I was feeling horrible for most of the summer. Lots of pity partying, anxiety, and endless negative thoughts--if you are human you have probably been there. If you have lived with depression and fought overwhelming, crippling periods of darkness, then you can definitely relate. In life, I kept thinking that eventually I would arrive, that at some point through hard work and perserverence I would get to this place where success would happen because I was hard-working and because I deserved it for all my hard work and struggle and suffering and because I was a survivor, dammit. (Such a good little martyr I played).
Because I was a good person, and I loved a lot and I gave a lot and I cared a lot. Maybe those things I knew to be true about myself seemed like the ticket to success would come to me, organically, fall in my lap.
So this summer for whatever reasons, be they situational or delusional or chemical, after many months of treading, my head went under for a while. What seemed like a very long while, actually. I thought I might fall apart completely, maybe lose my home, maybe end up in the hospital, maybe fail my children.
I hung out under water for a minute there--and this was dark, murky, Ohio lake water--not some perfect, clear, 20-foot visibility, white sand Hawaii water.
A year ago I had some big huge revelations, and as exciting as they were and still are--and the revelations keep coming--it seemed that because I had these seemingly monumental realizations about my life, I would soon be arriving somewhere.
To my destination.
To my purpose.
I was supposed to be getting there soon!
Instead I felt like I was sinking, drowning, failing at life.
So I gave up for a minute. Took a look under water and got some silt in my eyes.
I said Fuck it.
It felt like forever, living in the “fuck it” moments.
Then I panicked.
Then survival instincts kicked in and I started flailing and I sent out an S.O.S. to my family and asked for help. Which I rarely do, if ever. Because I am like a one woman island who seems to think she has to stay an island. Alone. Stranded. Forever.
Every good lifeguard knows that when a person who thinks they are drowning is flailing, they can be dangerous to try to save. You gotta go in with a clear head and not get taken down with them.
It’s the silent ones who are actually drowning, and it happens oh, so quickly and oh, so quietly..
Like Robin Williams. Like so many countless others who never showed a sign of any kind that they couldn’t swim and slipped away unnoticed into the abyss.
Even though I thought I might drown, my family didn’t think so. They gave me a hand, pulled me to the surface and said--keep treading. Maybe they remembered I had been through worse, or maybe they simply knew the strength in me that I couldn’t.
So I don’t get to stop? I don’t get a free pass, or at least a rotting log to lean on?
And my friends and family said “I love you”, and some made me dinner, and many sent me gifts, or sat next to me brainstorming, to get me through to regain my own sense of strength.
Because what I most needed was to remember my own strength.
So I begrudgingly kept going, until I wasn’t panicking anymore, and I accidentally swallowed a big, leggy, water spider.
And then my awesome friend said that transformation is a journey, not a destination.
And my head exploded.
There is no arriving.
I get to let myself off the hook?!
So, there is only this huge body of water, and there are mucky parts and clear parts and parts where you swim with dolphins and parts where you swim with sharks and parts where you get stuck in the swamp tangled in long weeds?
There is no destination?
This one revelation was just the lifejacket I needed.
To give me enough buoyancy that treading water didn’t seem so hard anymore.
To give me enough hope that, maybe soon, I will start to swim again.