“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”
– Pema Chodron
I’ve been absent from the blog here lately for one major reason.
I’ve been depressed.
I’m not talking about, “Oh dear, I’m not feeling up for writing about feelings.” I mean the “gonna close all the blinds and lay in the fetal position until I absolutely have to leave the house” depressed. Maybe at this point you are thinking, “Well, gee, I thought you had this shit figured out, and now you are saying you don’t?” And I would like to add a resounding, “Yeah, I thought that too.”
I spent a lot of time trying to pinpoint the “why’s” of it. Being on the other side of it, I’m not really sure reasons why matter if only to give me some illusion of control as if I’m a problem to be solved. I just knew that one thing my yoga practice, and my time with TIMBo has taught me is that I can be the observer of my own feelings. My depression became an experiment. What if I was sad, and I just felt sad? What if I didn’t numb out with food or wine? What if I fully engaged in the present, even if the present was a dank, dark, cave filled with trash and nightmares?
It felt crappy.
I would like to tell you that a few Sun Salutations got me back up on my feet again. That happened sometimes, sure. Then, other times I was doing Chaturanga push-ups at home while openly sobbing. Yeah, I did that, and it also felt good…and then it felt painful…and it also seemed necessary. I would have a day where I felt fine, and then I would awaken the next day feeling incapable of walking out of the door.
Last week, I was teaching a class, and I remember there were two times that I called a pose that was about two steps ahead of where we were. My students kind of looked at me funny, and I realized that I wasn’t teaching to what was happening in the room. I was telling them where they going to end up while skipping the actual transition. I had a laugh to myself because it was exactly where I was in my own life. As much as I was feeling my feelings, there was still a part of me that wanted to know where exactly was this depression thing going to lead. When is the breakthrough going to manifest from this breakdown?
Even today, I said to someone, “Well, I’m not there, yet, but I’m getting better.” But where is, “there?” For me, “there” (the place I was trying to get to) was a place where I was infallible, happy, content, secure, and had everything on my terms. That place does not exist, and cannot exist as long as I am a living human being. It seems like that is a no-brainer, but how many times do we put conditions on our own happiness? How many times do we think we will be happy once get the right job, lose 15 lbs, or find the right mate. Then we accomplish one of those things, and magically there’s some other rung on the ladder before we can get “there.”
There is no “there.” There’s only here. I can try to get somewhere else by eating a bag of chips, moving across the country, changing my name, losing weight but even when I’m trying to deny that “here” even exists, “here” is what is happening, right now. Here is all there is.
To deny my own depression is to deny my own experience. I think the culture at large might have us think that we should always be trying to “get better.” It’s kind of the American way. I have found in my own experience, that when I felt how I felt, fully, in the present moment, even in times of great suffering, I suffered less. When we cannot give ourselves permission to feel how we feel, we certainly do not give that permission to others. We become less compassionate, more reactionary, and frankly, all around shitheads to each other.
There is no happily ever after. There is no destination. There is no “there.” We can only be here. Here, we are on this continuum of coming together, falling apart, or somewhere in between. It can change in a moment, and at anytime, but it only can change…right here.