My Brain Hurts

What has been keeping me up at night . . .

You swear to uphold something, or stand by someone, or support something. It turns out that the thing or person is not at all what it/he/she purported itself to be.

You are at the end of your rope, physically and mentally, but you promised, and you feel that to go back on your promise would make you no better than the other person/thing you are involved in. Maybe you are too proud to say that it is not working. Maybe you are afraid of the repercussions, on yourself and others, of dropping out. You stand by it, even though you don’t understand why it is the way it is, and why it isn’t what you thought it would be, and you don’t understand why things can’t be better, and you are not happy, and you are afraid that you never will be again.

Is there a point where your own sanity and mental health requires you to give up on others? Are you setting a bad example for others by sitting idly by and putting up with a miserable situation out of pride or loyalty or fear? Are you forcing other people to suffer through watching you be miserable?

I’m not exactly sure what it is that I am getting at here. This is not a post about any particular situation or person. It is more about me thinking about the question in a general manner since it has come up for a number of people I know lately, or at least the larger idea of it has come to me in talking with these people over the last couple of years. It seems more and more that I know people in their mid to late 30s who are struggling in their daily lives to get by, and to be happy, and to set a good example for their children. They want to raise happy children, but they are not happy themselves.

Happiness. Is that not the point? Seeking out happiness? If not, what is the point? Martyrdom? If you are not really happy, can you ever really make those around you happy? If you are not happy, can you ever really teach your children to be happy?

My brain hurts.


  7 comments for “My Brain Hurts

  1. November 12, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    I recently had to cancel an event because it just wasn’t working, I was spread way too thin, and it was making me crazy/keeping me up at night. So I guess yes is the answer to your questions.

    Knowing when to stop is part of being a grownup I think.

  2. Cousin of Poo
    November 12, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    I think that there are situations, marriage with children, that you cannot give up on. Those who have parents who are still together, happily I might add, all know of a time when they were miserable together. Well here they are today… leaning on one another and living their lives together, smiling and laughing. That is the best example you can be to your grown child… children will be happy when they are children. I remember times of great sadness when my folks split, but I don’t remember their general unhappiness. We need to know that we will be happy in the end. We need to know that there will be awful times, but we can make it through. We don’t need to be desperately searching later in life for someone to cling to. Parents have just as much influence in their later life on how we live our middle life as they did when we were kids, maybe more.

  3. November 12, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    I struggle with these same questions. I wish I knew the answers. I certainly thought I’d have it all figured out by now.

  4. November 12, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    Thanks, y’all. Yeah, this is making me feel old. I am definitely going to write about something different and happy tomorrow. Looks like more dog posts!~

  5. Kjerstin
    November 12, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    Well, I think happiness is the point.

    I understand Adam’s point, but I am so thankful my parents divorced. My dad was a jerk and later I got to see my mom truly happy in a different relationship. That relationship had a profoundly positive effect on me. If she hadn’t really fallen in love, I may not have know what to look for in my own relationships. Maybe I would have married a jerk too, but instead I believed that there was a great guy out there for me too.

    I do think there is a point where your mental health and of your immediate family make it necessary to give up on people. If you really don’t think it can be fixed and you have really tried to fix it, sometimes quitting a relationship (love, friend, parent, whatever), a job, college, etc, can give you the freedom to find happiness. Why continue to suffer or be that martyr?

    Ah, now my brain hurts.

    I want my kids to see a bit of joy in me every day and to see me and Dan doing things we love both as a family and separately, such as our hobbies and outdoor adventures. I want them to know that you don’t have to give up who you are to be married or to be a parent, that it all has value. I certainly don’t want them to think that marriage, parenting, or anything else in life, for that matter, is just something to endure.

  6. Vanessa
    November 13, 2009 at 12:09 am

    If you can’t model a healthy, loving, respectful relationship for your kids, what’s the point? I’m certainly not suggesting giving up on a relationship as soon as it gets hard. That’s a very different beast from true, unadulterated misery. That serves no one. However, there’s an enormous difference between the occasional disagreement and a fundamental gulf. If you made a mistake, own up to it, don’t perpetuate it. Life is WAY too short for misery.

  7. November 13, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Interesting ideas, guys. I particularly enjoyed reading Adam and Kjerstin’s take on it. Thanks!

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