For those of you who don’t know (and that’s most of you), I’m a recovering corporate stiff, now professional wife, freelance writer, serial nomad, and mama to two lovelies. It’s easy to romanticize my life. It looks sexy. And sometimes it’s awesome—but other times, it’s unimaginably miserable.
Friends, former colleagues, and my family often ask me how do you manage? You move across the world every 2 to 3 years, don’t have a permanent home, left your career, and you have two kids to care for. How do you keep it together when you want to fall apart?”
Honestly, I just keep going and I often spiral into depression. No one ever wants to say they’re depressed or they have depression. No. That’s for the weak. Strong people carry on and skim over the low period(s). Weak people succumb to it. Everyone has an opinion about depression, and few of them are positive. Today, I’m going to share with you how I thrive despite my crazy life, and how you can too.
1. Accept it.
Your life is not perfect. It may downright suck sometimes. Accept it. Breathe in all of the inconvenient, cruddy, bit so fit. Inhale in all that goop. Then let it go and exhale. Life is short and crappy periods are just that, periods. It may seem like you’re in the muck now but it won’t last for long. So, just accept where you are. Take a look around. “Ok, so you’re standing in some pooh. It looks brown, orange, and green. It’s gross. It feels gross. It smells gross.” As you’re noticing where you are and how horrible here is, you’ll probably also notice a chunk of fresh clean green grass off in the distance. Walk over there.
2. Continue to Move + Grow
You’ve got to keep swimming. Keep moving. Keep growing.
I have two little ones under the age of 3. So, I know how easy it is to relax into the mama trap and to let your life revolve around your kids. You think you’re doing the right thing until one day you wake up to the same routine (or chaos) that you’ve had for as long as you can remember, and you want to gnaw your own breasts off and leave it for someone (anyone) to feed your baby (is that just me??).
Well, after one of these mornings (FYI: I didn’t gnaw my breast off OR leave—I just thought about it), I decided to take a class—any class. That day I signed up for a class on creating a freelance business. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. Even though my life still looked the same, I had a project—something that was mine. And it made all the difference. I was moving and growing. I started to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
3. Get Supported
While we lived in Taiwan, a wave of craziness happened. In 4 weeks, our first baby turned one; I got pregnant, and my husband fell and needed knee surgery. The hubs was bed-ridden for 6 weeks during his recovery. I was constantly standing over the toilet, sick and the baby (now toddler) was running around like a happy 1-year-old. We were a little apartment of chaos in the heart of Taiwan.
What kept me (and my family) going was support. I asked for help, and our friends came through with dinners, childcare, grocery shopping, and just fellowship. Their friendship and support kept my spirits up during the craziness of our lives. During my low moments, I called on friends. I talked to family, and I just reached out and asked for a little support and love. I didn’t need anything but to know I wasn’t alone. Feeling surrounded by love made a huge difference for me.
4. Don’t Fight the Situation
Your life will not always be steady. Things will not always work like you want them to work. You will not always be happy. That’s a given. Growth happens when you realize it’s all good. The happy times are good AND the down times are good. When you can accept the bad times and the great times as just a part of your life, everything gets better because you stop fighting.
Fighting for a good day (for everything going well) is just a waste of energy. At some point, I stopped fighting for a good night’s sleep. After baby #2 joined our family, I just accepted that some nights the baby would sleep and other nights he wouldn’t. I enjoyed sleep when I could get it and learned to cope without it when I couldn’t. By not forcing sleep, the baby found his own sleep rhythm much easier.
There’s a peace when you can accept your current situation without judgement—just relax into the rough spot. Now, I’m not saying to accept the rough spot but when you relax long enough to really see your situation, you can see more options. You can be more flexible, and you can make seemingly difficult decisions more easily. When you’re fighting, all you can do is fight. When you stop fighting, sometimes there are more options for you.
How do I keep it together?
So, to all of you who want to know how I keep it together when I want to fall apart, the answer is I don’t. I don’t keep it together. I have been known to completely lose my ish (ask my husband). People fall apart. It’s human. The lesson I’ve learned is how to pull myself back together after I fall apart.
I pull myself back together four ways. First, accept my lot. Then, I rely heavily on personal growth, whether it’s a book, a class, or a project. I always need something that allows me to advance my mind. Next, I learned a long time ago to get fully supported. I have a complex network of family, friends, and former colleagues who love me. They want to see me succeed and whether it’s just a friendly phone call or a full-blown trip to the grocery store, they are there for me when I need them, and I’m there for them no matter where I am in the world. Finally, I stopped fighting. In judo, you learn to relax into your attacker to use their energy against them. That is exactly how I handle adverse situations. I relax into the crud and use that energy to turn it around.
The next time you fall apart, try these four steps and let me know how they work for you. What helps you when your life seems to fall apart? Leave a comment below.