What if?

August 25, 2008

I have the opinion that the Universe throws things at me just as I need them (sometimes gently, sometimes not so gently- but that’s a whole other story!).

My counsellor is running a Self Esteem course over the next few weeks, and was recruiting participants just as I hit this latest crisis in confidence that I discussed in the last entry. Ah, beautiful syncronicity! My counsellor encouraged me to attend, and, after some hesitation about Bodhi missing playgroup for a few weeks for the sake of me working on my “own stuff”, I decided to join the group.

The first session was this morning. The exercises were mostly great, I feel like the group is satisfactorily warm and challenging. I am happy to say I am happy I went!

The session twigged some questions for me (as it should have, otherwise I would not be finding it challenging enough, or too superficial). One in particular, which I will explore here.

When Bodhi was born, and still to this day, I was overwhelmed with these wonderfully evocative feelings of care and hope and intention for him. Not intentions as in what career I would like to see him follow, or talents I would like to see him possess. I do not think that is my role, or my decision at all. He is (even now, as a vibrant 10 month old) a free spirit, able to create and follow a path of his choosing, guided by his intuition and passions.

It is the freedom of his spirit, and the intangible things in life, such as a positive outlook, a loving heart, compassion for humanity and Mother Earth that I hope to see in him. I do not wish for him to conform for the sake of conforming. I remember, when he was only days old, cradling him in my arms in the hospital bed, my body and spirit broken, but so full of love and hope for his future. I whispered to him, “Follow your path in life, even if it isn’t what people expect of you. Live your life to your rhythm, and your beat. Your life is so precious, please don’t waste it conforming for the sake of conforming. There is so much beauty in life, please make it your path to find it. You can do anything you want in this life, as long as it doesn’t impede on the basic human rights of others.”

I think there is conforming, for the sake of maintaining social order, morals and commonly held beliefs, but then there is a more dangerous form of conforming- that which maintains the status quo, even if it is destructive; that which is solely done because that is what is seen as ‘normal’- with no individual exploration of the ramifications of this; to maintain the order that in this world where we are all equal, some are more equal than others.

I love my child so much, I want him to overcome all of this. I want him to live the absolutely most passionate, fun, meaningful, joyous life he can.

So (finally), to the question that twigged for me in the Self Esteem class today. What if I loved myself enough to want the same for me? How would my life be different? Would I feel better about myself? Would I love more vulnerably, but with more force? Would I allow myself time to lay in the grass and watch the clouds? Would I not feel oppressed to rejoin the workforce when I’d really prefer to be home? Would I feel okay if the housework didn’t get done for a day or two (or a month or two?)? Would I be able to disengage from the ‘doing’ mindset and purely enjoy the ‘being’ mindset- just like Bodhi?

I considered, my mother probably feels a similar way towards me that I do to Bodhi. Maybe, I thought, this gives me permission to live life in that way. But then I thought, why does the permission need to come from an external source (even one as lovign as my mother)? What is it, that stops me from allowing myself from ‘allowing’ myself to follow such a joyous path? What is it in all of us that stops us from living beautiful, non conformist, unique, unpredictable lives?

At this point, my mind spurred on (the counsellor must have seen my eyes glaze over and wonder whether the course material was stimulating enough!).

What would happen, if everyone about themselves, the way I hope Bodhi will one day? What if we all, within the loose constraints of not harming others (and I know this can be ambiguous in itself, but for the sake of the hypothetical), went in search of the highest joy, meaning and passion that we could elicit from life? If we didn’t stay stuck in dead end jobs, continually berate ourselves for our imagined shortcomings, rigidly sticking to routines that are not conducive to our wellbeing?

What if we all loved ourselves the way we love those we hold most dear?

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The Art of Falling Apart

August 24, 2008

I’m falling apart at the moment. I’m in a daze, everything I want or need to do seems too hard. I’m tired, cannot handle stress, find myself crying or angry a lot. I sit around trying to make sense of my life, but getting nowhere. I’m in a real rut.

And I’m loving it.

There’s been times that I have been depressed before (if I feel the need to put a label on it, which I’m not sure that I do). I have observed that my moods are cyclic in that way- mostly I feel great, but every few months I do slip into an insular, all encompassing downer for maybe a week or two. So I know it will pass.

Two things are different this time.

Firstly, I’m being open about it. The stigma surrounding mental illness can be so daunting. And for me, so can the way I berate myself for feeling this way. Objectively, I know it is normal, physiological and will happen to many people, but subjectively, when I’m down, I can be incredibally hard on myself for feeling depressed.

If life has taught me anything in the last year though, it’s the importance of speaking up. If I don’t speak up about that which hurts me, that which treats me with injustice, that makes me angry, it is a lost oppurtunity, not only for me but for those who are going through the same things, and may not be in a position to speak up.

So I’ve¬†released my depression out into the wide world this time. I’ve told friends, family, my boss, people I collaborate with in community action. And all I have received is support. My boss has allowed me to resign (it’s not the type of work that you can responsibly do without a strong mental constitution) with a view to reapplying when I feel able to again. I have had offers of help from friends for babysitting and housework and all that (aside, however, these are the things I am finding healing at the moment).

I always held my depression close, protected it, almost coveted it, wouldn’t let it out, for fear of being ridiculed. Or mayeb because I thought people would see me as I see myself in the darkest moments. But I pushed myself and chose to let it out, and it has made life so much easier.

The second thing I have done differently is to be open to the gifts and blessings that depression brings. The lack of motivation and energy I feel allows me to really examine my life, how I would like to live it and what I aspire to, and whether my intentions and actions match. It gives me time to rest, to be mindful and be grateful for little (and big) things. To see the heavenly blessings in every hour, as an old bookmark I have tells me.

Depression gives me space, it allows me space I don’t feel I deserve otherwise. It’s really sad that’s the only way it can happen in my current state of evolution, but the Universe will get it’s message through, in any way it can. And the best way it can.

I know I have a lot to work through. I have deep self esteem issues, and I need to make sense of my roles- especially now I have become a mother. I also have a lot of healing to do from the birth trauma. These are not to be understated.

But this time, I’m not a victim. I’m evolving.