I recently spent a week feeling pretty bad. I was extremely depressed. And had zero energy.
In trying to make sense about where this onslaught of misery was coming from, there were a number of things I could point to. It’s been a crazy intense year. Lots of changes and some really difficult events that included a couple of rather challenging interpersonal conflicts. I was also dealing with current disappointments, including some health issues and plans not turning out the way I wanted them to.
And I did need to rest. So I initially chalked my crappy mood up to simply being tired as well as feeling grief about a bunch of different losses.
But I’ve been around the block enough times that I couldn’t completely kid myself. I knew it was more than that. Something deeper was trying to get my attention and calling me to listen.
I knew in theory that what I needed was to simply hang out with the discomfort. To “keep my butt in the chair” as the Buddhists say about meditation practice.
But it was hard. Hard to be in this place that was so painful. Hard to not have an easy way out. Hard to not know what was going on. Hard to feel so out of control.
I wanted to fix it … in the worst way. I wanted to figure out what was happening so that I could change what I was feeling. And change it fast.
And of course I was also dealing with the emotions that come from just BEING in a bad place. All the critical voices in my head were telling me that if I’m going through this it must mean I’m doing something wrong. The depressed and painful feelings are just PROOF that I don’t have my shit together. I was obviously extremely spiritually unenlightened. Because if I DID have my shit together I would sail through any and all changes in my life fully conscious and aware. With total ease and grace.
But that was most definitely NOT happening. Grace and ease were nowhere to be found. And struggle was the name of the game.
It was maddeningly obvious to me how I kept trying to escape what I was feeling. By doing more. Obsessing frantically about the stuff I always obsess about. Comparing myself to others. Eating food that wasn’t good for me. Watching way too much TV.
I would periodically remind myself to breathe. To try and stay present. And then I would fall off the wagon by distracting myself and then notice I was distracting myself. And then bring myself back to where I was. Only to distract myself again.
It’s been exhausting.
At one point I decided to have a little sit down with my Inner Wise Woman to see if she had any insight into what was going on.
Me: OK. What’s the deal. I’m doing everything that I know how to do and this rotten energy will NOT budge. Help me out here. Please.
WW: These things have their own timetable and rhythm. Which you can’t push. You just need to hang out with the process until what’s percolating underneath is ready to reveal itself to you.
Me: Aaargh…. You mean I have to put up with this for a while longer? No fair!! This is the stuff I talk about all the time. I should be better at getting through crap like this. I thought I was done with THIS level of yuck.
WW: You know it doesn’t work like that. Where did you get the idea that we are ever done? Plus “You teach what you most need to learn” IS one of your favorite slogans.
Me: But I was hoping that since I help people with this stuff I would get a pass once in awhile. You know, kind of like a soul perk for good behavior or time served or something like that.
WW: But, darling girl, you’re not seeing the most obvious point. What you’re going through IS the pass. When you signed up for this work you asked to be a pioneer and a trailblazer on this journey to become more awake and alive. And that means you get to go really deeply into what needs healed so that you can more effectively help others to do the same. The perk is that you get to heal some really hard stuff way ahead of everyone else.
Me: Oh brother… I guess I didn’t read the fine print on that particular contract.
This conversation actually helped quite a bit.
It was useful to remember that expecting things to be different than they are can take many forms. And I hadn’t realized how much I was expecting myself to breeze through this rough patch.
I was fighting against seeing myself as stuck. It didn’t fit with the image of who I want to be or how I like to think of myself. But it WAS the reality. And like the author and spiritual teacher Byron Katie says ” Whenever you argue with reality, you only lose 100% of the time.”
So I calmed down. Admitted that yes, I was stuck in a pretty crummy place. But that didn’t mean I was a crummy person. Or that I should hand in my intuitive painting facilitator badge.
It just meant that another level of healing needed to unfold. That I was human. That hard, painful and difficult feelings are simply part of this human journey.
And my Inner Wise Woman was right. After about a week of dodging, praying, many futile attempts at sitting still, talking through my process with my friends and husband and too many episodes of Boardwalk Empire, clarity eventually emerged.
I saw the reason for the dark place. And it made perfect sense as to why it had been so difficult. I had been trying to move a BIG boulder of fear related to some pretty scary risks I have planned for 2015. I was challenging some powerful belief systems related to what felt like my survival since I was a kid. And my poor little ego self was trying to put on the brakes by keeping me depressed but out of trouble.
I’m feeling much better now. Cleansed. Like I had a spiritual enema. And my faith in life and the innate, mysterious power and intelligence of the healing process has been restored once again. Until next time. When I pray that I can at least remember somewhat sooner what the heck is going on.