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Wednesday, February 02, 2005



I'm prone to depression. That's not news and I know I'm in good company. Still, I feel that demon clawing at me again. Yesterday was a particularly horrific day. It didn't get better even after I blogged. In fact, it got downright ugly and very painful. I can't go into detail because confidentialities are at stake. Both on the homefront and otherwise. I feel like a complete and utter failure as a mother. I know that's my emotion talking. Chatterbox, that one. I spent this morning crying my eyes out and pouring out my worried heart and frazzled mind to my sweet sister Lokelani. The gods blessed me in a profound way by putting her in my life. I will never be able to convey that enough.

I was going through my journal and found something that I wrote 10 years ago. You don't have to bother to read it. But it helped me get a few things in perspective. I'll survive. And this really difficult time will pass. Sometimes, backtracking is a good way to find your path forward. Even when you don't want to.

I Breathe

“I breathe…therefore I am”. At least that’s what I thought. An involuntary expansion and contraction of muscles and organs that causes me to live. I contemplate that offering of words. Perhaps I should say…”that causes me to exist”. Yes, exist. The most menial of descriptions seems to fit where I am, who I am, what I am. Simply; One Who Exists…no more, no less. Which would lead one to the obvious conclusion that I am on this Earth merely to take up precious oxygen. Then again, I might be leaning on the edge of assumption; for what would anyone really know about what happens inside the cranial cage that encases my cerebral sponge? I barely know myself.

It would take a voluntary act to cause the involuntary act to cease. Imagine though I might, I am far too cowardly a creature to make it so. Cowardly but hopeful. Hopeful that there will be something more waiting in the wide expanse of breathing room. I cohabitate on this wide expanse of breathing room with 4.5 billion others who also have muscles and organs that involuntarily expand and contract. Inwardly I wonder if they merely exist as well. Or perhaps someone has found the great secret that the wide expanse of breathing room has to offer and has moved from the “Simply Existing” stage to the “Living” stage. It seems to be a well-kept secret. Maybe I choose not to see it.

Despite the fact that I am not alone, I am lonely. More often than not, my brain is on overdrive. Vicariously, my thought processes are a wild, breakaway stallion. When he runs, I don’t sleep. I want to sleep. Sleep is the necessary escape my body needs from my brain. Sometimes it seems that this gelatinous mass of exploding synapses seeks to cause my involuntary motor actions to cease. It’s a little game we play; my body versus my brain, my brain versus my body. In my cerebral wanderings, I often think it might be a blessing. I think it…but I’m not always so sure.

So many times, when this demonic melancholy takes hold, I run to the nearest self-help book and try to fill my mind with what’s “good” and “pure” and “right”. But more often than not, I find myself betrayed by the very thing that I sought to take those steps of faith toward. Self-improvement became self-deprecation. I am my own worst enemy. There is almost a sick sense of pride in that. No one can be as cruel to me as I have been to myself. I won’t allow it. I smile as I say it…feeling much like Dr. Seuss’ Grinch. If I say it first, then it invalidates anything else anyone might think or have to say about me. I lose, but in losing I win. I smile again, but I’ll be damned if I know why.

Life 101: Secretly I wonder if there won’t indeed be a quiz at the end of this course. I try to remember back if I ever signed a contract, or registered for this program to begin with. Yet here I am, stuck smack in the middle of it, and still looking for crib notes. There must be a shortcut. There’s a shortcut for everything. I don’t really care about what I’ve been told. That you can’t get something for nothing, that nothing is free, that you can’t go around it, over it, under it, you must go through it. I’ve heard it all, read it all, done it all. I’m still looking for the crib notes. Then I wonder again, what happens after the test? Where is pass? Where is fail? I think I may be in the wrong class.

I raise my hand and look desperately around the room for the teacher. “Oh God, please call on me…please. Because when you do I’ll simply asked to be relieved of duty, or whatever this hell is that I’ve been assigned to”. It’s then that I notice that there is no teacher. No teacher. No other “students”. No other anything. Just me. I’m alone. All alone with my arm raised in the air. Waiting to be called on by….no one. I smile at the ridiculousness of it. My smile widens into a grin. The grin grows to a feeble snicker. The feeble snicker becomes a sinister laugh. What else is there to do? It’s ludicrous and at this point uncontainable. The laugh is released into the wide expanse of breathing room where it bounces off the walls of the empty space I occupy. The empty space where I wait with my arm raised in the air.

Slowly, I let my arm fall to its rightful place by my side and contemplate my options. The sobering reality is that I can simply sit here and wait to be called upon by no one, or set my mind and body in motion, and move along. I surprise myself by standing up and moving my feet, one in front of the other, toward what I perceive to be a door. Really, it’s just a hole in the empty space I occupy, but my brain tells me it will suffice to be a door, and so I trust it. This is no simple task…trust. I’ve gathered in the time I’ve occupied this body that trust is not something to be taken for granted. I do not give it freely or easily, and I’ve learned that once it has been abused, it may never be regained. It is a commodity most precious; but it cannot be bought. It is harbored by an eggshell perched precariously on the wall. I sometimes think that the rhyme from my childhood about Humpty Dumpty was nothing more than a lesson on trust. But that’s me…and I’m pretty much cracked anyway. There; unbelievably enough….I’ve just smiled.

So, now the feet have moved, one in front of the other, and have brought me to this brain-perceived door. I stand at the threshold of it before I venture through. What will be there? Another vast space of nothing that I call my heart. No, it couldn’t be that, for that is now lodged in my throat. Strangely enough, I still feel my pulse, which tells me I’m alive though I’m not sure I’ve moved out of the numbness stages of this experience. I must have…because my heart, despite all I have told it, continues to maintain it’s function inside this shell I call a body. Suddenly, I’m aware that I have a friend. This heart. This damn heart. This heart that has been empty, and full, and empty again. This heart that has heard my cries, felt my pains, risen in my joys, soared at my accomplishments (though I don’t allow myself to feel that pleasure that often; as if I were undeserving). In the past, I have taken up allies with my brain to cause this friend of mine to stop beating. I have willed it so, to no avail. I have taken up chemical “warfare” against it. Yet it struggles on, despite my best attempts to end its being. What more can I call it? There is no higher accolade than this…my friend. Yes, it hits me again. I actually have one.

I gather my courage. The courage that my friend gives me as it beats wildly in my chest. The sound is overwhelming and I know the volume has been turned up so that I will understand that I am not alone. I take a deep breath and look through the doorway. I voice the words, “one foot in front of the other” and then I giggle because my voice sounds so funny to me. Another deep breath, another audible affirmation “whatever it takes..whatever it takes”. Then I hear it. The voice of my friend. From deep within me. From that place that has been so quiet for so long. From that struggling spirit who has stayed with me through all of this and begged for my attention in the darkness. “Do this..you can do this..for me”. I stop dead in my tracks for the moment. My God…that was my own voice. My very own voice.

I listen. Standing before the unknown, I reach out toward the darkness with my hand, and then I think better of it. No, I cannot take baby steps in this. These must be the footsteps of a grownup. It must be so right now…or it will never be. Right now. I close my eyes, lift my face to the darkness, hold my breath, and step out. For the first time, in a very long time, I do not feel afraid or alone. Trust guides my feet. Faith steers my brain. Love lifts my soul. I realize that all of this was in me all the time. I thought those demons took them from me, but they merely masked their existence. They lied to me and I allowed myself to listen. Never again I say. Never. As I step through the door…..I open my eyes, rub them slowly, and try to focus. No, this will not be an easy task. The struggle will continue with every new step, every new breath I take in this wide expanse of breathing room. I speak the words..”Here it is, the beginning…” I throw back the covers and get out of bed.


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