Saturday, December 31, 2011

Taking A Risk ~ Take 5

I’m pretty sure I’ve written this here before… but it bears repeating, if for my own ears only. When I first fell into the black hole, my therapist at the time kept telling me that the antidote to depression was risk. I argued with her every time, citing the entire eighteen months before, where I had done nothing but take huge, life-altering risks. Leaving my marriage and home. Going to Moloka’i alone for three months. Buying my own home two hours away from Bay Area, where I’d lived my whole life. It actually appeared—to my eye anyway—that taking risks might have in fact led to the major depressive episode that I was experiencing.

Now here I find myself, over a year later, back in a seriously dark hole, having a conversation with my daughter, who agrees that risk can indeed be the antidote to depression. As we talk about it, she tells me her belief, that it’s not about taking the huge, life-altering risks so much as the smaller, every day ones. Where could I begin, she asks, in her uncanny way of getting directly to the most important point. And the answer is immediate; I can start right here in this blog. Where I haven’t been writing. Where I’ve been isolating, avoiding the truth. Where I’ve been hesitant/reluctant/afraid to say—again—how depressed and numb I am, and conversely, how sad I am feeling, how much pain I am in. After all, how many times can one say it? How many times is too many times? And won’t folks, at some point, just get tired of hearing about it?

Which brings me back to what I’ve also written again and again… I don’t write what I write here for other people, I write primarily for myself, as therapy, as a place to explore and discover and let it all hang out. It’s where I can be real, and not have to pretend or sugar coat or out-and-out lie. And sometimes, when I’m lucky, it’s where I can come to understand or be inspired, when the words just lead themselves there all by themselves, not as a plan or by will or orchestration; the momentary gift of a pinpoint of light; frosting on an invisible cake.

So here it is. My truth. I am suffering more deeply again. Some days, seriously so. And I know that I am no where near the only one. We all suffer. Some more than others, maybe, but it is without question part of the human condition. Right now, my best friend and her daughter and their families are in deep sorrow over a loss. My sister and her family are suffering as a loved one struggles. I, we, don’t have to look far… and it’s a common denominator I think; and often it can be our own suffering that opens our hearts so completely to the suffering of others.

Whatever opens our hearts more fully is a gift. Though I do resist -- unconsciously for sure, but nonetheless, and though I know better, I find myself again and again beyond reluctant to let the pain just take me. Hence the numbness, I suppose… self protection, fear that if it starts in earnest, it might never stop, or, might take me somewhere so out of my control, I might never find the way back. Which, ironically I believe, is the whole point...

This morning I came across this beautiful quote by one of my favorite authors, and it speaks perfectly to why it is I am drawn again and again to words, and it inspires me, to keep going, to keep coming back here, keep taking the risk, first and foremost for myself, but also, in the hope, the dream, that what I experience, what I am able to write here, might also touch someone else out there.

Writing, real writing, should leave a small sweet bruise somewhere on the writer... and on the reader.
~Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Sunday, December 25, 2011


This year
I let Christmas in.

And it occurs to me that
every year
the spirit of Christmas goes wandering
looking for room at the inn
of my heart

turned aside
by the hurry of business
the demands of desires
the walls of grudge, bitterness

but when at last
a door of willingness opens
there comes inside
each year
a newborn spirit

of hope
joy of this life
the courage of kindness
the warm embrace of forgiveness

so powerful,
it draws shepherds,
wise ones, some who hold sway in this world,
even humble animals respond,
look up to the silent chorus
of shimmering angels
among the stars, bending
low, to welcome again this


- Scott O'Brien

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Today I read about the night goddess, Hekate, whom author Thomas Moore calls The Dark Angel. I am reminded of a time years ago when I first began the healing journey, when I discovered the goddesses of old and found profound nurturance there, in their archetypal stories, and ways of being. It was like suddenly finding parts of myself that I had only a vague sense of, that I had no idea were missing until confronted with them. They became revered companions, and I found the beginnings of healing and wholeness in their midst.

It feels like there has been a serious shift in the past week. Following on the heels of two weeks full of moments of such despair it scared me, I finally picked up this book I've had for a couple of months and began to read it. They say when the student is ready, the teacher will appear, and I'm assuming the timing is perfect because Thomas Moore's words have found their way straight into my being. I now truly get that what I am experiencing is a true dark night of the soul, and the shift is in the honoring, and seeing that this is not merely depression that needs to be overcome, but a time of spiritual journeying, a soul's night, an opportunity for emptying and renewal, that is to be experienced. I've also heard that when suffering is seen to hold meaning, that it is much easier to bear. Moore's words, his deep understanding, respect, and acceptance of this life passage have made a huge difference.

Reading about Hekate today, learning what she has to teach us about the night journey, feeling her support, the ancient wisdom, I felt myself coming home again. For the first time in years, I felt touched by the sacred, that intangible something that defies articulation, that grounds you, puts you face to face with the mystery, that takes your breath away, that fills you up, and empties you out all at the same time. And in the arms of that, I long to let go, dive as deeply as is necessary, float on my back in its currents until it is finished with me and tosses me back up onto the shore once again.

Thank you Hekate, and thank you Thomas Moore for bringing the goddesses back into my life today.