When I ponder where I’ve been, how jagged and rough the road of life I have travelled; that I am now enjoying happily married life with the sweetest partner, having two healthy grown children, and enjoying the freedom to participate in hobbies such as gardening and writing that delight my heart ~ I am astonished.
With all that I am blessed with today, I feel it is my responsibility to reach out to anyone who is anywhere close to enduring the terribly rough patches as I did, and to say to you: Yes, it really does get better.
I know that when we’re IN it, words of support from others fall flat, no matter how well intended. We feel utterly alone. That is the most tragic part of ‘the blues’ – feeling like it will never end. Like others are happy but we never will be. This feeling of being misunderstood, totally alone, and ‘this is the way it will be forever’ is actually common to those who suffer blues. How ironic.
All irony aside, I believe we can get through our blues, or melancholy, much more easily by being gentle with ourselves. Do not allow any inner ‘cassette tapes’ or voices of teachers or anyone to tell you to ‘pull yourself up by your boot-straps’ and just get on with it. While I believe there is some truth in the expression ‘fake it til you make it’ – it does not ring true if the blues we are going through are deep. Sure, if we’re having a crappy day, maybe woke up a bit moody, then by all means when asked ‘How are you?’ it’s great to reply with the biggest smile you can muster, ‘I’m great. Awesome! Thanks for asking. How are you?’ This is the meaning of ‘fake it til you make it’. Fake a good mood and before long, you’re feeling better. It’s been proven.
However I have experienced very dark times, and I know this ‘fake it’ adage does not apply when the darkness is weighing heavy on our heart. Philosopher and psychotherapist Thomas Moore writes in Care of the Soul: “The soul presents itself in a variety of colors, including all the shades of gray, blue, and black. To care for the soul, we must observe the full range of all its colorings, and resist the temptation to approve only of white, red, and orange – the brilliant colors. The “bright” idea of colorizing old black and white movies is consistent with our culture’s general rejection of the dark and the gray. In a society that is defended against the tragic sense of life, depression will appear as an enemy, an unredeemable malady; yet in such a society, devoted to light, depression, in compensation, will be unusually strong.”
In Renaissance gardens it was common to include a private bower designed specifically for a person in melancholy to withdraw and feel their depression without fear of being disturbed. What an amazingly refreshing concept – to just allow, and provide the emotional space for, feeling downhearted. No forcing out of, no making wrong. Deep melancholy lingers when suppressed. In giving ourselves permission to be blue we can actually come out of it to the other side more easily and quickly. Thomas Moore goes on to say, “Because depression is one of the faces of the soul, acknowledging it and bringing it into our relationships fosters intimacy. If we deny or cover up anything that is at home in the soul, then we cannot be fully present to others. Hiding the dark places results in a loss of soul; speaking for them and from them offers a way toward genuine community and intimacy.”
A quote that helps me in times of sadness is, ‘God sometimes lays us flat on our back, that we may look skyward.’ Our hardships are a prescription written from On High explicitly for our highest healing and development. I know the broken road brought me to the right time and perfect place. All of us travel the broken road to end up just where we are meant to be. It is all worth it. It does get better.
View Care of the Soul, by Thomas Moore, at Amazon.com by clicking here.
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