Creep

This morning I was sitting in Starbucks reading the daily lesson from the Mondo Beyondo Dream Lab, and I found myself crying. Right there, curled up with my beloved laptop, in a chair in front of the door where people were running in and out, tears coursed silently from my eyes and splashed heavily onto my cheeks.

The post, by Andrea Scher, discussed two kinds of quitting. The sentiments she expressed in her piece cut to the quick, not because I’m at any real risk of quitting anything, but because I feel myself once again reaching the limits of my capacity to cope. The last couple of weeks I’ve been riding the edge of my emotions, so much is happening, while at the same time so much is not. I’ve been trying to focus on the tools I’ve learned—to slow down, ride it out, focus on the moment rather than becoming overwhelmed by what might come. While at the same time, there are small pockets of beauty, and real, intense knowing, knowing that I don’t have time to act on.

It’s not enough. My days are simply too full, and all the things I have to be doing seamlessly override all the things I should be doing. Before long, hours become days and weeks and it all overflows.

I call it creep, a fog that swirls and rolls along the edges of my mind, gently caressing and teasing. It folds in and out, searching for a crack, anything to let it drift in. It’s brings doubt, shame, sadness and guilt. In abundance. The really odd thing is that the fog seems very appealing, almost a cover to hide from it all.

In her piece, Andrea wrote about the notion of quitting as deep surrender:

There is a quitting that is like throwing your hands in the air, shouting I GIVE UP! and with passion only reserved for things we still deeply  want, we say I am out of ideas.

This is how I feel when I say that my coping mechanisms aren’t working, because there is simply no time to use them. It’s spring, and a time when I should be feeling a fever pitch of energy and contentment, instead I’m held back by a growing frustration with the pace of my life.

I feel trapped by a way of living that isn’t working and I truly see no way out. It’s oppressive.

There is this little voice inside of me that keeps saying “Suck it up, push through, you can do it. Millions before you have, millions more will after you.” And I want to tell that voice to shut up. Why do I have to be like everything else? Why do I have to judge myself so? Even worse, I wonder why I can’t just do it. Why can’t I muster the energy? Why don’t I know what to do, and since I don’t how do I find the help I need to discover it?

This creep, it’s defeat. It’s knowing that I can’t dig deep and pull it off. I just can’t. Yes, I want to throw my hands in the air, and just give up.

So now what?

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25 thoughts on “Creep

  1. Christa says:

    I don’t know, for sure, what’s next.

    I do know you are not alone. I know we have mutual friends who feel that way, I know I do – down with food poisoning, not much I can do but ponder. No answers yet.

    We’ll get to where we need to be, though. I trust that. And you.

    XOXO

  2. Patricia says:

    Trust the Universe. “We create ourselves. The sequence is suffering, insight, will, action, change.” – Allen Wheelis

    I felt like this a couple Saturdays ago. Take a breath. Meditate. Take a break. Trust the Universe.

  3. ShannonL says:

    Wow. Love how you just spit it all out there from your heart to the keyboard to the screen. It’s like I can hear the conversation you are having with yourself inside your head!

    I think you still have way-too high expectations of yourself. You want to do everything, be everything… NOW. I know you love writing, and the book idea in theory sounds great, but to me it seems that you are taking on too much too fast again. You need time for yourself – not to write or do hobbies – but maybe just to *reflect*. Are you still doing the meditation classes?

    I can understand how this “creep” or fog can seem appealing… like a security blanket. It makes us want to just give up everything and crawl in a hole or hide in our beds. But you can’t let it cover you. You are a shining star and you have the tools to rise above this creep.

    I wish I had answers, but for now I just send you hugs. xo

  4. All I can say is… I understand. That feeling of being overwhelmed. Just too much to do no matter how you prioritize, how you slice things out, how you plan. And I think the (normal) emotional response is, in a way, perhaps a fight-or-flight biological response; when we’re simply too exhausted to fight on (or what is chasing us is bigger, stronger, scarier), then flight is about survival.

    We want to throw our hands up in the air and say I GIVE UP!

    I felt this just yesterday. So strongly, that I nearly did just that. And then I said to myself. No. I am not a quitter, and this is too important.

    There are times when we’re crushed by the “everything,” Christine. So crushed we can’t think. We can’t make the quiet space to think. The desire to quit is a self-protective one, not cowardly, and I believe, absolutely natural. But then the adult brain needs to find a way to step outside, look things squarely in the eye and reduce them to their real size. One. At. A. Time.

    If we’re lucky, we have a friend, a spouse, a family member, a therapist – to help us do this. And if not, I believe we still have a shot at doing it. But it may mean accepting that something has to be let go – temporarily. That something may be time spent where our hearts reside. It may mean accepting a lower quality of performance in another arena. It may mean asking for help. It may mean choosing STOP – even if a temporary one – which is different from crawling under the covers and allowing the fog to take over.

    Rest, Christine – if you can, which sounds contradictory with what I’ve just rambled out, and also, with the demands on your time which suggest that rest is impossible. Cut yourself whatever slack you need in your very high expectations of self to take that breath and reduce the obstacles to a manageable size.

    And even if that means you do call time out for awhile, climb under the blankets, and stay for a bit – ask yourself what you have to gain from that, and ask yourself what the worst is that can happen. If the worst isn’t so bad, and the gain is good, perhaps the “creep” is exactly what you need?

    Just some thoughts. For whatever they may be worth.

  5. Michelle says:

    Christine, as Christa said, I do know you’re not alone: both because you have a great community here, and because many of us have felt — and sometimes still do — as you do. This is not intended to discount your feelings’ importance or impact.

    I also agree with Patricia about the need to trust the Universe: I’ve found that if you’re feeling overwhelmed and at a crux, it often means something is about to change in a major way. Try to let go and trust that, and see what happens next…

    Warmly,
    M

  6. Natalie C M says:

    I’m not sure I’ve got answers or magic words. Wish I did. I often feel like you do. It maybe small comfort to know that you are not alone. Also know that the honesty of your post brought me some comfort. Trust your Self. It knows where it’s taking you.

  7. Justine says:

    I’m with BLW – quitting doesn’t mean you have to give up everything you have going in your life. It may just mean you need to ease up on one or two things, to allow room to breathe, to grow and to achieve better clarity in how to forge ahead. Would it be possible for you to let go of certain tasks/duties/goals for now and fill that space up with rest?

    I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately too and many things are NOT going as planned so I’m a bit nervous, but instead of seeing it as a sign for me to just give up, I am hoping it would teach me to accept defeat in certain areas gracefully while charging ahead in full speed on others that truly, truly matter. The thing is to know the difference between the things that really matter to our hearts that could bring long-term satisfaction and happiness and the ones that are but a fleeting gratification.

    I wish you rest and I wish you peace Christine. I also hope you will find what you’re looking for. XOX

  8. Lindsey says:

    I don’t know … I wish I did. But I can tell you you aren’t alone – and that through continued, determined pursuit of what matters (which I SEE you doing, I swear) you will muddle through. That has to be true, because I’m in that same forest with you. Or a similar forest.
    Totally inarticulate comment, and I’m sorry, but I wanted to say I’m here, I know what you mean, and I’m learning from you every time I come here.
    Thank you.
    xox

  9. I don’t know. I’ve been dealing with similar issues – living a way of life that’s not working but there’s no way out. It’s draining. I feel empty.

  10. Sometimes relinquishment (not exactly the same thing as giving up, but a distant cousin perhaps) is best.

    I struggle with this too. Over my two week Spring Break, I had fun with my kids and did a lot of writing. But I did virtually no house or yard work. When the final weekend came, I was overcome with grief. My house was dirtier and I was farther behind in marking. I felt guilt about this, about the shoulds. It dawned on me Sunday morning that Perfection’s bedfellows are guilt and pride.

    Now that I’m back into a routine, it’s a bit better.

    It’s a lot of work to move forward consciously, isn’t it?

    Thinking of you!

  11. denise says:

    I wish I had the most insightful advice to offer to you my friend. As you know, I’m so empathetic because of my own struggles through similar emotions and depression. I think the best thing you can do is exactly this. Here–saying it. Sharing it. Letting those emotions have their voice. The voice might just be the voice of you…the true you. Sending love and hugs, as always.

  12. Chris, I talked about this very thing over at Postpartum Progress today: http://www.postpartumprogress.com/weblog/2011/04/happy-mom-aiming-low-going-slow-with-postpartum-depression.html

    Here’s the part I think applies most to your question–why can’t I muster up the energy? I had a very similar feeling when my oldest were 2 and an infant. I felt like I was walking through mud, and the simplest things were almost impossible to do sometimes. Over at PPP I said: “I wanted desperately to be a good mom, and had huge plans for the kind of perfect, patient, loving, crafty, all-natural parent I wanted to be. But actually trying to be that perfect mom was so exhausting it was all I could do to get out of bed in the morning. Every day, I’d fail to live up to my own expectations, and the more I failed, the worse I felt, and the worse I felt, the less I felt capable of and the less energy I could muster up. By February, I was staring at my computer screen most of the day with the shades drawn and the apartment a complete pit. I remember crying almost every night that month and the next, apologizing to my two-year-old son Jacob, and promising him I’d do better the next day.”

    and…

    “Sometimes trying harder doesn’t actually get you where you’re going any faster. It just tires you out and makes it that much harder to rally again when you fall down.”

    Setting small goals I could actually achieve was the answer for me. With every success I got a boost of confidence and energy and was able to eventually pull myself up and out of the murk. But it was turtle pace, not hare-speed.

  13. Chantal says:

    Hugs Christine, just hugs!

  14. Oh how I don’t know either.
    It’s hard. I just want to validate you. Because it’s just hard.

    And you are beautiful and just as messy as the rest of us and I love you.

  15. Tracey says:

    No words of wisdom here, but sharing this song/mantra seemed appropriate. I absolutely love not only the song, but the story behind it. I also love Andrea Scher; she is a special lady.

    http://www.zefrank.com/chillout/

    Oh, but about that voice – you should tell it to shut up. Because all of those “millions of other people” that have pushed through whatever they had to push through most assuredly had some kind of back story that the rest of us never see; either their own silent suffering or other people holding them up or other parts of their lives that they’ve put on the back burner, for better or worse. Nobody really has their shit together as much as they would like the rest of us to believe. Seriously. They don’t.

  16. Melissa says:

    I don’t know what’s next, but I notice this: you are shining a light into the fog, right here, right now. Perhaps that will dissipate it just a little, and push it back just a little bit more.

  17. I have the Creep, too. I hate it, but I do like your name for it. I wish it were curable.

    But you are doing hard work, Christine–hard work on your life and yourself and seeking that balance we all struggle so hard to attain. I can’t help but think you’re going to prevail. xo

  18. We all go through this from time to time. The things I use to cope are walking every day. (This week, not so much.) But seriously, you need to add in some exercise. Not for weight, but for sanity. See it as a time to meditate. It’s good for your whole body. Vitamins. Fish oil. I’m telling you, that stuff is awesome. Laughing. A funny show or movie or book or something. I realize I don’t laugh gutturally enough. That can keep you going for a while.

    I’m not saying I have all the answers, but I’ve tried to do things to keep myself afloat after post-partum depression. I don’t want that feeling to come back. And sometimes, there are just down days. Days when you feel listless and don’t know what to do with yourself and don’t know whether you’ll be cheery again. The last time I had a day like that, I drank a big margarita. It worked. And the next day was better.

  19. I’m with Tracey – tell that voice, gently but firmly, to KNOCK IT OFF. That voice is most likely either the anxious 3 year old inside of you OR the ever-efficient but totally dysfunctional parent you once had and who has taken up a sort of twisted residence within your spirit. I came over here from “Graceful” today, having enjoyed your guest post and wanting more. And boy, did I find it! Thanks for your honesty and your lovely writing. That voice is not your friend just now and you need to tell it so – out loud, if you need to. “Back off, I’m doing the best I can and I don’t need your critical noise just now.” All of your friends’ suggestions are good ones – taking walks, meditating, prayer, activities that have proven themselves nourishing to you. And, of course, wherever you can squeeze it in – rest for body and soul. And I LOVE the idea of laughter – rent a really funny movie or read a book that has made you laugh in the past – or just sit and watch/listen as your kids go about their stuff. It’s the best medicine in the world. Blessings as you find your way through the creeping fogginess of life these days. And KEEP WRITING ABOUT IT.

  20. Hey Christine, I just want you to know that I totally get this and that you are absolutely not alone. I think this is a common complaint of women in this day. My sister claims that feminism failed — she keeps raning and raving about that. I tend to agree. Sure, feminism got us a respectable place in the workplace, but did it balance out all our other responsibilities, too. No…it just added a professional career and ambitions right onto everything else.

    I could go on and on. But I won’t, because it will probably drag you further into depression (and me with you!). For me, what helps is to say no to perfectionism…and to say no to a lot of other stuff – like having a clean house, and volunteering in my kids’ classes, and being a member of the PTO (or even being slightly aware of what the PTO is doing these days). And I also ask my husband for help, cause no matter what, he’s never going to notice the laundry basket unless I point it out!

  21. harrietglynn says:

    All I can say is IMO, “This too shall pass.” I hope is has. I am on a NO ROLL as I try to stop feeling obligated to do things that are supposed to be fun but aren’t because I feel like I have to go to them or even do them. I’ve been offered blogging gigs that pay $30-40 a post and realized hwo much work that it for next to nothing in pay. I’ve stopped responding to any PR that does not jive with what I do. I’m about to stop commenting on everyone’s blog. I may even take my blog down and start a new one – it might be called something like MyBigFatNeuroses – haha … And that’s just my online life. Anyway, enough about me, hope you’re feeling better about things.

  22. Christine,

    First, hugs. I don’t have any answers, but I can tell you I’ve had that kind of creep too. It does sneak up and there were times I gave into it and embraced it for what it is. I know what happens next. This feeling of creep – It will pass.

  23. Amber says:

    What helps me is remembering that (most of the time) there is no deadline on my dreams. I am running my own race, going at my own pace, and being the best me I can be. So my progress may not look like everyone else’s. Things may take longer, or come out differently. And that’s OK. So when I’m at the breaking point I ask myself if my inability to accomplish what I set out to is actually an issue, or whether I’m imposing expectations on myself that aren’t working.

    The other thing is that sometimes I think surrender is good. Sometimes we CAN’T do it all ourselves. So whether we’re calling on our partners, our community, God, or whatever, maybe we need to do that. Maybe we need to have a time of letting go of our need to be independent and autonomous and always, always on top of things.

    Be well.

  24. […] It is something many of us understand, as reflected in responses from other women. […]

  25. Kate says:

    When I feel backed into a corner in life, unable to shift to a comfortable place, oh, how I hate it! My mind reels, blaming everyone, filled with anger ( some righteous, some not) and sticks in the icky gloom.

    There is no corner. It’s all my own damn mental labyrinth, and once I actively think differently (even if that is a I give up moment), the world shifts and there is a way forward.

    That’s not to say there aren’t real and deep issues I stubble with. There are.

    Peace to you.

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