Swimming against the current — or the problem with feeling

The problem with feeling is that once you start, you feel it all. You can’t pick and choose once you allow emotion to enter your being. The love. The hurt. The regret, acceptance, shame, pain, pride, warmth. *warning of major self-disclosure ahead. if you would like to keep your idea of me as a happy-go-lucky, laid-back, always-positive, sunshine-and-rainbows kind of person, you should probably skip this one and wait for the next post. If you want some truth and explanation as to why I am the way I am, read on sister (or brother). so here it is, something I don’t think I’ve admitted to aloud except for on maybe one or two occasions: I carry sadness. heaviness. 99% of the time. Admittedly, I always have. I don’t know if I experience sadness/depression/whatever-you-wanna-call-it as much as I carry it.

 [Slight shift, but relevant, promise]

A psychology supervisor once used the metaphor of the experience of depression like swimming against the current. […take a sec to picture this. to feel it. to place yourself in the ocean. treading water. continuously. without pause or relief…sit with that feeling a bit]. The imagery is perfect and beautiful and extremely fitting. It is exhausting. It’s exhausting to feel like you have to constantly be moving in order to survive. It’s not even about moving forward, it’s simply about not drowning. Depression can leave little to no energy for fun or ridiculous antics or even for the superficial conversation needed to initiate relationships. Why? Because mental energy is expended on staying afloat. It can be hard to go through daily moments of life because of this. Some days are harder than others. Most days are now much easier. Most days, it takes a good amount of energy to keep me afloat, to get me to a place where my heart is filled with love and light and hope. I’m pretty good at getting there now. Actually, I’m very good at it. It’s pretty amazing considering where I was not too long ago. But it takes work. I’ve figured out what works for me. I have to start each day with prayer acknowledging the undeserved blessings I receive. Then I have to commute to work listening to Christian music, because it is positive and encouraging with messages of unconditional love and this sets me up to see things from that frame. I have to avoid sad music when I feel myself entering that certain “space.” I avoid drinking during those times as well (a history on drinking will be shared…later later). I make sure to surround myself with positive, loving, supportive people as much as I can. I make it a point to smile at the sun, to hear laughter, and to notice beauty daily. But it takes work.

[i remember crying when i first heard this song.. it was strange to hear my experience put so beautifully and melodically.]

But then there are times when more is required of me, and more isn’t accessible. I need time to recharge, refocus, regain whatever was lost. Silence and solitude are helpful for that…but with that sort of isolation comes missing out on social interaction and friendships and experiencing the love and light of others. It sucks to feel the guilt that comes with avoiding others for your own well-being, or having your actions misunderstood because you simply aren’t in the place to explain why you left early or withdrew or just didn’t show up. But self-preservation is necessary at times. It’s a delicate balance that I am not sure others understand unless you let them in on it.

[another shift, stick with me]

[written in a church loft, surrounded by candlelit confessions:] I’m sitting here in the darkened silence of pain and tears and sobs and sorrows of women pained…and I have no reaction. initially anyway. The stirrings don’t start until I begin writing these lines. these.very.lines. Somehow, the ink on these pages allows vulnerability to sneak through, without concern or fear. The emotional stirring happen in other places too…while running or walking in the sunlight-filled trails, while driving down winding roads, while listening to song. mostly, in solitude or when I witness love between family. What I’m finding is that I’m good at shutting if off. like a few moments ago when i felt that familiar tightness in my throat. A simple deep breath and hard swallow. I’m good at going back to the dull faded feeling I grew to learn, the not-feeling that I believe I needed in order to survive hurtful experiences as a child.

It was “easier.”

[shifting again, hold on, we’re almost there]

I remember being told on a few separate occasions something along the lines of: “I really don’t feel bad for you because you’ve still got it all together despite what you’ve gone through.” And that’s where the cookie crumbles, folks. (quick side note: this is one of the few metaphors that I can get behind. Because really, no one likes crumbs of cookies. It’s just sad). Anyway, my point is, I don’t have it all together. I am kind of a mess. …granted, my not wanting to disappoint others or myself tends to balance me out alotta bit. and my belief that I have lived an amazingly blessed life keeps me in check so shit gets done.

[and finally, we tie it all together, as promised. thanks for sticking in there til the end].

The point isn’t that I can get my shit done. Or that I can shift caring intensely to avoiding emotionally within moments. The point isn’t that I actively participate in trying to make the world better even when I’m not. It’s not about personal responsibility or attempting to get “better” or gain more tools to successfully continue on the path I’m on. It’s not that I’ve learned how to be better, how to feel better. The point is that it’s. not. easy. Maybe all I’m looking for is a bit of sympathy, someone to say, “Clouds, that sucks. Like, for real. That really, really sucks. And I’m sorry. How are you doing?” So why all this? Why now? Great question. Is it because I want pity or concern or attention to any of the above disclosures? No. Please. none of that. I don’t think “now” is actually reflective of the process it took to write this. This was written in chunks over about 5 months, on scrap paper, in journals, in music lofts, at coffee shops while distracted from work. I’ve written about sad & happy before, about the need to balance the good with the bad, ying and yang and all that wonderfully on point jazz. I guess I figured that many of you could relate, probably more than are willing or able to admit. I have found that it’s often quite comforting to read something and go “yes! That’s exactly it! ” Mostly, I think I’m writing this because I want to encourage you to always (or as much as possible) bring love and light when interacting with others..it’s the safest and best thing we can do as human beings sharing this place given that we don’t know what others are experiencing.

dalai-lama-leader-quote-it-is-necessary-to-help-others-not-only-in

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11 thoughts on “Swimming against the current — or the problem with feeling

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