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Sunday Harvest. February 12, 2023
Recently, while journaling, I reflected on how often I feel compelled to give a disclaimer before sharing these pieces and parts of myself. The disclaimer would go something like, “If you choose to proceed, please do so with compassion and care, an open mind and the understanding that I am a woman who is still growing into herself, changing and learning how to be herself, bold, sensitive and at home in her own skin. Please proceed knowing that there is no expectation of you, from me, to agree with the ways in which I am, or the faiths I believe. However, if my presence, and these words, summon questions or feelings unfamiliar, my hope is that you will welcome them, take them in with curiosity, and consideration.”
I do not share these secret moments to draw sympathy. I share to provide a sort of ground, likely more for myself, than others. I share also for point of reference, and perspective. One that may extend beyond that of your lived experience and so, may help to stretch your line of sight.
In 2014 I uprooted myself from New York City where I’d lived for thirteen years and regarded as “home”, and returned to Los Angeles, the “home” where I was born. One year after this uprooting I experienced a sixth-month period of depression. Still, in this moment, I have a hard time saying the word. The words I’ve used to describe the deepest, and darkest moments of this period I’ve never written down on paper, until now. At my lowest, I felt as if I was sitting in a place beneath hell. Not the fiery kind one might envision based on religious descriptions, more so, this was a place void of light or air. There was no way up or out, and where I sat was the furthest down I thought I could go until the day I found myself sinking deeper. In this place I felt numb and aching; bereft and without the language to describe my mental state, or fully understand its origin, I became as unfamiliar with myself, as I appeared to be to those around me.
My breaking point came on the day I envisioned getting up from where I sat on the couch, walking over to the oven, turning it on, blowing out the flame, and laying my head down. In the next moment what I recall is the feeling of my knees as they buckled, hitting the concrete ground outside my front door. I was kneeling, doubled over, crying in a wailing sort of way, begging for a kind of help, or saving, that I had been unable to find or give myself. This was the first of two times I’d descended to this level of low, the second time occurred less than a year ago when I stood, contemplating, at the edge of a rocky hillside, listening as my heart pleaded with my mind, asking it to hold on. I stepped away from the edge that day, and held. Soon after, I admitted the truth, to myself and my therapist, that I was and, for some time, had not been ok. This began a different kind of therapy, self-study and practice which has been mentally draining, emotionally exhaustive, and immensely beneficial.
I am blessed and incredibly grateful to be sitting, standing and existing here still.
I feel it significant to state that mental health disorders do run in my family. Because of this, but not this alone, I may be more prone to slipping into states of lows, and even as this is not a place I have desired to go, there are parts of me that more easily gravitate here. Independent of my family history, I have begun to learn more about myself, and some of the less scientific and more spiritually (not to be confused with religious) rooted reasons for my periods of emotional waning.
If there is one thing western culture discourages against, it is the understanding of our bodies and minds beyond what science can verify. We are taught to favor logic, over feeling, even when feeling offers us more awareness, connection, empathy, and care. The western world encourages us to think more than we feel, if we feel at all, which essentially means we are moving through the world deeply disconnected from ourselves. When it comes to mental health, depression and suicide, and especially if you’ve never experienced a kind of tug-of-war between yourself, spirit, heart, and mind, it’s hard to see, or understand, that regardless of the love and care that may be offered, or provided by those around you, when you don’t feel safe inside yourself, the safeties that may be available outside of you, cease to carry an anchoring kind of weight. Instead, the weight may feel like an unyielding load, or expectation, too heavy to carry, or bear. Situate this alongside other arduous life happenings, both the foreseen and unexpected, that we must navigate, and make some semblance of peace with, and you find yourself at a point, or an edge, realizing that even as you have been getting by, you are merely, and just, hanging on. And whatever it was that enabled you to hold thus far, is no longer sufficient enough.
The last several months have consisted of deep introspection. Mental and emotional re-tracing of my emotional skin, feeling in and around wounds and scars where debris still lays settled and gipping beneath my surfaces. For the last several months I have been opening.
There is a way of being I am growing towards, hoping to embody even. It’s a whole way of being that encompasses duality, and multiplicity. A way of being that holds space, leaves room for, and welcomes in all my facets, versions and phases. It’s a wholeness that mimics that of the moon, rocky and solid, with cracks, crevices and grooves. This kind of whole requires that I consider myself earth, and air, and understand the needs of my atmosphere. The air asks that I keep it clear, and my earth asks that I respect its grounds, feel when it calls for tending, and listen when it is speaking…
Sunday Song: Jill Scott, ‘I Keep’
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