The Gift of Desperation

Life (23/365)


Misty sounded relieved,

Yes.  That’s it.

She had just realized that life isn’t fair.  Sure.  She knew that before, but she just realized what she knew.  Don’t we all love that moment when our senses join up – sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell, emotion, intellect, spiritual and the rest.  That is a lot to coördinate after all and sometimes some of them don’t make the train.

Misty was a single mom of three.  Her ex-husband was what she called, “Disney-Dad,” and her kids relished their time with him.  Misty complained that she didn’t get to spend the special times with her kids.  She mainly took care of them, but missed out on irresponsible fun.  She was sure her kids wouldn’t look back and think of her like they would their father.  She was getting angrier about it all the time, ruminating about it and it was getting in the way of her ability to connect with others and feel pleasure.  There it was in front of her blocking her from seeing her kids even, let alone herself.

Then after weeks of this along with medication and talk therapy, she told me,

Yes.  That’s it.  Life is not fair.  There are many other things in my life that aren’t fair either and if I look for them, I could spend my whole day every day counting them off.  

It broke my heart a bit to hear her and see her there.  Humble like that; she would I think affect you the same way.  So real.

Yesterday, Carl D’Agostino replied to our post about growing our understanding of our choices beautifully.

…we wait until we are at our wit’s end before we seek assistance…. considering reaching out as personal failure or inadequacy re: our own self-esteem…. Foolishly we wait until our way just is not working anymore. That is why AA calls this a gift: the gift of desperation. …For many, the depths into which we have succumbed are now found not to be so deep at all and in fact, ladders are readily available if we use them in recovery. 

Ah Carl.  Say it again.

The gift of desperation.

Too good.  Don’t you think?

Questions:  Have you ever received the gift of desperation?  What did it bring you?  Where did it take you?  What did it do to you?  Do you still have it?  Please tell me your story.

Self-Care Tip – Celebrate your gift of desperation.

18 thoughts on “The Gift of Desperation

  1. I think the idea with psychiatry is to achknoledge you have flaws or issues and to seek help before you reach the “desperation point”. I never want to be there. I have low points but I do whatever I can to prevent myself from getting to that state. The best analogy I have ever been given was by a great lady named Dee Davis MFCC n Pasadena. She said “imagine you are that fly on the wall. What does the fly see when he looks at you? What can you see from looking at yourself from another perspective?”. The other very important analogy is the one of standing next to your partner, not leaning on her. Being together but independent. Leaning on another for your sense of worth is not healthy.

    • this is real mike. i know what this means and thank u for saying it. it is another part of this story and enlarges our narrative. “the truth is in the grey,” and not at the extremes when it comes to our perspectives. the desperation is an example of good coming out of something that might have been considered bad otherwise. it is an example of finding the blessing of knowing that we need. many of us find that hard to believe :). keep on.

  2. I have to smile when the answers and responses we need and want jump out. I have had so many opportunities in my life to receive the gift of desperation and this conversation I have been having with myself and a friend the past two days. What I am learning in the past year or so . . . . is to ask for help before I get to that place. Why do I paint myself into the corner all the time? Why do I not reach out and ask for help and support. Allow myself to be (my perception) vulnerable and ask for help. What is vulnerable about asking for help? My up bringing is such that I had to prove myself capable and worthy. If I don’t do I won’t be needed and worthy and all the other clap trap that goes with that. My 20 year old daughter is magnificent she “asks” for help read “insists” and then walks away after her request is made quite clearly and then she nods yup and walks away. She knows it will be done and enables other then leaves them to it. BOY DO I HAVE LOTS TO LEARN FROM HER!!!

    The gift of desperation has left me bowed and barely able to breath, it has left me uttering the NA Third Step prayer (I prayed this today in fact for the first time in a long time) God take my will and my life, guide me in my recover and show me how to live.

    The gift of desperation has enabled me to live in the absolute moment – reality. Needing to be clearly present to feel what it was I was supposed to be feeling. Yikes!

    The gift of desperation has made me humble in a way that not much else can. I have been in so much pain and discomfort that I had to look at everything around me and pray to be open to receive and look where the answers are.

    The gift of desperation has allowed me to totally and completely open myself up to the Holy Spirit and ask for a direct line to God, because what I was doing was not working and I had to ask and be open to receive (thats the important part, open to receive!) I was crippled and I needed healing.

    I am working toward not becoming “crippled” and to be open to what God has in store for me. In the past 6 years we have had our eldest daughter nearly die from being hit by a large truck and a brain injury (she’s a 4th year history honors student – God is Awesome!), I have had a female surgery, 2 injuries and menopause (I am only 50 this year) my husband has had 2 shoulder surgeries (work) and is currently waiting for ankle surgery (the day before my 50th birthday on the 22nd of this month), I have re-educated myself and started a career (after being a stay home mom for 15 years), I have helped our second daughter through some pretty serious depression issues (thank God for a good Dr.) a son through various sports related injuries (he’s a boys boy) my father-in-law was diagnosed and died from a brain tumor (we helped him die at home, that was a long year and I am so grateful I was able to care give him and my mother in law) my mother in law has had a small series of strokes, an enlarged aorta and is having depression issues, and alienating everyone around her. Sigh. I have to say I am tired and slightly (overwhelmed/depressed) and strive to lose weight.
    I am humbled and awed at the same time that I can experience joy, grief, sadness and silliness all simultaneously. I am constantly overcome with the most profound sense of gratitude for my life and where I live. For my family and the work mates, the people I teach. For the opportunity to come to God and ask for support Love and help, guidance and peace.

    I love your website and your messages. They are awesome. I am grateful for you!

    • coleen, u r so sweet and i thank u for letting me know this. it is a buoy in the in-between moments when uncertainty creeps in and in the other times, it is a friendly thought that brings me pleasure.
      u sound like my kind of woman from your story. i luv girls who don’t stop. let us know how this goes for u. it’s a lot for anyone. i’m especially interested to hear about your self-care during it all. wow.

  3. It is a gift, Carl is right. Sometimes I realise I am actually sitting there waiting for it: for that anti-eureka moment which will be such a crossroads. You can’t engineer that instant, it seems to be a readiness thing…

    • “anti-eureka” is an extremely cool term kate. i’m hoping u’ll rub off on me. i’ve seen this magic in your writing in your blog-posts and comments for a long time now and i’m wondering just when i can expect a little more cool behavior of my own.
      i luv your comment too btw. readiness. yes.

  4. Sorry, I have to say I can not get on board with the “gift” concept. Depression/anxiety has always been hold back. It is true that I have become less unhealthy as I work against it but I could have done much more without the condition in the first place.

    I agree depression can cause one to hit bottom and take action.

  5. I agree with Carl. The gift of desperation is that point at which one stops grappling with a situation that’s out of control to seek help. I suppose we linger longer than necessary before we recognize desperation. Human nature. Blessings to you, Sana…

      • I understand what Misty is going through because it happened to me but on reverse. I don’t understand why you enter Carl’s quote; they seem unrelated to each other. Carl is saying that when you hit rock bottom, you will find a way out of that desperation (ladders). What does her deep depression has to do with Carl’s comment?

  6. What Carl said is right on for me. I have received the gift of desperation several times. And at one point, years ago I did see it as a gift, a chance to make changes and improve myself. Now it is just getting annoying. 🙂 But I am working with it. And trying to find a way to not get so darn desperate before I seek help! And I relate to Misty completely…BTDT.

    • hello there for some reason i missed replying to your comment till now but thank u so much for connecting. what u say has hope and worth hearing. awesome effort – ” trying to find a way to not get so darn desperate before I seek help”. let u know how that’s going for you if u will. keep on.

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