, there is another choice besides giving up. I have to risk missing a breakthrough in the the struggle to take a break from it. I can only hope that there is still a chance for an even better breakthrough once I’ve gained my composure.

There is another side. Although I cannot see it, I believe that it is a positive outcome. It just has to be. My feet are firmly on the path and I will wend my way through the darkness. This journey will only make me that much stronger, yet ever more tender and compassionate than before. May it continue long hence.


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