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WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU’RE IN A DARK HOLE AND YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’LL NEVER GET OUT

community mental health parenting self-care spirituality Feb 08, 2024
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU’RE IN A DARK HOLE AND YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’LL NEVER GET OUT

Originally published Apr. 23rd, 2023. Written by Amanda Diekman.

 

Exhaustion, frustration, endless needs and demands. You reached the end of your rope about a mile back. This was not what you thought it would be like. There’s not enough in the tank, but also not enough to even figure out what else to do. It’s like Groundhog Day, one exhausting day after another. No one seems to understand. No one else is struggling like this. You feel ashamed and alone.

This world was not set up for parenting experiences like yours. We are told that one or two parents can manage all the needs. That it’s easy, and requires no special training, and if you’re struggling with it, that’s your fault. We’re told to “get help,” but waitlists are months long and insurance refuses to cover, and every decision requires executive functioning and emotional energy that is just not there right now.

It’s not just you. It’s really not. It’s me. It’s hundreds of other parents messaging me daily. Thousands more, suffering silently through another exhausting day. It’s all of us, alone, siloed, cut off from a primary source of support we deeply need: other parents who get it. Thousands of parents shamed and blamed for being bad parents, making wrong choices, by the very Child Therapy Establishment meant to be our primary support system.

 

THE WAY OUT

The way out is release, surrender, acceptance. You’ve been treading water in the deep end for too long, and now I want you to learn to float. Not to escape the deep waters. Not to exit the pool or buy a fancy boat. I want you to experience that your body was made for this. That you are flexible and buoyant enough to release those long held muscles and relax into life in these deep waters. It sounds crazy. You’re sure you will sink, and you will, sometimes. But the breath inside you will lead you back to the surface.

People will call you crazy, floating out there in the deep end when everyone else is safe on the edge. But you will know that floating is a rare treat, and only those brave enough to risk the depths know the joy of floating. People will say that your children will drown out here, and how will they ever learn to walk on the land like everyone else if you don’t fight and claw your way to the shallows. But you will know that they were born for deep places, and they’re not land creatures anyway.

 

THE FIRST STEP TOWARD FLOATING

When in your day are you drowning the most? What asks are you making of yourself that feel hardest to bear? What weights are tied to your ankles that keep pulling you under? You first step toward floating is dropping some of those weights.

 

It may be the belief that you are a bad parent.

It may be the effort to enforce time out.

It may be the expectation of a tidy home.

It may be the pressure of “healthy food.”

It may be the pressure to be perfect for your spouse.

 

What muscles can you release? Can you feel the water holding you up? Can you even relax and enjoy the sensation? Can you look around and find other parents floating in the same deep end as you? Perhaps a wave or a smile to say, “I see you. You’re doing it.”

 

Why is everything so hard?

 

Take this quick quiz to find out where you're getting stuck in your challenging parenting life and one next step to move forward with confidence.

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