The sea of life will never stop coming at you. The push and pull never ends. Not in your life, not with your kids, your work, the news, the scandals, the dramas, your relationship, your health, your family. None of it. It all keeps crashing over you day after day. Most days you can swim and dive under the pummeling waves, but there are those days that smash the hell out of you. Mouth full of sand and seawater, you try to catch your breath but you just can’t. It takes all your strength just to survive another wave and another as you fight to keep your head above water. But strength is not limitless, it’s not an eternal well. Sooner or later, the last scraps of energy disappear and you find yourself surrendering to the dark depths. If you don’t slow down, don’t take a breath, don’t stop and take a step back from everything, you will end up breaking into pieces. Pieces that will take a long time to glue back together.
Drowning… It happens to us all.
That place of total and utter overwhelm where your emotions take over and rational thought and logical behaviour flee out the window. You overreact to everything, you cry at nothing, you laugh when you’re not supposed to and don’t when you should. The smallest things send you over the cliff into emotional freefall and you can’t find your way back. You can’t commit to more than one activity in a day, choosing the one that requires the least amount of effort and even that one thing drains all of the scarce energy you have left and you struggle to speak and breathe through any of it.
Because how are you supposed to breathe when your lungs are filled with water?
Numbness. That slow-motion, empty room of inertia where you stumble through your own life, struggling to find a piece of meaning to connect to again. Those long, endless days where you don’t know what you should do and even if you do, you struggle to find the grain of motivation to do it. Because you can’t find the passion or interest in anything anymore. What’s the point? There’s no desire, no need. Just emptiness and auto-pilot.
When you’re stuck in quick-sand, you have no choice but to surrender your survival to those around you who are trying to pull you out.
People will want to help. Let them. People will want to do things for you. Let them. People will manage your life for you while you can’t. Let them. People will tell you what to do. Do it. When you’re stuck in the dark, you have to let the people who love you show you the way back to the light.
And the light is there, above the surface, with all that beautiful air.
It’s closer than you think.
You can avoid those cold, dark depths and find your breath if you just take the time out to put yourself first. If you are letting your partner or kids’ needs be more important than your own, you’re swimming into choppy swells. If you’re letting your work and deadlines and unreasonable amount of commitments interfere with your health, then that undertow is about to drag you down faster than you can blink. If you can’t say no or manage your time effectively or put boundaries in front of other’s expectations of you, then that tsunami is about to crush the life out of you.
You have got to love yourself more than this.
Be honest with yourself and get real about what you can and cannot handle with the amount of energy and resources you have each day. Stop saying yes when you want to say no. Stop making promises you know you can’t keep. Stop taking on responsibilities you know you can’t handle. Stop trying to push yourself further than you know you can go and then hating yourself at the end because you couldn’t do any of it.
You have got to swim back to shore and rest each evening. You have to fill yourself up with the strength and energy you will need every day to tackle that raging ocean. You have got to prepare spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically - like a warrior undertaking an epic quest to face your life every single day. Get your body fit so it can handle the rigours of the swim. Eat & drink nutritious things that will sustain your body for the journey. Rest properly every night and let your body heal and restore for what’s coming next. Switch off everything, even your mind, every day for some silence and introspection and peace. Your brain has to reset and brace itself for all that awareness and decision making it’s going to have to do to keep you alive in that endless swell, day after day.
Stop leaping into the waves when you’re not prepared for the swim because life will knock the life out of you if you let it.