That’s what I did. From an early age on I tried to shut out the pain. I didn’t care about others, hell I didn’t care about myself. I was trying to commit suicide on the installment plan. For me that’s what depression is about. Not dealing with the deep-seated emotional conflicts that persist below the level of my consciousness. Drugs and alcohol were just a symptom of my dis-ease
“Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.”[i]
For the first 50 something years of my life I was looking through somebody else’s prism about what life was, what love was, what relationships were, how I was in relationship to the world. Not just the significant others I have been fortunate to have met on the way, but with every other human being and even some of those who aren’t human.
However, I have learned to see with my eyes and am learning to feel with my heart. The best example I can give to you is how I look at women. It used to be when I was in the middle of my depression, like for the first 55 years or so of my life, everything I measured about a woman was external. It didn’t matter whether she was empathetic, nurturing, giving, loving. What mattered was is what she could bring to my vision of who she was.
Now I am much more interested in what matters to the people I meet. Commonality, shared interests, what we are passionate about are much more important to me than any of the external symbols and way more important than the external characteristics of the people I engage with.
I’ve learned so much by trying to incorporate the ideas behind the St. Francis of Assisi prayer. It’s a wonderful axiomatic expression of unconditional love. Putting another person first. I didn’t know how to do that before. Don’t get me wrong, I am a work in progress! I keep putting one foot in front of the other.
“Love is the burning point of life, and since all life is sorrowful, so is love. The stronger the love, the more the pain. Love itself is pain, you might say -the pain of being truly alive.”[ii]
I was taught to believe that love was going to make me whole. I was taught to believe that when I got married, that I would have matured and grown up into the man I was “meant,” to be. The pain that I experienced around that not happening is one of the illuminations come too late that I get to at times struggle with.
“Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” [iii] I am grateful that I had the opportunity to live in the world of knowledge. Because as much as I learned, there was this angst that I didn’t know enough.
What is so wonderful about working through all of the pain that I’ve carried my whole life is that my imagination has opened up more than it ever has. It’s not to say that overcoming the fear isn’t difficult at times. What I am saying is that I can imagine almost any scenario happening for me in my life. I could never imagine that before. There is one who has all power, and it’s not me.** Whew!!
“You don’t spell it…you feel it.” – Pooh”
*Bruce Human Touch .”[i]Albert Einstein[ii] Joseph Campbell. [iii] Albert Einstein**I learn more from a “wounded healer” session with my friend the painter than I do in most meetings.
It is better to seek forgiveness than it is permission.