When You Feel Like Giving Up

Life is damn hard and you'll get no argument to that sentiment on this blog.  Whether you are struggling each day to make ends meet at a crappy job that you hate or struggling with constant physical or emotional pain or struggling to maintain a semi-normal relationship with a crazy family member, each day always has a choice: move forward or stay the same.  Forge ahead, or give up.

Forging ahead isn't always easy.   On those days we decide to change, we decide to march forward and shake things up and break open our futures to see what's there.  Those days are fucking hard.  Choosing to do it can be easy (but not always), but the action of actually doing it?  Geez, you'd think someone asked us to move a mountain.  Because that's exactly what it can feel like.

Getting up and going to work at a job you hate every single day just so you can provide for your family, choosing to educate yourself in any way you can so you can land a better job one day, working all hours of the day and night just so you can make a difference in your own life and in the lives of others, chasing your dreams at the expense of your own personal security, etc., these are all ways in which we choose to keep on moving forward despite feeling like we can't.  Sometimes just getting out of bed each day is that choice.  Sometimes it's choosing to live despite the horrible depression screaming in your ear that you shouldn't.

You've heard of the saying "giving up is the easy way out"?  It's true.  Though giving up doesn't always mean walking away from something that's hard.  Giving up can also mean staying in one place and choosing not to change.

Ask yourself these two questions:

What is best for you?  Leaving an sedentary lifestyle for an active one?  Walking a way from an abuser?  Eating healthier?  Seeing your doctor to get you out of your depression so you can live a happier life?  Doing something daring that scares you but you've always wanted to do it?  Staying in a relationship that's good for you?

Now, what is easy for you?  Staying sedentary?  Staying with your abuser because it's familiar?  Eating junk food because it's cheap and prepackaged?  Staying in bed so your depression gets so bad you end up in the hospital?  Staying safe because your daring dreams contain unknown risk?  Walking away from a good relationship because you refuse to work hard to change?

Let's pretend you've chosen what is best for you (which you may have already chosen).  Remember; choosing it easy, sticking with it is the uphill battle of that mountain you're trying to move.

Now, imagine you're in the midst of that change and you wake up and think "Screw this, I want to go back to sleep and pretend like today doesn't exist."  That's okay.  We all need a break sometimes.  But what about tomorrow?  How can you consistently choose what's best for you when your heart, mind, body, and soul are yelling at you to quit and go back what's easy for you?

I am going to show you two ways to get started...

The first way: get out a pen and a sheet of paper, and we're going to make a list. 

I want you to write down everything you wanted to give up on in life and didn't.  What were the outcomes of these choices?  Did you end up feeling relieved in the end that you didn't give up?  Did your world become brighter, bigger or better because you choose to stick with it?   After you write it down, then jot down the lesson you learned from each one.

Here's my partial list:

  • I got a puppy eight years ago. He was a three month old half black and chocolate lab.  He's pure black, so you'd never know he had any chocolate in him.  But this dog?  He had worms.  Had fleas.  Had a severe chewing problem (who'd have thought that?? *sarcasm*).  And he pooped.  EVERYWHERE.  No matter what I did, or how hard I tried, this dog pooped on every single corner of my house.  He refused to be potty trained.  He had only ever lived with a homeless woman outside, so he never had been in a house before and had no idea that he wasn't supposed to pee and poop wherever he liked.  He also destroyed everything with his mouth.  Let's just call this puppy a nightmare, okay?  (well, we can all puppies that, can't we?).  I placed an ad on Craigslist.  I was done.  I had poop all over my house (we had our carpet covered in those squishy foam puzzle things, so he luckily didn't get any on the actual carpet).  The kids were so mad when I placed the ad online.  They loved him so much.  Hell, I loved him, but I just couldn't do it anymore.  I gave it my best.  I was done.  But one day, after the kids really got on my case about it, I said "Fine, we'll try it again, but we ALL have to chip in and buckle down and get this dog trained TOGETHER.  And we have to stick to a strict schedule and our lives has to be 100% about Buddy until it's done.  Deal?"  They said "deal", but I knew it was going to fall all on me.  They were little kids, what could they do?  But, surprisingly, they did their part.  They chipped in their time and we took that dog out every single half-an-hour until he realized he only peed and pooped outside.  And we got him a cage to use at night.  And it worked!!  That Craigslist ad was pulled down that day we decided to try harder to fix him and now our Buddy is 8 years old and has never pooped in our house since!  He was one of the the the best choices I ever made to not give up on.  I cannot imagine our lives without him 💘 

    The lesson I learned:
    Perseverance will get you everywhere.  Something not working?  Try harder.  Brainstorm new ways to get something done.  Give it your all, if you're able to.  When you put everything you have into one thing for a certain period of time?  That one thing will become your shining star and one of your biggest achievements.  And it will have been worth it.
  • Eleven years ago I met this guy online.  He was a little younger than me (try almost 6 years...) and I had recently left my marriage of 6 years.  I wasn't looking for anyone to date at the time, but we struck up a conversation about something funny he said and we met and started dating. My boys were 3 and 7 at the time.  We met and became instant best friends.  We were so much alike and enjoyed so much of the same hobbies (mostly, we both loved book shopping--and still do!).  We dated for four months before I introduced him to the kids.  I wasn't going to bring a new guy into their lives right after me leaving their father.  They met, and it was...awkward to say the least (the first thing my youngest did was barf on the ground in front of him--talk about a memorable introduction!).  They didn't quite approve of the new guy, which I understood, there were just getting used to me being a single mom.  But on his end, he had never been around kids before and had no idea what to do with them.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good either.  I wanted so much for them all to get along and be happy, but I didn't know what to do.  It wasn't getting any better, so I was prepared to walk away from a relationship with a man I was in love with in order to keep my family together.  I waited it out, to see if it would change, and it just wasn't.  So I made plans to just give up and walk away. 

    But then I thought to myself "Why don't YOU do something about it?" (meaning me).  So I did.  I pulled my boyfriend aside and said "You know, they just want a friend to play with.  They just want your attention and want you to hang out with them and act like a friend."  He looked at me in surprise and said "Oh, I can so totally do that!"  And in that moment, literally that day, he became their best friend.  They fell in love with him and and couldn't wait to see him every single day.  And just like that, our family was born.  Now, eventually he became their dad, not just their best friend (which was a little bit of a rocky transition, as my oldest son has ODD--oppositional defiant disorder--but it's eleven years later and we're doing better than ever with that).  My choice to stay and to take matters into my own hands (instead of just giving up without saying anything) changed our lives forever for the better.  Had I just kept on expecting my boyfriend (now husband) to be psychic and to expect him to know how to do the right thing in the right moment (like most people do with their significant others)?  We'd not be here right now. 

    The lesson I learned:
    Don't expect everyone to know the right thing to say or do in the right moments.  Life is a series of learning experiences, and we all need to help one another find our way sometimes.  Don't hesitate to ask for what you want.  You'd be surprised how quickly life can change when you do.

  • Back in 2008 we had moved into a house that was a crappy neighborhood (never move in the winter!) which was in walking distance of a school that was a block away.  We were homeschoolers, but my ex wasn't keen on this.  One day, he served me papers to bring me to court to have them put back into school.  And rather than let the court tell me what to do, I gladly enrolled them in the one that was near our house.  My anxiety at the time was out of control, but I thought everything was going to be okay.  It had started before all of this, but when it came time for the kids to actually go to school, it spiraled completely out of control.  Moving always made my anxiety super hard to deal with, but now the kids were gone on top of it, and I was left alone for many hours of the day (which was something I was very much not used to) and I felt like I could not survive.  My severe anxiety quickly turned to the most severe depression I've ever had in my life, and I found myself sleeping as a way to deal with it.  It was the only way to escape the indescribable feelings of despair mixed with the intense desire to die.  I didn't want to kill myself, I just simply wanted to die.  I knew I would be better off dead than having to feel the way I did.  And the kids would be better off without mother who couldn't even walk them to school without hyperventilating (on the way home, I had to count my steps from the school to the house in order to keep my mind off of my uneven breathing).  And, at the time, I knew for a 100% fact it was never going to get better.  This was it for me.  (When you feel that bad, or even during a panic attack, you can't imagine feeling better, not even for a moment--it's called catastrophic thinking).  I was going to be the crazy mom forever.  And I was going to probably die from it.

    But I pushed on, feeling like a severely depressed and severely anxious zombie, just going through the motions in each moment until the kids got home from school.  Ate breakfast?  Check.  Brushed my teeth?  Check.  Ate lunch?  Check.  Napped until the kids got home?  Check.  I just kept counting one moment to the next.  Sometimes that's all you can do.  Just live for one more moment.  And then live for another.  Eventually those moments add up to hours and those hours add up to days.  Those days add up to weeks, and then eventually months.  And then summer finally came.  The school year was over and all of a sudden, I wasn't alone anymore.  And I could function again.  I starting painting and working on my book again.  Everything went back to normal.  I still could not drive, not even around the block, but I was functional in every other way.  It was over.  The light at the end of the tunnel wasn't me dying, it was me getting better again.  I really should have been on medication during that time, as it may not have taken so long for me to come back to normal again, but at least I was better. 

    The next school year came, and I was fine.  I was okay with being alone.  I was enjoying my time alone for once, after years of being a stay at home mom and homeschooling.  I was writing on a daily schedule, and creating art like never before.  Eventually the kids were homeschooled again (and still are to this day), but I survived the worst depressive episode I ever had and eventually found happiness again.  I didn't give up.  I just faked it until I made it.  I went through the motions of being human until I felt human again.

    The Lesson I Learned: Two things--1.  Get help.  Do not sit in your house suffering because you're too scared to go get help.  Tell someone what's going on.  I suffered 100% alone because I chose never to tell anyone about what was going on.  I also suffered for nine months straight because I didn't get help.  Don't be like me.  Surviving without medication doesn't make you stronger, it makes you suffer for longer, needlessly.  2.  It does get better.  It always gets better.  October 6, 2013, my friend took her own life because she didn't think it would ever get better.  But it does.  It always does.  So when you're in the middle of an issue--financial, mental, physical, etc.  Know that nothing lasts forever.  And the good parts will eventually come back, even when it feels like they never will again.  You may be stuck in the darkness, but one day, someone will bring lantern to show you the way out.  Or you will find our own way out.  If you have to, just count your steps, and take it one moment at a time.  Those moments will add up and you will eventually find your way back to being yourself again .

And that brings me to technique #2.  

Just hold on for one more day.  You can do this.  If you're struggling, do not think about the final end result.  Think about just getting through one more day.  Don't wonder when this will all be over, just stay present in this moment, right now, and just doing it one more time.  And then when that's over, only think about doing it one more time.

It's quite silly, but on the show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, she said to her sister wife in the bunker when asked how she could stand cranking the crank for days at a time with no sleep, that anyone could stand anything for 10 seconds.  She said she knew she could turn that thing for 10 seconds.  That's all she had to do.  When that 10 seconds was over, she only had to think about doing it for another 10 seconds.  And so on.  She knew if she could get through that 10, she could do the next 10, and the next 10, etc. etc.  That's all she ever had to do, turn that crank 10 times.  That was it.  So, if you can get through an hour without a drink or 20 minutes without smoking a cigarette, or if you can hold on for one more day doing something you hate, that's all you have to do.  You don't think about the end result.  You just hold on for now.  Because soon?  You will have either moved past the hard parts or your life will change for the better.  And if you keep just thinking about the moment you are in, and not the end?  It will be here before you know it.

Then I want you to take out your amazing list of HUGE accomplishments that we just made, and remind yourself: by holding on and following through, great things happen because of it.  Your life got immensely better and now you have concrete proof that you CAN follow through and that you are capable of great things.  That armed with a time frame that you can handle, and you'll be through the hard parts in no time.

And always remember: ask for help.  Nobody does great things alone.  Great things happen because of cooperation.  Don't have anyone to talk to?  Call a hotline for support.  Join a support group on Facebook (there is everything under the sun on there!).  I run a few of my own (one for anxiety and one for adult child of narcissistic mothers and one for bloggers).  I also belong to others that I don't run myself.

(If you're in immediate danger, call 911 or the suicide hotline 1-800-273-8255).  

No matter what it is in your life you may be wanting to give up on (a diet, a relationship, a blog, a hobby, an exercise program, etc.), just try to keep with it for one more day (hour, minute, etc.).  Change the way you're doing it if it's not working.  And realize you've accomplished other things, so you can accomplish this.  Follow through with what's right for you, not just what's easy. 

And if you find yourself reverting to the easy path?  Tomorrow is a new day.  Just start again.  Just remember: you only have to do it for a day, so each day is a brand new start.


This song will help you remember that yesterday's mistakes can always be erased.  Because they don't truly matter. 

And here is a song to listen to when you feel like giving up.  Let this be your anthem for sticking with what's good for you.  Turn it up loud for best results 😁

What do you feel like giving up on right now?  Share it below so I (and others) can encourage you to stick with it instead of reverting back to what's easy 💖

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