Sunday, August 19, 2012

Depression, Hope, Love

Came across a blog post from 2005 on an old MySpace account, where I'd written to a young friend who was suicidal. I wanted to plant a seed for a future time when he would need sustenance and I couldn't be there for him. My hopes were that by the time he needed it, the seed would have developed into a strong plant that bore fruit that would nourish and feed his soul. What I said was:

Those awful feelings we get, the ones where we are alienated from everything and everyone, are false. We are always (and I believe, eternally) interconnected with our loved ones. We are NEVER ALONE. We are as "alone" as each cell in our bodies, separate and distinct, but never, ever isolated. Depression and despair mask the Truth, but the Truth is -- you are a part of something significant and wondrous; you are loved, and nothing you could ever do, say, or think will change the Truth.

 I believe my seed was a good one. Its Truth continues to resonate with me, even today. Perhaps if it had had more time to develop, to take root and grow, Vinny would have been able to self-comfort. He might have had the nourishment he needed to sustain him through the Long Dark Night of his soul. 

As it happened, my seed fell on barren ground. It had neither the time nor the conditions necessary to take root. One month later, Vinny hanged himself.

* * *

I have a lifelong tendency toward depression. I come by it honestly. It's as much a part of me as my hazel eyes and big feet, and just as understandable. I realize there is a biochemical aspect to depression, but I also believe some of it is almost a normal response to overwhelming stimuli. I've worked hard throughout my lifetime to collect tools to deal with my experiences so I wouldn't fall into deep depressions.

One of my earliest and crudest tools was to simply refuse to experience emotions. I walled off feelings like Montressor walled up Fortunado in "Cask of Amontillado." I eventually discovered that memories live inside us, not behind those walls we so conveniently walk away from. We cannot escape our memories. Oh, I know people try that all the time -- with drugs and alcohol and other escape attempts. Psst: It won't work.

 My current policy is to refuse to wall off my feelings. I feel those sons-of-bitches to the depth, and breadth, and height of their being. I taste every subtle undertone and smell every hint of . I *experience*. I submit to my emotions. 

Apparently, a LOT of my emotions involve tears. Happy tears, sad tears, angry tears, lonely tears, hopeless tears, hopeful tears. Tears, period. I began to consider the possibility that I was depressed. Why else would I cry so often? Maybe I need help from an outside source. Then I realized that I am just experiencing the natural results of, well, experiencing and feeling emotions on a deep level. 

Being left for another woman by the man you've loved for twenty years is surely tear-inducing stuff. That seems like an appropriate reaction to me under the circumstances. I've pretty much processed through the shock and horror of it now. I've worked through mourning the future-that-will-never-be. I no longer burst into tears when I see old couples holding hands, or when I read about high-number anniversary celebrations I will never mimic.

I've dealt with the security aspect of being a single woman again, and I think I have that down pat. I am no longer afraid although I did go through a brief period of concern. I felt a little twinge of it yesterday when I realized that I have no male protectors left once my son moves out of state Monday. But I'm a big girl. :) And besides, I have a Mossberg shotgun that I am well-trained to use. I also have no reluctance to use it. Guilt is not a huge component of my tool set.

One of the hardest things to deal with involves wrestling with my perceptions of failure. Did I truly do everything I could have? No. No, I did not. I let my anger and pain wall me off. I withheld parts of me that I could have shared. I acted childishly in many instances. I made mistakes. I didn't reach out as much as I could have. Instead, I hid behind my concept of agency and live-and-let-live, and allowed another woman to march in with her hand outstretched and walk away with him rather than to risk intruding into his private thoughts.

To be truthful, I grew weary of trying. I grew tired of reaching out and having my hand slapped away. I grew tired of standing with my hand extended for days, weeks, months, and having it ignored. In reality, it's a wonder that *I* didn't seek out another partner. Instead, I learned how to exist totally isolated and emotionally unsupported. The meaning I made was that I didn't deserve love, that "this" was the best I could expect, that I should be thankful for the crumbs that made their way onto my plate.

* * *

So what do I want now? Oh my. I am an overflowing vessel. I am a heavy laden cherry tree, bent beneath the weight of ripe succulent fruit. I am filled to capacity and ready to burst. I have so much to offer, to give, to share. I have this very real sense of Time Lost, of immediacy, of urgency. I feel like an Italian or Jewish grandmother, you know the one who urges "Eat! Have another bite!" I want to pour myself out. I have so much to offer that was unappreciated for so long. And I know it's good. Whoever takes me on for this final phase will be a very happy man.

I spent far too much time sitting in a gray fog waiting to die. There was no reason to live; each successive year was just a repeat of the one before. Nothing I did changed the outcome; I was powerless to help direct my life. 

Now I see glimpses of the woman I truly am. The one who, like John Dunbar in "Dances with Wolves," rides Cisco across the Confederate battle line with her arms flung wide open and her eyes closed -- totally offering herself body and soul, without fear, come-what-may. She has discovered the folly of curling up into a self-protective ball. She is no longer embarrassed to laugh out loud, or speak her mind freely. 

I am working on filters right now. Maybe I'm a little over the "Full Tilt Boogie" line in some instances. But for now, I'd rather be too open than too closed. So if you are reading this, and you know me and are involved in my life outside of reading this blog, please . . . be gentle with my heart. Be honest with me. And if you're so inclined, come play me.~~GHC


Karin Fuller said...

So very well said, Ginger. I like what a solid understanding you have of yourself and the situation and what's ahead. Admirable! Hope I can be as brave and together.

Ginger said...

Thanks for commenting! Reading means a lot to me - comments, pretty much the world! LOL People are so reluctant to post.

I really appreciate your words and encouragement. I think you'll do just fine. Trust me, I was hardly "together" as I went through this process. My voice wavered, my legs wobbled, my hands trembled the entire time. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other one, is all. You will, too.