“…and not all of them are evil.” I’m sitting outside my favorite place for sociological experimentation, Peet’s coffee in Napa, and I just saw someone walk by who I used to work with in the wine industry about 38 years ago. I observed that my old friend was probably 100 pounds heavier than when I knew him when we both worked at the winery. The common aspect of life that he and I share is that we’re both alcoholics. I don’t know if Bill is still drinking anymore, it really doesn’t matter. What I noticed is that I was looking at him with empathy. It was obvious, his struggle because of weight. Yet I can’t really see that same aspect of life for me. I cant see that my struggle to be present is no different than his.
How this relates to the original quote is that my mind wants to see all of my weaknesses as evil. All of my shortcomings are about something intrinsically wrong with me, there is something “wrong,” about my existence. So I’m left with the dilemma of working to fully understand and deeply knowing that I am no different, no worse, no more evil than the next person walking down the street.
Depression is no different than any other weakness. In 12 step programs they call them “character defects.” I rail against that term because to say I am responsible for my depression is like saying my friend Bill, from the winery days, is responsible for his dis-ease. I wish I could say that I have overcome this part of my self, my shame, but I cant. I think by saying it here that it is getting better, but I have to acknowledge that I haven’t overcome it.
I just watched a man my age go by in one of those motorized trikes. He was with his daughter, who was a teenager, and I did not look at him with the disdain that I look at myself unconsciously with. I am hoping that there is a change that is coming about and that I can start to look at myself without the shame that is so dominant in my unconscious.
This struggle is what keeps me from really breaking out from the chains of the stigma that depression binds me with.
Opening quote is from the movie “Ulee’s Gold.”