When I'm Emotionally Overwhelmed, I Shut Down
Being a parent really is like being on an emotional rollercoaster that never freakin’ ends. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I bought tickets and camped out in line during rain or shine for my turn to climb aboard this wild ride. But that doesn’t mean I can’t find this parenting ride — along with all of the other added chaos in my life — emotionally difficult and wearing. Because I do.
Day in and day out, there are new loops and turns to face. Some are good, fun, funny, thrilling and joyful; they are so wholesome that I’m sure my heart might just bust at the seams. There are some in a tunneled path that are scary, unanticipated and leave me feeling like my heart might just bottom out. The rest are just your everyday bumps and trials of life.
As a mother, every demand is stacked against me. The dishes are piled high daily, my name is always being called in the seconds I need silence the most, there’s never an hour that passes without a tiny-human butt to wipe, and laundry consistently lives out of its baskets. All the while, I’m also juggling work, marriage, relationships with friends and family, personal health, and keeping tabs on my family’s health, hygiene and well-being too.
And sometimes, it all becomes too much.
When I feel this way, when my emotional state begins to build and build, and I’m emotionally drained by every extra bit of chaos in my life, I shut it all down instead of riding out these things I cannot control.
The phone calls and text messages go ignored. I stay in my own bubble while everyone around me is pressing forward. I let the emails pile high, allow my house to fall into shambles, and almost make loved ones believe I could make it through this life without them when I could not.
I miss much-needed brunches and get-togethers with my mom friends, those people I care so deeply for, who I know might need my help with their own personal baggage. And, selfishly, it’s because I have too much going on within the depths of my own mind that I can’t process the thought of adding one more bloody thing to my to-dos.
I’m short, snappy, and impatient with loved ones, and they are the ones who suffer because of it.
It’s my survival mechanism. Almost like a child who covers their ears, closes their eyes and begins to scream to avoid the overstimulation of big emotions they are feeling.
Because if you’re oblivious to what’s around you, you’re emotionally immune to the toll of it all. In my fight or flight circumstances, I guess I’ve been choosing to emotionally flee.
I’m not saying it’s healthy, either. And the thing is, I’m not really shutting down anything or anyone else but myself, am I? I don’t hold the kind of power to make my life go perfectly round and round, and I can’t put my world on pause … the ride keeps going. I’m there, only I’m not really there, either. I ostracize myself from everyone I care for and all that I care about, and I miss out because of it.
I intentionally strip myself from being able to see and feel the bad, because I feel it all so intensely, but it deprives me from so many good things in life because of it, too. So many wholesome lapses in time that I will never get back because I spent them shut in and emotionally-secluded.
Instead of grabbing the handlebars and powering through the daily obstacles, when it’s too much, I quit. I zombie my way through these emotionally-draining stages of life, and it’s never done me any favors.
I miss playing with my kids because I can’t possibly imagine adding one more to-do onto my to-do list. I don’t go to the movies with my mom, because even that fun idea can feel so damn stressful when I’m emotionally capacitated to my wit’s end.
My work-at-home and outside-of-the-home gets pushed off, and when I’m finally ready to face it, I’m stuck staring at a steep, sky-high climb rather than what would have been a steady slope. And again, it’s. Too. Much.
The missed phone calls are still there, as are several new and old ignored text messages. My absence at get-togethers and brunches is felt by my friends, and I’m left cleaning the wreckage that I alone manifested. I spend time attempting to make up for lost moments, knowing full-well that I can’t.
But I can, and do, vow to do better. I push through the emotionally brutal areas on this life’s wild ride and work like hell to recognize the loops and turns ahead, all so I’m better able to enjoy the moments that fulfill my soul and my little people’s souls too.
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