On the Value of Surrender

On January 1st, 2014, I posted the following to my Facebook:

 

2011 wasn’t great, so on January 1, 2012 I was all “bring it on, New Year.”

2012 was worse, so on January 1, 2013, I was all “Woo! Done with that!”

2013 has been the worst year of my adult life. This year, my New Years resolution is to figure out how to stop the downward slide.

 

2013 was absolutely horrendous.  I called it the worst year of my adult life, and that’s not an exaggeration.  By the end of 2013, I was depressed, panicked, anxious, and stressed.  I was a complete wreck.  I don’t need to go over the laundry list of problems, but those of you who know me know how bad it got.

2011 wasn’t great.  And on New Years of 2012, I resolved to do everything I was doing, but better.  Harder.  And I doubled-down on everything I’d been doing.  Of course, as a result, I got twice the pain and trouble.  So in the beginning of 2013, what did I do?  I doubled down again.  I went at it harder, and by the end of 2013 I was absolutely destroyed.  Here’s some other samples of my posts from that point in time:

Last week, our website was DDOS’d into the ground.

This week, our pipes froze, then burst, and left our basement flooded in five inches of standing water.

These days, my job is less about being an attorney and more about being a repairman of some sort or another.

Someone kill me.

Until I read that, I’d forgotten it.  In fact, reading these old posts is actually triggering my old anxiety a little bit.  Just re-reading them, my heartbeat is accelerating and I’m starting to feel the old fear that my entire life is unravelling.

So that post?  The one where I said I was no longer going to declare the New Year a time when I was doubling down again?  It got a lot of sympathetic responses.  A lot of friends and family, a lot of you who are reading this right now, posted to tell me how they felt bad for me, or that I shouldn’t give up.

But that’s exactly what I did.  I gave up.  I stopped trying to make it work.  I stopped throwing myself into a meat grinder.  I stopped bashing that square peg into the round hole with a sledgehammer, desperately hoping to make something fit where it wouldn’t.

And I am so happy I did.

Less than three weeks after I posted that, I accepted this new position in Mason County.  I stopped trying to be a businessman (fun fact:  I am a shit businessman) and I started being a lawyer again.  I remembered that, underneath all the bullshit I was going through trying to breathe life into a dying business, there is something I can do that is worthwhile.  That I am good at.  As soon as I surrendered, it freed me to find a different life for myself.

2014 has been the biggest year of change since graduating law school.  It has changed where I live, it has changed how I work, and it has changed my financial status.  It has seen the publication of book 2, my first appearance at four cons in a year.  Esther and I have paid off nearly all of what was a stunning credit card debt amassed as a result of 2013.  2014 has seen me become a functioning landlord of my old home, has seen me return to the mountains I used to love in my youth.  I’ve taken up camping and hiking again, I’ve lost 80 pounds, and I am not battling depression and anxiety every day.

And now I look back at that post, that shift in my attitude that allowed me to do all this, and the number of people who reacted to it as though what I were saying was negative.  It makes me realize this:  we as a people do not appreciate the value of surrender.  There is a value in walking away from it.  Throwing good money after bad is stupid, but throwing time and energy into a bad situation is just as stupid.

There is a value in surrender.  And I never realized it until life broke me to the point where I had no choice but to surrender.  Within weeks of throwing up my hands my life turned for the better.

So just a thought:  if you’re in a bad situation, sometimes it’s better to surrender than to keep fighting.  It’s a lesson I learned the hard way.

2014 was a good year.  It was a landmark year, a year that forever altered the trajectory of my life.  I am sad to see it go.  I hope 2015 keeps me on the same path.