About Me

 

 The greatest thing we can do is to show up for our lives and not be ashamed.

 -Anne Lamott

 

I'm a creature of the word, learning to tell my honest story.

I offer it here because telling stories is the road back home.

Motherhood is not a biological designation
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« The fear of feeling what we feel | Main | One year after the fire: if I had to sum it all up...fire is good »
Friday
Nov162012

Breath. Practice. Repeat.

Breathe. Practice. Repeat.

-from a cute and overpriced shirt hanging in my yoga studio

 

Dear friend,

I want to finish my letter to you, and of course I meant to do that a few days after I posted my last blog, but I have sunk back into my depression a bit, and have not found the time, or the will, to write.

 

I saw a new therapist for the first time last week; her theory (or I should say, the current general consensus) on depression goes like this:

depression is neurochemical; which means you literally develop new neural pathways in your brain when you struggle with Clinical Depression, PTSD, or other severe mental conditions.  

 

And you are never cured.  

You can form new neural pathways that, in a sense, override the old ones through good self-care: antidepressants, diet, exercise, but the old ones remain, like faint tracks in the mind, and if you experience enough triggers or another prolonged season of high stress, you can fall back into your old paths.

Think of it like a redirected riverbed- if the river gets too much water and overflows, it flows right back into the old riverbed.

 

I don't love this theory.

I've always bucked against the idea that once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic, or once a sex addict, always an addict- like we are victims of our disorders and carry them with us for the rest of our lives.  

I think part of my pushback comes from my religious upbringing:  the conviction that Jesus as our healer means he will miraculously take away any illness and free us from any bondage. All we have to do is pray hard, lay on some hands, and believe.

 

I think I am learning to live within the paradox (indeed, I am reading a book called The Promise of Paradox): that Jesus can miraculously heal, but he often doesn't.  

And that I might be better served by learning how to walk wisely with depression lurking in the darkness on the outskirts of my path, that I might be a better steward of my energy and my resources, that I might be more empathic, more humble, more dependant upon the Lord for my strength instead of confident in my own capabilities.

I do believe we all have thorns in our flesh so to speak- that we are allowed to limp because in limping, we are granted time to recognize the beauty all around us; in limping, we never outrun the rest of the body; in limping, we come face to face with our own humanity.


I am certainly more aware than ever before of my fragility, and my capacity.  I only have so much to give in a day- I am given one full cup, and when that has been depleted, I do not get a refill.  

Every decision I make gets weighed on a scale: on one side hangs my full cup, and on the other, hangs many empty cups. How much do I pour into each cup? How many cups do I push off the scale, let them crash to the ground?  

I pray a mantra: Number my Days.  That I may enter the heart of Wisdom.  

Help me know when to say no.

 

I am not going to join a bible study, join a mom's group, enroll my kids in sports, try out all the new restaurants, write a blog every single day....at least for now...because if I choose those things, I am choosing to pour out the precious flow in my cup into the lesser things.  

My flow goes straight to my husband and my children; it goes straight into whatever will help me be the most Trinity-ish Trinity I can be- because that's the only cup I have to flow out of, and if I don't fill that one, I got nothin'.

I don't consider this selfishness. I consider this wisdom.

 

Last week was the one year anniversary of the fire; we had our small group with church that very night, and Michael shared our story- the affair and everything after- for the first time with people we don't have any history with, who have no reason to give us the benefit of the doubt.  They seemed gracious and grateful for our honesty, but I was scared to acquire a stigma so early on in the journey of getting to know people.

I also had friends visiting all last week...which I love, and wouldn't change...but which is also hard because I sleep less, drink beer at brew tours, eat more sugar, and drink more coffee.  I also got my period last week.  All in all, I underestimated how hard the week had been for me emotionally and physically, and I overestimated my ability to handle it.

(I also underestimated how hard the shift in hormones is when I'm on my period. I'm like the fish who swims by his castle and goes, Holy CRAP! There's a castle in my bowl! And then the next time around he says, Holy CRAP! There's a castle in my bowl!  I never seem to remember just how crazy my moods can be during that time of the month).

 

On Tuesday, the day after my wonderful friends left, I crashed.

 

Michael said when he came home from work that day, he could feel the heaviness in the air. 

When I am not feeling depressed, the depression is like a hazy dream from years and years before; it barely seems real.

But on Tuesday, all of the same feelings- the ache in my chest, the caving sensation in the rest of my body- like what you feel after you pull an all-nighter and your bones feel hollow and the blood seems slow- the tendency towards fatalistic thoughts about my marriage, the anger towards everything, the cussing under my breath, the sure conviction that I do not have what it takes to handle my life...all of it rushed back in an instant. 

And I'd been hoping for a cure. I'd hoped I was over this, moved on, that it was a couple month aberration in my otherwise (kinda) stable mental state.

Truth is, I over-depleted my cup of resources.  My riverbed overflowed back into my old tracks, and I sank down quick into the torrent.


Dear friend, what can I do but pray for wisdom?

I pray for a perspective shift.

Help me to see my life as ebb and flow, not "one step forward, two steps back." Not "I got better, and then I regressed."  

Life is not a forward and backward motion, but a spiral; we come back and back around to our same wounds-each time for a deeper layer of healing or revelation.


In yoga, it is Flow. And in life, as in yoga, there is no perfect; there is only practice.

 

Even this morning, my core was not strong in yoga class. I don't know why. I just know that I fell over when I tried to hold Eagle pose, and I fell over in Half Moon. Tomorrow, my core might be strong, and instead my hips might be tight and reluctant to open. Who knows? 

 

I could look at last week and see some of the choices and uncontrollable variables that contributed to my ebb back into depression, but I don't know all of what affected me.  

I have a suspicion we are infinitely more dependant than we think on weather, on light, on the cycles of the moon, on our neurochemical shifts, on each other- we are such a woven body.

 

My encouragement for you, dear friend, as you spiral through this new part of your journey, is to embrace your humanity.

As my therapist says, we are finite and flawed. And in this there is grace to accept the ebb with the same breath as the flow.

 

This life, after all, is only practice.

Love,

Trinity

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