“In chaos, there is fertility.” ~Anais Nin
How did I get to this point?This question pulsed through my brain repeatedly as I drove to my parents’ house in a state of complete exhaustion. My young daughter was strapped in the back seat, my pregnant belly pushing against the steering wheel, hot tears streaming down my face.I was done. I had nothing left to give. How did I get here?Gradually, then suddenly.
With eternal gratitude to Hemingway, three simple words so elegantly summarize how I ended up in a situation I didn’t want or expect.
“How did you go bankrupt?”
“Gradually, then suddenly.”
~Ernest Hemingway (The Sun Also Rises)
It happened so gradually, almost imperceptibly. And then suddenly, unequivocally, shockingly, I had suffered an emotional breakdown.Looking back, I can see that I had willingly immersed myself in anxiety, perfectionism, comparisons, sleep-deprivation, a lack of mindfulness, poor health, and the idea that I deserved more from life.Gradually, these things took their toll. Until suddenly I found myself in a dark and frightening place.
This gradual, then sudden decline is not reserved for dramatic breakdowns. It’s not reserved for high-achievers, or emotionally sensitive people.We each face sudden declines. Moments where we realize what we’ve been neglecting, treating poorly, or taking for granted. It could be our:
Health – the moment we step on the scales, try to walk three flights of stairs, or look at a recent photo.
Addictions – the moment we realize we cannot cut ties to a substance, an emotion, or a person.
Debt – the moment we are brave enough to look at our credit card statement, answer the debt collector’s phone call, or realize we’re living beyond our means.
Clutter – the moment we realize how materialistic we’ve become, how much money has been spent on stuff, or how entitled our children are.
Time – the moment we realize we’ve watched more than sixty days worth of television in a year, the months are passing with little to show for it, or the reflection in the mirror is ten years older than we remember.
Relationships – the moment we realize we haven’t spoken to our best friend in months, seen our grandmother since Christmas, or played CandyLand with our kids.
Either we’ve stopped paying attention to what’s important, or we’ve decided that not knowing the truth of our situation is preferable to seeing the reality.Unfortunately for us, there will come a moment when things snap back into focus. And that moment will build gradually and arrive suddenly, leaving us reeling.
(continued at): Today Can Be the Day You Turn Things Around.