We must take the actions that bring love to life, making it the organising principle behind all our endeavours.
How easy is it for us to keep on loving when our heart has been or is breaking? How difficult it is to keep believing that we have worth when others tell us through word or action that we don’t? How easy is it to say just for today I am not going to allow darkness and depression to have the last word?
The truth is that depression and sadness can steal our life energy away and the deeper truth is our vital connection to our spirit in some way along the way got stolen if we are in deep depression, not just a deep sadness due to grief, perhaps of losing a person or a relationship with something or someone we loved.
In depression we find ourselves covered by fog on grey dull day after grey dull day or smothered over by a blanket of blackness and doom where no light seems to penetrate. ….. A pall of dark heavy rust covers everything……. In alchemy this kind of state was called the nigredo or the blackening and it was understood not to be the end but the beginning of the deeper inner work or journey of making gold which to my mind was they way alchemists symbolically portrayed the process of bringing darkness to light.
I know how impossible it is when you find yourself in this kind of state, to change the focus at all and in many ways depression is a right of passage so many of us go through on our journey back towards the light. Many of us may spend lots of years here and we may have to undergo a great deal of inner work to break free. However it is becoming apparent to me that on this path we at some stage reach a powerful turning point where we make a kind of separation and gain some insight into how we may be perpetrating old patterns, thoughts, perceptions and kinds of beliefs which keep darkness, suffering, fear and pain recycling.
In my experience loss, grief and depression are in many ways spiritual experiences which have a healing purpose one that can only be truly integrated and understood as we find the strength to weather those soul storms within the fiery crucible of our own being. There are things we do to keep old patterns going and there are things we can do to shed old skins that though cosy and familiar are now becoming too limiting to live within or may be smothering or strangling us. Healing work also involves bringing loving awareness to our most painful moods and feelings.
As we grow in consciousness though we start to take responsibility for where we are keeping our focus. The deep sea divers amongst us have to travel back down to the silted bedrocks of the unconscious to retrieve our wreckage but we cannot and must not stay submerged in those inky seas when there is a sunlit shore to go to and we can often find that by nurturing the positive, good, healing and beautiful. Like an aquatic bower bird we bring our wreckage up and find a way to make art of it, on the sunnier shores of consciousness.
For myself I have known the paralysing hold of darkest depression. I know that at these times when it has seemed almost impossible to make forward movement of some kind that is what I have needed to do. When my marriage first broke up and I was all alone and almost comatose in the dead of winter what saved me on some days was being able to go to the local heated pool and swim, immersing myself in the water which helped to break apart and dislodge some of the pain. These days it is a brisk walk with Jasper in healing natural spaces which helps me most when old demons or ghosts start to circle.
Shifting the focus from negative experiences and energies helps us not to magnify them and breaks the pattern of punishing ourselves over and over with things that have passed. By all means we must know and feel our deepest responses to abandonment and abuse, rage and anger which are valid forces which help us to break its strangle hold. But ideally we use these as the fuel for breaking free not staying trapped and paralysed.
As I look back I see how in my own depression how much harder I can make things by focusing solely on the negative….. there is a difference between honestly acknowledging pain and difficult things in order to be authentic, understand, develop compassion and empathy, feel and release them and keeping the focus on what hurts by running the pain over and over and over in my head. I know for myself that what helps me is to find a way to break this cycle of obsession by putting my focus on to something uplifting that removes me from this dark place. I feel it helps us to catch ourselves and take some steps to change the focus and shift it towards something positive, full of energy light, soul or beauty.
Today I have been listening to an inspiring interview by a pastoral care therapist reminding us how important focusing on or finding things of beauty outside the darkness of deeply depressive mind states is to encourage in us a sense of hope and forward movement.
Part of our healing too involves acceptance of what happened to us much as we wish it never happened to us, the realisation that we did not bring it on ourselves and that the legacy of hurt and hate is a natural part of not being championed, nurtured, helped or protected when we were young. We use these hurt feelings to show us where our boundaries lay, collapsing a boundary in forgiveness too soon may be counter productive and I know in my own life I was often hoodwinked by abuser’s denials and fob offs to collapse boundaries I should never have brought down. I kept wanting to see the good side in them which was the unconscious part of them that perpetrated pain but was unwilling to recognise and validate the state of their own inner injury.
My therapist has been the only one at times I felt I could fully turn to who would not abuse me again and so lately I have been recognising how lonely a path truth healing of our wounds and injuries is. The path narrows if we choose not live in denial any more as so much of society can. I have in this process also found blogging about and sharing with others who have suffered abuse and abandonment has for me been an excellent source of healing. I am grateful to say that on my blog I have never really received negative invalidation of any kind when I have honestly shared from my pain and that has meant that blog space has been for me one of the places where beauty is alive in the love that comes to and from other readers.
These days on any new day I am able to make healthier choices on where I put my focus. Beauty on any day becomes a priority for me as it is the quality of the choices that I make now which determines the goodness and beauty, peace and serenity of my day. I guess I am saying that slowly I am learning what self care looks like, it was something I knew so little of in my days of addiction and even later recovery. It was only with the finding of my inner child and the acceptance of all her feelings, validation of which was so essential to my healing that I have learned how important this kind of self care is. It consists in being loving to and nurturing of myself no matter what the cost. And of making sure I have inner boundaries in place to defend against any attacks from the inner critic that want to steal from me, peace, love and joy. And when I struggle with stinking thinking I can ask for help from a loving power to help me keep the focus on love, self acceptance, self compassion and beauty.