Saturday, July 31, 2010

Falling... falling...

The question always is, for me anyway, how much do I really say. How much is too much for public consumption; where are the boundaries, and how much of where they lie is constructed from some idea of politeness and social conventions, some misguided notion that we are supposed to buck up, snap out of it, keep our private issues private, not be a burden, pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and march on, etc. Maybe I can’t know for sure exactly where that is… I can just write and hope I’ll know it when I hit it.

Since my last post, since coming home from Tahoe, I’ve slipped further and further down the rabbit hole. My family and close friends are worried about me, and rightfully so—I am worried about myself, too. They think I need to consider anti-depressants, and have become quite verbal in their opinions—and I’ve been just as verbal in my resistance.

And, please, don’t get me wrong. Drugs have a place, and for some people—perhaps me included—they can make all the difference in the world. But what has haunted me these past days, maybe even weeks, is the idea that in this depression there just might somehow be a message. Yes, I get that it’s a brain chemistry thing; something about serotonin, dopamine, endorphins; and yes, I understand completely that it’s physical. But I don’t think it’s always so clear what causes the brain chemicals to go out of whack, and speaking solely for myself, maybe because of the circumstances in which I felt it come on, there’s a part of me that thinks I’m feeling this way because something in my life is not right. And I’m beginning to get an idea what that might be.

I knew, in the early days of gut-wrenching, heartbreaking decision-making about my marriage, that if it didn’t survive, then I wanted a life completely different. If I couldn’t have what I seemed to most want—partnership, nuclear family close by and a part of the fabric of our daily lives, then I wanted my new-found freedom to count for something. I wanted adventure, to see parts of the world I’d only drooled over in pictures, experience other cultures, learn Italian, set sail, not care if my hair was perfectly coiffured or my jeans wrinkly. In short, I wanted—desperately, and with my whole being—to take off, and fly. And on a deeper, more fundamental level, what I wanted, what I believe(d) freedom would bring me, was the feeling of being truly, tinglingly alive.

I have had that feeling. As I look back, it seems always to have to do with stepping outside the box, leaving the strong arms of safety and security, and RISKING. It was there when I leapt from the boat and swam with wild dolphins five years ago. I knew it two years ago when I drove by myself from the South of France north to the French Alps, not able to speak the language or read road signs or find my hotels. It coursed through me when I kayaked for the first time in my life while on Moloka’i, the wind and waves nearly hurling us more than once into the beautiful sea. And also on Moloka’i, when I stared straight into the face of my fear of flying and sat in the front seat of the little plane that took us to Kalaupapa and back, and then cruising along the highest sea cliffs in the world. And just yesterday, I felt that aliveness flow through me when my realtor loaned me his 12-year-old, bright red, rough-around-the-edges Jeep and my sister and I, with the wind whipping our hair, and the intoxicating scent of pines, cedars, and firs, explored some of the less traveled mountain roads north of where I live. Small things for sure, but for me, whose life has been so limited for so long by fear, they were transforming.

With the best intentions, completely unwittingly, perhaps through being too emotionally driven and not discerning enough about what I truly, in my heart of hearts want--what will ultimately make my spirit soar--I think I’ve trapped myself once again. I’ve taken on a house, a big, demanding yard, unforeseen costs and debt and responsibilities, not to mention new cats I’m already in love with, and I am feeling overwhelmed and buried by it all. Someone suggested that maybe the freedom I experienced on Moloka’i, as exhilarating as it was, scared me on some level I’m completely unconscious of and I rebounded to the safety and security of home. Home away from home to be sure, but the comfort and security of a home, nonetheless. Safety, but with nothing to be excited about or look forward to, nothing that makes me tingle, lights me up, or gets the juices flowing, no boats or planes or unknown places or languages in the future.

Good heavens, I think, is it any wonder I am depressed?

I’ve been spinning around these awarenesses for a few weeks now, terrified to even entertain the idea that I might have made some big mistakes. Two days ago I spoke it out loud for the first time, and just in the speaking, a bit of the burden has been lifted. Not all, not even a lot, but a bit. Enough to stop the spinning, since only once admitted can options be explored. And in the new found freedom to explore, the trapped feeling has eased ever so slightly.

Here's a quote that changed things for me this week...

Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
~Howard Thurman

Until next time.

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