Hitting the Wall: A Lesson in Facing Overwhelm

Jan 30, 2023
woman sitting on a sofa with a surprised look on her face. A red car has crashed through the wall next to the sofa scattering bricks and debri over the living room floor.

(This story was first publish in July 2021 when my blog was on different platform. I thought it was a timely story so wanted to continue to share it.)

Let me start by apologizing. Seems I’ve done too much of that lately. Apologizing for not getting things done on time that is. But I truly was “hitting the wall.” That’s my excuse, if you can call it that, for not publishing anything new for months.

Life never goes as planned. We have all experienced that, right? Especially over the last year and a half. Even our attempts to get back on track can be more time consuming and frustrating than those unexpected events that interfere with our plans.

Planning Ahead Wasn’t Enough

I knew returning to the classroom last fall would put a damper in my productivity. Teaching online was new to me. New to my high school students. We had much to learn and a short time to do it in.

I tried to plan for it. I mapped out a schedule for future posts. I outlined my topics. I gathered photos to use to support my storylines. I even made attempts to follow my own advice about using downtime.

But my education director, my students, my husband and my family had other plans for me. Old patterns are hard to break. And being a fairly responsible person, I did my best to meet the demands they placed on me.

Afterall, these are the people I love and serve. They depend on me in many, many, different ways.

Realizing How Far Off-Track I Was

When I replaced the 2020 calendar with the new 2021 year, it dawned on me. My most recent post was months old. I had fallen back into my old pattern of putting every one’s needs over mine.

I’m talking physically, socially, emotionally, mentally, and every other “ly” there is.

Perhaps it’s what we all do during a crisis, amidst chaos and change. Our survival instinct moves us in the direction of what we know, into habits that are familiar — good or bad.

I’m sure I’m not the only one out there that fights the guilt demon.

How do you say “no?” How do you lovingly say, “I need to work on my own thing, my writing, my health, my social life?” Whatever it is that’s falling apart for you personally?

How do you say “no” to those people that depend on you in the middle of a pandemic?

The Detours of Guilt and Responsibility

When I tried to do this with my director, her response was, “Can you do this job or not?”


For over thirty years, rather successfully I might add. But when she almost doubled my caseload and the paperwork that came with it, even working ten hours a day didn’t keep me caught up.

And my high school students. Many of them lacked the parental guidance at a time when they so needed it. It wasn’t just about the academics. They were concerned about life after high school.

The idea of working for a living, paying their own bills, and moving out on their own is as scary as it is exciting. During a pandemic, however, it’s hard to plan for an unpredictable future. Their questions and concerns were endless.

Then there’s the husband and family to consider. Years of habitually taking care of everything (and I mean everything!) means your family just assumes you will continue to do the same.

So not only do you have to break your own pattern of enabling in the midst of uncertainty, your must retrain the people in your life.

This is especially true of your significant other. In my situation, at least. Not only did I want him to pick up the “slack,” I wanted him to respect my time, my needs, and my dreams .

Hitting the Wall

I had marked my destination but with all the detours, I lost track of where I was going.

I was exhausted!

I was going in circles, starting and stopping, and getting nowhere.

I should have put the brakes on sooner.

Maybe I wouldn’t have hit the wall quite so hard. It’s too late to know for sure. Can’t go back and try things differently. No, I definitely do not want to go back.

But the good news is I had my seatbelt on. I pulled myself from the wreckage, so to speak, and dusted myself off.


Pulling Myself From the Wreckage

I took the last few months to consider how better to approach my situation. Now I am back in the driver’s seat with the same destination in mind.

The time away allowed me to refuel my engine. I know the road will continue to have curves and hills. But if I take it slower, I can enjoy the scenery and benefit from what I see, feel and learn along the way.

I can watch for and avoid those “guilt” detour signs. Those side trips really didn’t (and won’t) get me anywhere.

I do believe things happen for a reason. Sometimes the reason doesn’t become clear until you pull over and take a time out.

Perhaps the reason I have not made time for writing a new post is this very post I’m writing. It’s a lesson for me and for you.

Getting Back Behind the Wheel

Hitting the wall does not mean quitting. It forces you to stop, think, reevaluate and refocus.

What is it you really want? What do you need to do to get there? What is working and what needs to change?

Some of us deal better with change in gradual steps. We make small adjustments, apply the brakes when the sharp curves come up, give a little more gas on the uphill climb, and use our turn signal when we need to pull over.

However we ride through any kind of change, we need to remain in control. Avoid jumping back into the guilty lane or traveling the endless highway of “I will get to it later.”

Map out your destination. Prepare the best you can. Accept that you may hit roads that are “under construction” so fuel up every chance you get.

I admit the most difficult part has been getting back behind the steering wheel. I refuse to feel guilty about the fear of it. Or downplay the struggles that come with saying “no.”

I will probably continue to apologize for a while. “Sorry, dear. You’ll have to make your own lunch. I’ve got a story to write.”

Feel a bit guilty for not taking better care of yourself?

Wish you had more time for it?

The Self-Care Mini-Workbook will help you discover what you are doing or could be doing to enhance your self-care practices? Give it a try for free!

Click here!

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