I know I’ve convinced you that I have it all together (pretend I have convinced you). Check marks in all the check boxes. Ducks in a row. Balanced mind. Balanced bank account. Clean floors and countertops. Career on point. Rock solid marriage. Mother of the year. A regular Susie Sunshine. Truth? I’ve been overwhelmed lately.
Overwhelmed is a less scary word for anxious. It happens to the best of us. To help the uninitiated understand, here’s a visual: imagine a trunk full of helium balloons tied to long strings, stuffed in your car. Every one of those balloons represents an emotion, worry, responsibility, unanswered text message, etc. Your job is to pull the balloons out without getting them tangled. It’s a windy day. You open the door, grab the strings and hold on tight. Some balloons pop scraping against the car. One balloon escapes your grasp, floats quickly up into the sky. An onlooker sees this, yells at you, says you are hurting the environment (they are also overwhelmed, hence their frustration. Resist the urge to yell “jerk”).
If you were in your logical, healthy mind, you’d realize your inability to remove these balloons untangled from your vehicle during a wind storm is not a failure; it’s an exercise in futility. Such is life. You should stop and appreciate how beautiful those shiny balloons are, bopping into one another in the breeze, making a hollow bounce sound, stretching toward the sky, each one held with nothing more than a skinny string. Fragile but firm. Floating, yet tethered. You won’t appreciate that though. Not yet. You’re still buying into your overwhelmed hype.
I’m almost (not quite) on the other side of this feeling as I write this, but the key point here is I will get to the other side of it. I know that. There is a cure for being overwhelmed: simply surrender.
First, I get angry. Anger is healthy. Name it. Own it. Honour it. Anger is quite empowering when channeled properly. I am excellent at it. I get very clear with my words. No blaming. No shaming. Just an honest unpacking of “this is too much for me right now.”
I don’t break down, I break open. Big difference. You can’t grow if you’re stuck. There are tears. This is a good thing. Let’s end the stigma that crying is weakness. People who perpetuate that myth are afraid of their own emotions. Honest emotions require deep courage. Own that too.
Then, I separate each balloon. I release some, watch them float away. I poke others with a pin, just for the thrill of hearing them explode. Release. And then I calm down. Eat chips. Nap. Turn my phone off. Don’t text back. I don’t fake my energy for anyone. Peace out. Peace in. Heal.
Overwhelmed happens to all of us sometimes. Stuff gets tangled up quick. Some things pop. Some stuff just floats away. It’s meant to. That’s not an easy perspective to have when you’re holding balloons in the middle of a wind storm, but it is the truth. Good or bad, variables change all the time. That’s life.
Growing up is hard at every age, but it’s kind of the point, right? We’re always learning. We’re always growing. Lessons shape us. Take good care of who you’re becoming.