One show I enjoy watching (when I have cable) is Monk, maybe because I have OCD Lite. You know, the desire to make things perfect and clean but not the dedication.
In one episode, Monk has an obsessed fan portrayed by Sara Silverman. She follows him on a case and in the middle of a shoot out yells, “TIME OUT! I don’t wanna play anymore!” and proceeds to try to leave.
When I was in Girl Scouts I learned a lot of lessons, very few came with a merit badge. The most important lesson was probably when our scout leader stole the cookie money but that’s a story for another time. One day sticks in my mind, we used to meet in the school cafeteria and play tag and once a particular member of our pre-adolescent troop would throw a fit every time she was tagged and quit the game. Each time we would restart the game and she would join us until she was tagged (again) and would quit (again).
Life has a funny way of making us want to throw up our hands and quit. To stop and sit on the ground and pout or run away from it all.
There’s nothing wrong with taking a break and getting a breather. Even the best athletes get a time out. Even the president has Camp David. We all need our rest and relaxation between stretches of life.
But how do we deal with life and those much needed breaks?
Letting life get SO overwhelming we just plop down and revert to the terrible twos is less than becoming, especially if such a meltdown happens in public.
Besides, life has a way of getting back at you. Like Sara, it could drag you back to face reality – life is not a video game and “pause” is rarely a viable option in crises. Or like my Girl Scouter you can pretend to be out of the game but you’ll just get tagged again.
We can’t quit every time life gets scary or doesn’t turn out exactly how we expected.
How I deal
I get this question from a lot of people, usually in relation to working four jobs but recently concerning my escalating pain and personal frustrations.
Despite the troubles I face, perspective always brings me back to reality. I have food and drink, shelter and safety. Life isn’t perfect but it’s a lot better than what many people experience.
We’re a nation of whiners but while I won’t downplay my pain or frustrations, I do remember this is only a season of my life. I very clearly remember a difficult time in my life when I curled up under a desk and cried for what seemed like hours. As I move through my life I tell myself “at least I’m not under the desk!”
At this time I can’t rely on escapism, my workload won’t allow it. So instead of dreaming of that deserted (except for cabana boys) island in the Caribbean, I retreat to my office, the car or the backyard. I may not get to run around Disneyland this year and smack Goofy on the butt, however, I can hop on the swings at the park and get a thrill of the whooshing air throwing my hair back.
I also watch a lot of movies when I can’t sleep, working at a video store has its perks. Sometimes that hour and twenty minutes while I work on my filing or clip coupons is enough to refresh me. Dramas remind me my life is pretty good (no drug dealers or dirty cops in MY life), Disney animated movies take me back to a time when my biggest worry was if Sleeping Beauty would wake up and Comedies make me smile despite myself.
Writing becomes therapy for me, a way to push my frustrations on a fictional character and let them handle it in ways I cannot. Focusing on a writing project gives me creative power over something and yet the ability to let it all go once it’s submitted.
Little breaks work wonders but long breaks are detrimental. I work well under pressure, that’s just a fact. If I had no deadlines and all the time I would never get things accomplished. For example, I was out of a job from December 17th last year through February 21st. I worked maybe three temp assignments and went on half a dozen interviews. I had a gym membership I never used. I didn’t volunteer. I didn’t call friends. I had resumes I never sent. I kept the house clean but didn’t organize much. Most telling during this time is I did not write. Despite finishing a very rough draft of a novel in December I was not motivated to edit or rewrite it one iota.
Maybe I’m making up for what feels like wasted time. Maybe I realize now that when my life is full to the point of bursting I’m happy that I can manage it all. But when the needle tips toward OVERWHELMED I deal with it and jump right back into life.
How do you deal with life? What helps you when times are rough?