This has taken me decades to learn, and I did not learn the easy way... There is one thing of which I have become unwaveringly certain. When the Lord God is not the priority in our lives, it is impossible to find our purpose, and truth will forever evade us. Despite the illusions of life plans, both large and small, or our sense that we're in control, the truth is that we are wandering without sight, aimlessly meandering through the darkness, unaware that we have never seen ourselves or our surroundings in the light. Accustomed to seeing in the dark, we create an imaginary world from the shadows. Once the light of truth breaks through, we find that we are not where we thought we were, and the horror of what cast those shadows becomes abysmally clear.
I’ve often heard black described in less than flattering terms. After all, black is dark and scary things lurk in the darkness. Shadows are dark, unhappy moods are dark, monsters hide in dark closets and of course, it is always darkest before the dawn. At this moment, on the other hand, if I saw only a white light, seemingly at the end of a sort of tunnel, I think I’d head back to black. Back to life.
Colours, bright colours; cheerful, right? Springtime, after all, screams colour and with that colour new life abounds. Of course new life means that there was old life that had to perish, martyred for the rainbow of new.
What is black though, if not where all the humanly visible wavelengths of light commune? It is that special dimension where all rays are finally accepted for who they really are. By golly they deserve it too, because if one thing can be said for a WOL it’s that it does not conform. Might get into some hot water and bend the rules a little here and there, but never conforms. It stays true to who it is whether rejected, like red, by the angry apple, or just ignored and made to feel invisible by the color-blind. It is still it’s own wavelength. Black is acceptance. Black is not the absence of color, it is every color living in harmony.
White, cruel white. White rejects, reflects and exposes. Does the brightness of white not expose what lurks in the darkness? It does, but let’s hope that what lurks in the darkness is not you, and what’s exposed is not the author of your demise. Perhaps certain things are hiding in the blackness because they are private, and maybe the callous flick of the light switch without warning is assault worse than the violent rip of a bandaid from your hairy arm. White is bright, white is blinding, white hates colour.
So what about black then? Well the way I see it, unlike the darkness of white, where colour is not welcomed, black is where all colour lives in harmony. Black is light. In fact, black’s light is so bright that we go blind when we stare directly at it.
Grasping at Worlds
Wait, please wait
oh, where are you?
I see you as I look away
don’t leave so soon
I can all but just recall
a distant place
I know so well,
but not at all
Where am I there
Was it this life?
or dreams of day
For an instant
a breeze, you’re here
Another world in just a dream?
or by my side
lost in my own
What are you
should I know?
forgotten scent of long ago
I look away
for better view
I just can’t place
this déjà vu
They were like wolves. No, hyenas. Ripping and tearing, feasting on my most intimate frailty.
This is the most personal post I have written. It may sound sappy to some. I hope not, because I am putting myself out there right now. I’m hoping somebody will connect.
Beautiful isn’t pretty.
I don’t usually share this part of my life with anyone, well, ever. It is about addiction. This time I will because it is the only way I know how to share what followed. It took a long time and it is only by chance (or was it?) that I was given a glimpse of such beautiful ugly. I hope it will be for someone out there.
It was a long road for me. Many years battling serious addiction. Cocaine, Pills, Heroin, anything really, but those were my drugs of choice. I am not sure why I am still alive, my present existence is an unlikely outcome. I have been homeless, I have ruined careers, lost possessions, and many other great possibilities were sacrificed for the lifestyle I became caught up in. It seemed like an impossible cycle. I was very low for a long time. I don’t remember a time when my reality was bearable enough to not desperately seek any sort of self medication I could find. The substances described above were those that I settled into after many years of trying anything to soften my waking life. I hear there is a correlation between bipolar and addiction. In case anyone is wondering, I was diagnosed Bipolar before my life of drugs. I’m sure the drugs worsened my condition, but they didn’t cause it. Needless to say my self-image was not in line with what those who loved me saw. Don’t get me wrong, I appeared to be functioning well. I achieved multiple degrees in university, awards, started careers, but I was a master at hiding it. The internal agony on the other hand was like being given a day pass from hell to carry out the image of a normal life, knowing that I didn’t live here and I was still always a citizen of hell.
When things were almost at their worst, I had spent everything on heroin and cocaine. While my fiancé worked away, I spent. When he came back and reality set in that there was no money, it was one of the worse days of my life. I thought, “We’ve been through hell and back together, but this is the limit, and I cruised past that line with the top down, leaving nothing but a trail of dust.” As he stood there, left with nothing but a tumbleweed bouncing in my tailwind, he found the strength, and had the vision and optimism to forgive me, once I admitted what I had done. He didn’t hold it against me and continued to discuss what we were going to do and how we would deal with it. I had a new appreciation and confidence in the depth of his love for me, which he always expressed, but I couldn’t truly absorb. This is another one of the situations that we survived as a couple, but it gets worse. There was a new bottom to come.
My world started crumbling down. Partly because of the drugs, the illness, and many months of extreme stress. Each making the other worse. At my worst I was using heavily every day, doing enough heroin and cocaine to kill a horse. I always mixed heroin, cocaine, benzos, not to mention all my psychotropic medication. My fiancé told me that he thought I wasn’t going to wake up. He could never sleep because he kept getting up to make sure I was still breathing. My breathing would get so shallow from the heroin especially with the benzos. I never knew he did this. He said that he thought he would have to leave so many times, even though it would devastate him. He calls me his heart. His life. And he means it.
Things had become almost 100% better, thanks to quality medical and psychological care, including drug counselling and addiction professionals. However, one thing that I still hadn’t learned was how to love myself. I still didn’t have the tools to put that into action. I understood the concept, but was missing an essential component. I wasn’t sure what that was until recently, and that is the reason for this lengthy sharing. It is almost easy to lose sight of the depth of meaning when describing the beauty and wonder of life. It isn’t that anybody doesn’t believe it, or mean it, it is just easy to forget the unfathomable wonder and beauty that is being described. I thought I got it, and I did on a certain level. I even agreed. What I didn’t realize, though, was that beauty does not mean pretty. In fact, I have come to see that the true beauty in life is not pretty. Let me explain.
Something happened recently that allowed me the honor of a glimpse of life’s elusive beauty. Perhaps it is not elusive, just really hard to see clearly through our personal shit storms.
Just to fill you in, my fiancé calls me his heart, baby bird, squirrely bird, his life, tons of sappy pet names. (Don’t gag – it’s just so you will get the significance of something coming.)
He and I were shopping a few days ago. Nothing special, just an average day, then a song came on. I had heard it before and liked it, but I didn’t personalize it. I had only heard it a couple of times. Then my partner walked up to me and said, “This is the song that I would always sing in my head when I thought of you when you were really bad.”
“What do you mean?” I asked. He answered…
“When I thought you were going to die, or that I was going to have to leave you to save you. I would never sleep, I checked your breathing every couple of hours I was so scared that you weren’t going to wake up. I really thought you were going to die. I would see you nodding off and losing consciousness while watching TV, or at the computer. I was getting ready to lose you. This is the song that played constantly in my head, and when I hear it now I remember that time and how lucky we are to still have each other. I would have died without my heart. You are my life, my heart, I love you more than you will ever know. How could I live without my Baby Bird? I felt so sad for you, a sadness I have never felt before.”
I almost cried in the store thinking about what he was going through during that time. I had no idea. I was seeing things through my eyes. Never truly knowing how to feel loved by myself or anybody else. I was so lonely.
I lived what he was talking about, I was there, but as myself. Even though it wasn’t his intention, he gave me the rare gift of really seeing myself through the eyes of someone who truly, selflessly, loves and adores me. I haven’t thought about myself the same way since. I felt sadness for myself in a way that you can only feel out of love for someone. It is no news to anyone that knows me that I have never held myself in high esteem. Trying to understand how to love myself was entirely lost on me. I didn’t know how. His telling me about what that song meant to him showed me beauty. Beauty exists in love, and pain, true and selfless pain, exists only in love. My eyes opened to one of life’s moments of true beauty, and it was too beautiful to be pretty.
Soon things started to change before my eyes.
My rare glimpse of beauty began to show me not only myself through the eyes of love, but I saw others through eyes of love in a way I never have. Could this be what it means to not be able to love others until you love yourself? I was shown the beauty that existed out of my ugly. Beauty that could have only come into existence because of my ugly. I consider this one of the defining moments in my life’s journey. Now, where I would have only ever seen ugly. The ugly of the person I only knew how to hate and blame. The ugly that I took personally, resented, hated, cursed, and worst of all, the ugly for which I had no ability to see with sympathy, empathy or love. Now I see. I first see the ugly, but now I am not fooled. The ugly, the illusion, is not the person, it is the manifestation of their pain. To see through the ugly, to the pain is where lies the window to the true person, to true beauty.
The rarest, most breathtaking beauty is that which is seen through the ugly. When you are loved at your worst. When you hate yourself. When someone loves unconditionally, never losing sight of your beauty. To experience that dimension and depth of love, and to be given a glimpse of yourself through the eyes of someone who sees only your beauty, when it is almost impossible to see anything but the ugly, is a gift. Those loving eyes cannot see the ugly as being a part of you, of who you are. Love sees through the ugly, understands it is the disguise of pain, and sees through to the true beauty behind. It is a special love to see that authentic, beautiful ugly. The long-suffering and devotion of one who loves another through those open eyes, comes from the inability to give up hope that the one they love will one day get a glimpse of themselves through open eyes. To see their beautiful self the way they have always looked to the one who loves them unconditionally.
I will never forget the first time I got a glimpse of myself through such loving eyes. I don’t think it is something you can give yourself, I think it has to be given. Stay aware lest the moment pass before your eyes, because if you are given a glimpse, life stops and you get lost in a beautiful moment of the infinite now.
Depression and laziness are not the same thing.
I am coming out of a severe depression that has lasted for almost an entire year. It began to subside, slowly, about three months ago. When I say slowly I mean, I could start to remember what I did the day before, dates, appointments. I could finally take a shower and even use shampoo.
I really hate depression. It makes me feel lazy. What’s worse, it makes me feel like other people think that I am lazy. “Get up and go outside for a walk, it’ll make you feel better!” “You don’t have it that bad, look at how good you have things!” Add more guilt here. Do they not know that I would do almost anything to have the energy to get up and go for a walk? I would love to comb, and blow-dry my hair? Maybe add a little make-up and put something nice on? That’s funny. Those things are out of the realm of what I would do almost anything for. I would do almost anything to have the energy to take off my sweats and take a shower that includes washing my hair, shaving, oh my god the nightmare! I always do it, eventually, but I wish just one person could feel how physically difficult it is to do those things.
I loathe depression. Lying there, knowing how many things you need to do, appointments to go to, mail to open, laundry to do, hell, eat! Just anything! Knowing how lazy you must seem to everybody around you. How do you explain the feeling? That feeling of agonizing heaviness that makes you feel like you cannot physically move. Depression is not just sadness, guilt, emptiness, feeling of failure, fear, anxiety and on and on. Those aspects of depression to me are the ones that I have become used to. I have my head wrapped around those symptoms as much as one can. It is hard to remember at the time, but you know that it is depression. The nightmare for me is the physical toll that it takes on me.
You see, when I suffer a depression that is contained mostly to the emotion symptoms, a few of which I described above, I can still manage to complete some daily tasks. I am just very sad, anxious, guilty, etc while I drag myself through to completion. It is the deep, all consuming depressions that hijack my mind and my body that leave me feeling the most helpless.
Have you ever had a dream where your mind wakes up but your body is still in sleep paralysis? Those terrifying nightmares where you can’t move, scream or call for help? That sort of how a severe depression feels to me. It is difficult to explain, but every motion, every movement feels more difficult and exhausting than if I had the flu. Most people find it difficult to get up and at ’em when their body is overtaken with a flu, right? Well, that is the best way that can describe how I feel when going through a severe depressive episode.
I can only write this now because I am feeling pretty good. I have come through and finally am in the care of a strong team of professionals. A great GP, Psychiatrist and counsellor that I have never had before. I am feeling happy today. Some days are better than others, but things seem to be looking up and I seem to feel better more often than not these days.
Now that my depression has been treated for some time, as difficult as it was, I can get up and go for a walk if I am feeling a little low, and it does make me feel better. Going for a walk and counting your blessings do not cure severe depression. Professional medical help to treat severe depression will eventually lead one to have the ability to get out and go for a walk.
If you are suffering a depression right now, my heart goes out to you. I understand that it is too hard to do a lot of things that many around you might think are simple tasks. I know that simple tasks are only simple to someone healthy, and that you are not ungrateful for the things in your life. You are ill and that is it. It is not your fault.
If you know someone who you believe may be suffering from depression and want to help, acceptance of where they are and education are a good first step.
Here are some links:
It is really late right now. I have been fighting really hard for a long time. Fighting to be positive, to grow through self improvement, meditation, healthy lifestyle, blah, blah, blah. I feel worn down right now. I should be in bed, I should have gone to the gym, why was I so tired to today? I thought I was feeling better lately. Ahhr!
I just don’t have the time nor am I in the mood for pretty words right now. The fact is I am tired of trying to feel good. Do you know what? Most of the time I feel like I am dragging my ass through quick sand and the moment I get a medication that gives me a bit of energy I am suddenly becoming hypomanic. We better stop them or you’ll become manic. Well to hell with it! I say bring it on! Bring on the hypomania, while we’re at it, ramp it up to full blown mania! Anything to get me out of this slump.
I see the laundry sitting there, I want to do it but it is as though there are a thousand elephants holding me down. It is so frustrating to almost have normal energy but to be not quite there. It’s down right painful!
I will admit that I have been feeling better than I did when I was in a severe depression, but god help me I do not feel the way other people appear to feel. Why is everything such a chore for me? Showering, errands, cooking, getting dressed, and on and on. I want to have daily energy! Some days are okay but I am still pushing myself through. That makes the days that are not okay a darn chore. I have just started Wellbutrin and I hope to high heaven it boosts my mood and energy because I can’t fake it anymore. Not that I have been doing a great job of faking it anyway. Shag it all!
And that, folks, is how I am feeling right now. Raw. I am so sick of it!
As a child, I was free from the feeling of impending age and the disappointment brought by the realization that life has happened for too long and I have fallen behind. Like all bright-eyed youth I believed that as I studied hard, went through the right motions, followed all the right rules, that life would somehow fall into place. I would simply step onto destiny’s trail and life would unfold before me. I always had a sense that I would recognize each milestone by the successes and failures, where I had come, what I had accomplished. I had a preconceived idea of what each milestone would bring, how it would feel, that I would know I was where I was meant to be. However, bright-eyed youth become wide-eyed adults. Wide, bloodshot eyes ripped ajar, the once lethargic gaze swiftly slapped away by the wet, cold, leather glove of time that had dragged them through life to reach each milestone without reminding them to stay awake for the ride. I am now of an age that my younger self would not recognize from her sense of time. I do not recognize this place. I still don’t know what I was supposed to do, and by now I should have been doing it for years. This is where I awoke. Jolted awake by one of life’s bumps, I nearly lost my grip. This is my wide-eyed moment. I find myself looking around and wondering why I am still waiting for everything to fall into place. The problem is, things are already in place, and I was never asleep. I was just looking in the wrong direction.
Life is where you are, life is now. It always has been. Destiny did not pave your trail, you did. Life did not drag you blindly along, you were looking backward, or forward, or anywhere but now. Looking to the past, you miss the present as it unfolds. Your past will pave your way. Looking to the future will distract you from your present, the good, the lessons, life. On you go, paving a trail fervently trying to reach that future expectation, missing the present. But the present is still here. Appreciate the past, live in the present and expect a great future. We are all paving our own trails. Every moment offers a choice, be present and make a conscious choice to fill it will gratitude, love, hope and happiness and watch your trail, charmed and alive, unfold before your eyes.
Since I last posted here, in a somewhat panicked head-swirl of project mania, I have begun the process of simplifying. I must say, I do feel the swelling has ceased and I am experiencing a slight sense of deflation, like a slow leak in a balloon. This process unfolded in phases.
Phase 1: My first move was to take a step back, or down, or whatever distancing direction you want to use. I first distanced myself from the entire process of thought and just watched the ocean for a while. I allowed the cluttered thoughts to pass here and there through my mind without stopping to dwell on any of them. I suppose it was a sort of meditation. The longer I rested this way the slower the cluttered thoughts came and soon there was no clutter. I got to the point that I could just think of nothing. And I don’t mean don’t think about anything, I mean actually think of nothing, there is a big difference. When your thoughts are focused on nothing, there is nothing bad, sad or happy; there is nothing. Your mind is at rest. That is where I tried to stay for a while, and I have actually been repeating this process daily. That first step was essential.
Phase 2: In phase 2, well it should have been simple, I shut down all but absolutely necessary technology. I mean, a quick email and calendar browse to make sure I didn’t miss anything that might cost me my job. This, like I said, should have been simple. Yeah right, I had no idea how much time I spend tinkering around on the internet, picking at this account, adding to that, focusing on nothing in a substantial way. That is, of course, the point of this whole process; it is this tinkering that is clouding my mind with a million ideas bouncing around inside my head with an outlet for none of them. So yes, phase 2 was to shut down for a few days. In reality, it was about 3 or 4 days. I did spend time each day reading and practising the process I discovered for myself in Phase 1. I can’t say enough about how life changing that meditation type thing I am doing has been.
Phase 3: Here is where I started to do some hands-on work. I started with all my emails. I wrote down all of the email addresses I could think of, this may not apply to many of you, but I used to make an address for many different types of accounts, a work version, personal, etc. In all I had about 9 emails. I had actually had them all forwarded to one account in an earlier attempt to get organized, but I actually found it more difficult. It was more difficult to tell which address the mail was directed to, then I would forget to make sure to send or reply from a particular address and often ended up sending something from a personal address, that was set as default, to a colleague.
At first I first decided which email addresses were obsolete, then deleted them. It felt good. I could feel space opening up in my head, for real. Then I separated them all. There are now no forwarded emails, no feeling out of control of my inbox and worrying about sending from the wrong address. A little more space up there! Finally, on my computer I went with Thunderbird email client to add each email account individually. Now all in one place, but I can access them separately. It is a relief I must say. For my phone, the new version of Gmail is wonderful. I am able to do the same thing. I have every email account lined up vertically on a slide out sidebar and can switch back and forth between them individually. Here is how to add multiple accounts to the new Gmail for Android. All the email addresses do not have to be Gmail either. I added accounts from yahoo.ca and Outlook.com as well. Honestly, this might seem like a minor life change but it has made me feel much more organized. In my next phase, I am going to do the same type of purge, but for all of the different platforms I am registered with. For example, I have two Pinterest accounts, 4 Tumblr blogs, I’ve dabbled in Notelr, there is wordpress floating around, I’ve been trying to find my “thing” and in the process have played around with a lot of different apps, platforms and software. It is now time to tackle, purge and tighten up the loose ends. I literally need to clean up my virtual space. Yikes!