Giving Up, Or Getting Up?

Christina Engela's picture

Some people cling to emotional crutches in life because of a personal weakness, something to hold them above water, to prop them up. We all know these crutches, drugs, booze, cigarettes, religion, hobbies, obsessions. They cling to them to keep them afloat, and in the case of religion, they follow the rules, deny all their deepest wishes and needs in the hope that they will somehow score points with Management, and when they are inevitably disappointed and feeling flat, they begin to start questioning things to try and work out why they are the way they are.
"Yes I obeyed God, I did good, helped others and helped spread his word, did what a young catholic boy should do, aside from the normal mischief a normal catholic or any boy for that matter caused. And you want to know what my reward was? Set back after set back, bad luck after bad luck, while I watched as those who took the "wrong" route prosper and still to this day they prosper while I struggle."
Hands up, those who have felt like that in the past - like things are just too much and like giving up?
I felt like that - and got beaten down still further by people who called themselves "Christians" and considered themselves good people - and me bad, for simply existing and not hating myself for it, those who told me I could not both be myself and be counted as one of them too. People who showed me that while God might be love and tolerance and peace and all those sweet slices of pie in the sky, they were not, and that this world is not. That this world is a dark place, which exists for light to shine in - and they lay claim to the light switch and jealously guard it. And that the sky is indeed the limit - a limit we struggle to reach from the earth, and when we do, we are to look down on those below us with disdain and scorn and trample their grasping hands as they try to rise above their own despair.
My legs gave in, my wings broke, my crutches failed me - I sank down onto the earth and mourned in dust and ashes. Then, when I ran out of faith I found my own strength within. It is this strength that sees me through. Determination to not give in, to not surrender.
I was down and ready to die, and I got up because I saw others needed my skills, talents and my help. I got up to help them, before I decided to help myself. In the process, I learned that I was not as bad a person as I thought I was - that I deserved the same help and consideration and value as I thought they did. In the process of helping others, I helped myself. In acting out of my own brokenness I became whole again.
It's the kind of strength and determination you find when you have hit rock bottom and you realize you could die right now - and want to, but realize that even death won't make the difference you were hoping for.
It is defiance of fate, and rejection of pre-set destiny, grasping it all with your own will and telling the universe to do what it wants, and that it doesn't matter anymore. Life is a wild animal and I am going to ride it, whether it likes it or not, whether it kills me or not - and I will see where it goes, and I will get the most out of it I can until then. It is fury and defiance and outrage and despair and hope and love, all in one.
Life is all about choices - maybe not about what happens - but in how you choose to handle it - or to survive it.
Just don't give up. Just... don't... give... up. Ever.
Nobody else can do that for you. You are powerful- that's right - YOU - because only you have the power to keep on getting up when life knocks you over - only you have the power to defy the odds - only you have the power to stand up for yourself.
What is the alternative?
Have you thought about that?
Have you?
Is lying flat on the ground, giving up, beaten, all you think it will be? Is lying under the earth going to be all you think it will be? Is giving in really a solution? Will continuing to fight really feel worse than giving in?
Will giving up, letting go and dying really feel better than living another day?
Christians sometimes quote the bible as saying "God helps those who help themselves" - what this means is, waiting for chariots sweeping down for the skies to save you while you sit in a puddle of your own mess is going to be a long wait indeed - so you might as well do what they do - make the choice to pull yourself out of it - and afterwards claim that somebody else did it for you. It works for them, apparently.
I watched my father drink himself to death. I watched him destroy his health and his family and his life because of all the hard knocks he took in life. I was with him when he breathed his last breath, thinking how different things would have been if he had made the choice to stop wallowing in self-pity and self-hate - and had instead made the choice to get up, dust himself off and look the world in the eyes. I lost a best school friend to drugs, I watched him destroy his whole being until I couldn't recognize him anymore, because he wouldn't listen - and watching was all I could do.
Who could have stopped it? God? Who other than my father had that power? Who other than my friend? Was it up to somebody else to make a choice for them? Was it up to somebody else to act on their behalf? I have too much pride to let people knock me down and to just stay down. I have too much pride to help my enemies by making their task of destroying me that much easier, that much more satisfying. God - whoever God is, may help me in some invisible, indefinable ways, to get up again - but it is up to me to want to get up. It is up to me to keep trying.
Even when you're down, there is still hope. No matter how bad things get and no matter how small a hope there is, anything is better than nothing. No matter how bad things get, they can always, AWAYS get worse. Take my word on that.
What is your problem? Respect? Work giving you a hard time? Boss hate you? Church treating you like a criminal? Love? Mom tell you to stop being such a girl? Dad beat you up again to try "make a man out of you"? Did your partner leave you or cheat on you? Kids in the street ask out loud if you are a guy or a girl? Lady at the checkout refuse to serve a dyke or make fun of your appearance? Friends hurt you or abandon you? I've had a best friend of many years abandon me and tell people he had no idea who I was, because he wasn't comfortable being associated with me as a trans woman or a gay rights activist. I don't really take friends or even family as seriously as I used to. They're nice to have around, and they're a comfort - but not a necessity anymore. In the end they leave you too, whenever it suits them to. Sometimes they come back, but in the end, you will still be alone - so you may as well learn to stand alone from the get go. People may respect you for that.
Money is not respect. Neither is power. And if people respect you for your money or your power, it isn't you they respect - but the money or the power. When you win people over who hate you for what you are or what you believe, and they still come to you to make friends - or to ask you for counsel or assistance - that is respect - and that respect is power.
You can be hurt and broken and still have all the money in the world - but it can never make you whole or buy you self-respect - or the strength to get up again. You can stand alone and be penniless, but you can still have honor and respect.
As long as you resist, as long as you keep getting up, you have strength and honor and you hold your destiny in your own hands and you can laugh in the face of the world for failing to break you yet again, for yet another day. But when you fold, when you give in - you give it to the world and it owns you.
Because, to just lie there at the feet of the world is worse than fighting back. Because just lying there is defeat. Because getting up and getting knocked flat and getting up again, as bad as it may be, is the opposite of defeat. Because I've been broken and I may still be broken, and I may be broken again, today, tomorrow or next year - but I will never give the world that satisfaction.
Just because.
It's that simple.
....So get up.

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