Friday, September 30, 2011

Terms of Use: A Guide to Ownership

A rendering of my inner stupa next to a Trent Miller drawing.  Can you guess which one I did?!
Dear self,

Today has been a hard day.  I don't really get why, but it has!  You seem to be very worried about the future, about where all of this is going.  Which I get.  But it seems to me you are also becoming blinded by panic!  Which is both unattractive and unsettling.

I also noticed that you are depressed, which to me means you aren't settled in yourself - you are jumping out every which way.

You still feel incredibly cheated by some of your life experiences. But I see some things that you cannot change! And so - where is all this anger coming from? You seem to be very angry at yourself.  Which is a little like shooting yourself in the foot.

I wonder if you can go inside now, and forgive yourself for the things you have done that hurt you. Go inside and tell these scared places that you are sorry.  That you hear their pain.  That you feel it.  That you want to do better, and you need their help, instead of their fury.  You get it.  You get that they are pissed.  You are listening.  And yet you don't quite know what to do about it.

Last night, you were jittery jane - jumping all over the place.  When you finally sat, at the end of the night, you felt the presence of God.

Today, in little Frances' room, you heard her tell her mother,
I'm right here for you - and you thought how that's what God is saying to you all the time - when you think you are lost. God is saying, I'm right here by you.  You are not alone. 

I have a friend who regularly goes through old journals to see what she was thinking and feeling at earlier points in her life.  I keep my journals but rarely go through them.  But I found this entry from six days ago that already seems profound and wise--as our creations often do when viewed from a distance.  I know six days is not a lot of time, but hey.  Leaps of faith can happen in a second, right?  A lot can happen in six days.

My sister-in-law checked in with me recently after several posts where I wrote about depression.  I don't mean to give the impression that I roll around on the floor moaning all my life.  In fact, I am often bopping around at unnatural speeds.  Okay, unnatural for me.  In any case, I write so much about healing and depression because I want to take the stigma out of being uncertain in life, out of feeling overwhelmed, and especially of feeling vulnerable.  I want to be intimate enough with life and each other to welcome the shadows of our psyches, the shadows of our world, and to get comfortable with those shadows, because they are a part of us, too. 

I guess I'm not much of a Toughen up! kind of gal.  Because the paradox of inner strength is that it does not come from emotional calisthenics, or regimes we impose on ourselves.  It comes when we learn to be so tender with ourselves that we become the mother to our inner child.  When we learn the skills of tenderness, we strengthen our relationship to ourselves so profoundly that we become nearly unshakeable.  And that is the kind of tough I believe in cultivating--tough from the tender inside out.

When I saw rediscovered this six-day-old letter above in my notebook, I thought of my dear friend, whom I spoke to yesterday.  Among such topics as fig-infused cocktails, shopping at Kohls, and a blouse-sweater-belt item I bought that my husband is now referring to as "the contraption," my friend and I talked about the nature of depression--how it is ultimately the result of betraying your inner will.  Like putting a big brick on your belly, pinning yourself in place. Remembering this sometimes helps shift my perspective when I am feeling low.  It helps me ease up on any expectations I might be placing on myself that are causing emotional discomfort. 

What also usually helps is a spontaneous run with my spastic dog. The disaster of us careening down the sidewalk, him halting to stop to pee without warning, me getting my arm jerked out of its socket, makes me laugh.  As he stops every half block, and I tug on his leash without mercy, we are not winning any competitions in speed or grace.  But we are having fun.  And in that delight--disorganized, a purpose in itself--I remember the unerring presence of the perfect in the imperfect.  And that, my friends, soothes my heart like no other balm.

So, maybe try this sometime, a letter to yourself - for those times when your head is out of whack with your heart, and someone wise must simply take the reigns.  Or don't!  Who gives a hoot what you do, as long as it pleases and provides for you.

With that, I say hello (& hello! & hello!) to Autumn, seeing what ways I can slow down, gather supplies, and go inside--the house, myself--to watch the light changing, to draw out the blankets, to get cozy with my family, and just like the trees, unwind.

With love and hope for your inner unveiling,


  1. I think your inner stupa and my healing machine make a good pair!

  2. So lovely (as always). This year especially I have felt such great affection for people who can be honest that life is not, in fact, a series of SUCH AWESOME THINGS and general happiness 24/7. It is so comforting for me to hear other people talk about depression, anxiety, or just general malaise, because I have experienced those things as well, and I don't think it's reasonable to expect constant pleasantness in our circumstances. Life just isn't that way. I love what you say about finding the perfect in the imperfect--yes!

  3. love this!! as per usual. and heck, perfectly imperfect--the image of you running with your dog is simply perfect, like romantic-comedy perfect. And i love how you sign your posts. it is so sincere and, not to repeat myself over and over again, but something I feel the Internet lacks!!

    and in that vein:

    All the freaking best!

  4. I just Googled it and "in that vein" seems correct. But it looks so weird. I really wish it were "in that vain."

  5. Ah my lovely friends! So wonderful to hear your thoughts. A true balm.

    Erin, I am so appreciative of your sentiments. I write so much about these things because they are a natural, even necessary, part of life. I keep thinking this week of Dylan's lyric, "They say the darkest hour is right before the dawn..." Not because I am in darkness now, but because it is so true! The contrast of light and dark gives life meaning, and I suppose my aim is to make friends with that darkness so I can explore its riches, as well as those of the light. I am glad discussing these things brings you comfort...that is, I suppose, my whole hope!

    Amelia, you hilarious thing. Let's declare all things relating to veins now overtaken with vanity.

    Trent, phew. Glad the pairing passes muster :) I am now going to think of it as a good wine & cheese combo.

    XO to all!

  6. Kara,
    When I read the Dylan lyric I instantly thought of a great Over The Rhine song/lyric.

    "the darkest part of every night
    is just before the dawn
    the sun begins to rise
    when we admit that we were wrong."

    Here's the song: Fairpoint Diary

    I can't even begin to describe how much I love Over The Rhine.

    pinot and pestojack :)

  7. Trent~

    Pinto & Pestojack, hahaha. At first I read it as PepperJack and I was like, ewwww, he is totally demoted from King of the Cheeses! But pestojack, now there's a different story. And is there anything better? Period, I mean.

    I believe that Over the Rhine is your Wilco. And yes, that voice, her voice...

    It is an incredible sentiment: "the sun begins to rise when we admit that we were wrong," and so true. It's funny how much darkness seems like a simple, but profound, mis-step when we are past it and can see it with such clarity.

    Thanks for sharing!


I love to hear your thoughts!