Friday, May 31, 2013

#465: What We Are Not Now

It's getting to the point where I'm no fun any more. I am sorry.

Yesterday's session with Mike, my  therapist was especially difficult. Tearful. Which probably means that we were on to something. Let me try to wrestle with what I think that might have been.

Sometimes it hurts so badly I must cry out loud, "I am lonely,"

The tears are evolving. A few weeks ago, they were tears of shame. Tears of grief. Tears of loss. Now, they are tears of fear. Of loneliness. I cry because I feel like an empty cup where love and laughter once overflowed. Then, I grieved for the loss of people I loved. Now I ache in the empty places where they once lived. The suffering is still real, but it carries a kind of hope along with it. Pain can change, can soften over time.

Remember what we've said and done and felt about each other.

Because we are human, we cannot choose but to remember. When the wounds of loss are fresh, reflecting on the past can sting like alcohol on a skinned knee. The pain of remembering is worse, more intense than the pain of the loss itself. It isn't just the emptiness that hurts. It's knowing that those beautiful times are gone and will never be repeated. No, we cannot choose but to ache at those memories, but what we can choose, and time is our friend in this, we can choose how we respond to them. 

Don't let the past remind us of what we are not now. 

And there it is. Stephen Stills' words have been ringing like his guitar in my mind for the past few days. He wrote Suite: Judy Blue Eyes as an expression of his own grief at the imminent loss of his lover. If you let yourself get caught up in the musical hooks of this great song, it feels like a toe tapping celebration. But I hear something more. I hear a man fighting for his life against an enemy I know well.  Depression is a murderer; he is also a liar. One of his favorite lies is that our past and our future are the same. The things that have gone badly for us, the patterns we discern are doomed to repeat themselves. The good we have lost will never return, and whatever good may come in the future is bound to be lost as well. 

Tearing yourself away from me now, you are free and I am crying,
This does not mean I don't love you, I do
That's forever, yes, and for always.

And there is the first part of the answer. Though the loss is forever, so is the love. Depression wants you to believe that the love leaves with the beloved, but that is not true. Love is the force at the center of the universe. God is love. Love, once given, can never be withdrawn. Even when a relationship comes to a stormy, angry end, the love that was set into motion in that relationship remains, like a child born of a short lived romance. Love lives, even without the company of the lover. Presence can come and go. Love is for always.

Something inside is telling me that I've got your secret,
Are you still listening?
Fear is the lock, and laughter the key to your heart
And I love you.

"Fear is the lock..." And so it is. Fear shuts our hearts up tight. Keeps us safe in our fortress. Fear remembers only the hurt, not the love. Fear has not hope for the future, only dread for a past that is fated to repeat itself. But laughter, true laughter shakes the heart's doors open so it can receive the things only an open heart can know. Compassion. Delight. Serenity. Yes, even pain. Only an open heart can be hurt, but the price of letting fear lock up our hearts is so much greater than pain. Because a closed heart has no way for love to come in. And a heart that holds no love is wasted space.

I am yours, you are mine,
You are what you are,
And you make it hard.

The things and people we lose... they are never really gone. If we loved them with truly open hearts, then they changed us, we changed one another in ways that will never go away. Life happens. Tragedy. Happiness. Celebration. Grief. Each moment, no matter how dark or frightening, is a blessing to be savored for itself. If we let fear fix our gaze on yesterdays gone, terrified of tomorrows that have not yet come, then we let our hearts be locked against the beautiful possibilities that today has to offer.

Did I lose a job once? Yes. I can work in fear of losing this one, or I can work with an open, loving heart, drinking every sweet blessing that today's work has to offer.

Did I lose a friend? Yes. Each of us has our own ship with its own course. We travel together for a time, and then life may part us. If we are wise, we will not waste a second of our journey together travelling in fear of separation. Since I'm preaching from the book of Stills today, I'm reminded of another lesson. "Love the one you're with." God sends us people for a time, and sometimes takes them away again. Let the few precious moments we share be filled with laughter and love, not fear.

Have I lost my mind? Yes, I have lost control of my thoughts and emotions. sometimes for weeks at a time. i can look back and see patterns, but my past does not have to be my destiny. Thoughts can change. The way we cope can change. Mike is helping me to understand how my thinking produces the episodes I experience. Is my depression partly orgainic? Yes, probably. But it can be fed and thrive if I keep my heart locked up and fearful. Bad brain chemistry can give me a bad day or two. Bad thinking can send me into the shadows for months. Healthy thinking, loving mindful living can help me to live each moment as it comes, grateful for the blessings of the past without being fearful of the possibilities the future holds. I can learn. I am learning.

We are learning together.



  1. It's amazing that I sang all these songs in the 60's and 70's and, often, didn't really listen to the words. Watching Stephen Stills bring such life to the guitar was thrilling!

    I drop by to read what you have posted and want you to know that I learn and am touched by your willingness to be "real". You show bravery by bearing your heart and soul. Thank you.


    1. I am so happy to hear from you, Robyn. You know the pain of loss better than most. Knowing that we can touch one another through our pain is one of the blessings of this life.


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