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Posts Tagged ‘depression’

My spirit—you know, that intangible part of me that’s connected with God—I’m not sure it lives inside me. Sometimes I think it’s as if I made her a little house out front. Like a birdhouse, pretty and ornate, but probably too small, now that I think of it.

I go out and visit my spirit every day, sometimes a lot. It’s very important to me. Sometimes it sends me back with little gifts, like flowers that I put on the table and draw strength from, and bask in their beauty.

But I don’t invite my spirit inside. Well, sometimes for a tour or a cup of tea. But not to live here. She lives near. She is part of my life.

But what if she were inside and saw me, head in hands, drowning in depression? Would she have something to say?

Or if I said, “Yes, yes, I’ll do this or that,” to please someone else, when I knew the promise would compromise me—what if my spirit saw that?

What would my spirit do when she watched me sitting at the computer, lonely, longing for love and thinking that it comes from outside of me?

What does she think of my physical exercise—is she present? Does she come along for the walk, and jog when I jog? Does she surround my body and take pleasure in the feel of strength and sweat?

Why do I leave my spirit outside in her little house when I’m worried about where I’m going to live or what is going to happen to my family? Would she not comfort me?

Why don’t I let her in, with her golden connection with God? Why don’t I let myself feel my heart full of Divine Love that pours and pours until I can’t hold any more and then it still keeps pouring?

Why don’t I let her be my advocate, and feel her tangible confidence protecting me when I need someone to tell me, “It’s okay to say no.”

What would it feel like if I let my spirit live throughout my body, see through my eyes, notice the sounds that I normally ignore? What if I lived from that place of unity with my spirit instead of just going to visit?

 

P. S. Dear friends, please take this as metaphor, not theology. It’s about realizing that I often forget that my spirit, intertwined with God, is my life, not just an intimate part of my life.

Photo by Valerie Everett

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“There’s a problem with the baby,” said the doctor, pressing the ultrasound probe to my belly. It was 2002, and I was 16 weeks pregnant, at the hospital for a normal prenatal checkup. I looked over at Steve. I could tell from his face that he understood that “problem” was a euphemism. The baby was dead.

The next piece of news was almost as bad. I was too far along for a D&C. I had to go home and wait for labor to start. A midwife told me to try not to think about it. Right.

Not only did I fail to distract myself effectively, I obsessed about this dead baby I was carrying. I felt like I couldn’t grieve, couldn’t say good bye, couldn’t move on. I was sad, but what I felt most was out of control. I so badly wanted this ordeal to be over.

I didn’t put this into words, but looking back, I can see that somewhere deep down I believed that if I prayed hard enough and often enough, if I wanted it enough, if I used enough mental and emotional energy, that somehow I could end the torture of waiting.

For two weeks I agonized over continuing to carry my lifeless child. Then the doctor decided to try to induce labor. I spent the weekend in the hospital hooked up to an IV, waiting for labor to start. At one point I was weeping under the weight of it all, and a nurse told me, “Don’t cry. You’ll give yourself a headache.”

The induction didn’t work. I went home again, still praying and straining with all my emotional might, as if I could do something.

About a week later, something clicked. I realized that ending this ordeal was truly not in my hands. Instead of praying that I would go into labor NOW, I started affirming that I released the timing into God’s hands. I made myself a mix tape (yeah, this was a while ago) of songs about release, surrender, and God being into control, and I listened to it over and over. When the ache of not being able to do anything hit, I came back again and again to opening my hands in a gesture of letting go.

The last week of waiting was actually peaceful. One month after finding out the baby was dead, I finally went into labor. I had previously wondered how women handled labor when they knew there would be no live child to hold on the other side. That wasn’t an issue. My experience is that labor pains fill our vision and we can’t think of the future, whether beautiful or tragic.

We saw our baby. I remember how each tiny rib stood out under the purple-grey skin, how the eyes were closed and the head a little misshapen from too long in a temporary grave.

The waiting was over. We could say good bye to our baby, and life could go on.

In another post, I talked about how during depression, something beautiful is growing, hidden in the darkness. But this gestating beauty often has a twin—death that is waiting to be released.  The birth of newness and the letting go of death both create labor pains that eclipse the view of what’s ahead.

Though unseen during depression (as in labor), a future still exists. That future holds the relief of final good byes to parts of our lives we have been needlessly carrying, and the future holds the emergence of new life that would have been unimaginable before going through the depths.

To me, these thoughts are gifts from a painful experience. The hope of both release and beauty occasionally peeks through the darkness of depression and encourages me. May these thoughts encourage you as well.

Photo by Jon Ovington, CC License

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