I sat on the kitchen floor with my 9 year old daughter as she showed me the cut on her foot. Even though she scraped it a few days ago, it didn’t seem to be healing. She complained that it was hurting and was getting worse. As we prepared to clean it and apply ointment, she cautiously asked,
“Mommy, will it sting?” Yes, it will sting, I calmly responded.
“Will it hurt?” Yes, it might hurt, but it shouldn’t last very long.
“Why does it have to hurt?” When you feel the pain it is your body’s way of letting you know it is trying to heal.
“How will I know if it is working?”
Well, every cut is different and we just have to take extra time to take care of it. We have to pay close attention to see when it starts to feel better.
Healing. Hurting. Do they have to go hand in hand? As the body heals from injury, we are afforded the opportunity to see and feel the physical change. We know if the wound/injury is healing through the physical evidence. But how do we truly know if and/or when we are “healing” from our emotional scars?
I have found many ways to “feel better” after a depressive episode comes and goes. I have worked hard to research, study, and talk about a variety of strategies to “deal” with anxiety and those villainous demons that pop up into my story from time to time. I can talk a good game. I can back up my words with actions; yoga, volunteering, prayer, exercise, etc.
Co-producing This Is My Brave seemed to be a culmination of all my skills and interests all wrapped up in one experience. It kept my mind and spirit focused and connected me with beautiful and brave souls that changed my heart forever. It presented challenges that pushed me out of my comfort zone. It strengthened existing relationships and birthed new ones.
The audience applauded. Love poured in through social media and personal messages. My heart was full. My body was exhausted, but this was to be expected. My house was a disaster 😊 This was also to be expected.
But then after the final bow, an overwhelming sadness and confusion settled in. My soul experienced a deep burning and a curtain of despair quickly and fiercely fell into place.
Within a few days of being on such a high, suddenly my will to live, my desire to paint color in the world dissipated.
My good friend depression was paying a visit. Ugh. I can’t do this right now. Who let her in?
Here’s how …
Cancer has the power to destroy your body. It shows up in your story and can rob you of the life you planned.
Mental illness is like cancer of the soul. It has the power destroy your mind. It is a disease that shows up in your story and will suck you dry of the will to live. The culmination of this disease is suicide. Thinking about suicide brings relief to a hurting mind. To my hurting mind.
As I sit here writing this, I think about the pain that the human spirit is able to endure. Every moment of every day, someone we know is fighting a battle.
When I read excerpts or pieces that convey the message “you have a choice to be happy,” I want to tell them to shut the hell up 🙂 (kidding, sort of) What about those of us who are drowning in grief, sadness or hopelessness???
When I am in the depths of depression or drowning in anxiety, I do not have the choice to “be happy.” I wish it was that simple.
I do, however, have the choice to choose life. The irony of this is I can’t make that choice when I am swallowed by the dark shadows of sadness. I have to make this choice when those glimpses of joy permeate through the wall of darkness.
I must be willing to push through the pain. The kind of pain that healing requires. True authentic gut wrenching healing takes work. Hard work. The kind of work that requires more than just showing up.
When my daughter asked “does it have to hurt?” I need to ask this of myself. The answer I must give is YES. It does have to hurt.
“Crying is one of the highest devotional songs. If you can cry with a pure heart, nothing compares to such a prayer.” ~ Swami Kripalu
Sharing a slice of my truth as part of the BRAVE cast seemed like the most authentic thing to do as a co-producer of the show. So, I pulled back the curtain on my private struggle and shared just a small glimpse in front of 200 + people. Okay. I was nervous as hell, but I did it.
What I now know is this experience of speaking my truth was a huge step in my healing journey. The sadness that I felt afterwards was my body, mind and soul beginning a necessary process. The process of embracing the pain, shame, embarrassment, guilt, confusion and despair that I had carried for so many years.
The coping strategies that I have mastered over the past 20+ years have lead me back to the same place again and again. Back to START. Each of these experiences has been and will continue to be driven by the “doing.” I am the master “doer.”
God calls us to “Be still and know.” I can be still, right? I pray. A lot.
But can I learn to just “be?” Who am I if I am not moving? The minute I stop moving, the darkness envelopes me. I know this in my head but I have never allowed my heart to feel this deeply.
After the final bow was taken and the show ended, I stopped moving. Darkness found her way in. The waters of self-doubt began to quickly rise.
The past few months have been all about me wading through these very waters.
Step ONE. Meditation. Mindfulness.
Has it cured me? Not yet, but I am working my tail off every single day to move this practice from my head to my heart.
Ironically, I have read, studied and even practiced meditation off and on over the past 20 years and found no solace or relief. So, why try again?
I choose life.
I AM LOVE.
These words echoed throughout the quiet, calming space.
I AM LOVE.
These words bounced around the room. Landing softly, gently and powerfully on my heart.
I AM LOVE.
“We can’t take back what is done, what is passed. So lay down your fears and let us start from here. Come as you are.” ~ Damien Rice
My first meditation class. I came as I was. I laid down my fears and started from that moment.
Was it painful? Hell yeah.
Was it uncomfortable? Yup.
I am forever grateful to the teacher of my first meditation class, my friend Jordan, whom I met through my BRAVE experience. His passion for meditation is contagious and just what I needed to crack the code to begin my own healing journey.
How have I done since I walked out of that first class? Hmmm. Good question 😊
I have embraced not only the practice of meditation, but I have also spent hours listening to, reading about and learning from the experts. I still have much to learn.
“When that ocean of doubt comes / Don’t let me drown in my sorrow / And don’t let me stay at the bottom.” ~ Lecrae
I have fallen. I have cried. I have gotten back up.
I have begun to share my journey with my kids. Sharing my truth out loud at the show was step one.
I am honest with them. I am vulnerable with them. They respond to my honesty with raw compassion and love.
I practice and share pieces of meditation every chance I get. I even shared bits and pieces during VBS last week! LOL (Teaching kids and teens the art of being still, allowing God to enter their heart, and focusing on their breath was a beautiful experience.)
Writing this blog entry has helped me wade through the waters of fear. I started writing my thoughts several months back and the words sat dormant. Learning of our friend’s passing this week was a raw reminder that our journey is not meant to be kept hidden.
I am choosing life. In honor of those brave souls who had no choice.
Thank you for reading. I look forward to the next time we can share this journey of love and light with one another. xoxo
I am dedicating this blog entry to the following BRAVE souls who lost their courageous battle with cancer:
And one very special BRAVE soul who continues to fight the fight:
Each of these beautiful, brave souls are my heroes and inspire me to choose life.