Sometimes even an over-sharer can feel awkward about some topics and I’m about to tell you about one of them. But before I say anything else, I want to say that I know I’m not special or unique and that’s probably what drives me to bring this up. Because if I’m feeling alone, then someone else might be too and they might identify with this and then maybe.. we’re all a little less lonely?
I’ve been struggling. Weepy out of nowhere. Staring at my bed, hungry for sleep multiple times throughout the day. Lacking focus and walking the line of feeling hopeless and overwhelmed and lonely all at the same time. It’s not just the pandemic. There’s no boredom in my pandemic-life. It’s the overwhelming suffocation of being a caregiver to two humans 24/7 with no time to relax. No time to let down my guard and stop thinking. With the devil on my back reminding me that I’ve got some big decisions and timelines to work on. It’s not having a person to talk things through with. It’s not having a break. A break that includes a sleep at night without kids who wake up throughout the night.
But I remembered my own advice from a post a couple of weeks ago (See: Am I Depressed..) and remembered that, for me, falling back into a depression is a choice. And I remember that in the past, every time I’ve felt this way, as long as I push on and resist the pull to sleep, to slack, to become sedentary, there will be light on the other side and I’ll see that this was just a setback.
So every day I’ve set small goals for myself and I’ve talked it out with whoever would listen. I filled last week with virtual appointments with my doctor, my psychologist, some others who I rely on for extra support, and I made sure to check in with my oldest son, Jake everyday – to see his face on Facetime to make it real. It all helped.
But now the real truth. The awkward conversation.
You know what really helps me the most?
— Relying on my faith.
I can’t tell you what that really means. I’m not necessarily confused about it. I’ve just come to a place where I understand that my faith is made up a whole bunch of energy, of beliefs, of strength, of wisdom and MORE than what I can see or put into words. It’s truly that higher power we speak about in religious terms. Laura’s blog post speaks to it far better than I ever could HERE.
For me, faith is whatever fills that little bottomless hole in my chest, at the bottom of my throat where my voice catches before a good cry. The flash of red from a cardinal in the cedars when everything around it seems so dreary and miserable. The first sign of an unfurling bud on a tree branch in the spring. It’s the feeling I would get when I’m standing on a mountain in Banff, that feeling of being so alone in such a massive expanse of sky and rock and forest, but knowing I wasn’t alone at all. It’s the sweet spot at dusk when the pinkish-orange light bathes the earth and it feels so still and perfect. It’s what music does to me, when it swells and wraps its arms around me, bringing me to tears. It’s hearing a truth spoken in words so succinctly that I need to write it down immediately; when someone has captured an elusive moment with words that speak to my soul. It’s when I’m in the middle of a mundane task and the image of my Nanna’s hands flashes in my mind, seeing them spoon pudding from a Del Monte tin can, and I know she’s with me. It’s Christmas Eves at my church at the late night service, when we each hold a candle in the dark and exit the sanctuary singing Silent Night, when we are in community with each other.
I know that I am always going to be okay. I know that I am being supported and held by other energies. When I am in the eye of a hurricane, feeling as stuck as if my feet were in solid cement – even then, I know this is all temporary.
I have put real work this past year into my own spiritual study. Looking inward has elevated me to a place I’ve never been before. I have such a strong sense of where I’m headed – I don’t mean I know how I’ll pay my bills or, the other extreme, that I know where I’ll be in the afterlife. I mean that I know I’m on a journey that has already plucked the weeds from my garden. I’m not so caught up in pettiness, judgement or toxicity as I once was a part of. I know who my people are. I know what I’m made of and what gifts I have to share. I know my purpose is more than taking care of everyone else, – I know that I am meant to help others in a meaningful way that is aligned with my values.
I’m one of those people who, when I get together with girlfriends and we get chatting, we somehow get talking about whether or not we are believers of all things psychic and spiritual. Don’t ask me to define what I mean by psychic and spiritual because I don’t have a finite answer for you. But it’s something between the serendipitous coincidences and believing we can connect with people who have passed on and that we receive signs that there is “more” than what our eyes can physically see.
The conversations usually start off as silly. I joke all the time that I truly have the “third eye” – things happen to me like when I mention someone’s name after years of not speaking it aloud, the phone rings and their voice is on the other end (and other such ‘coincidences’.) We share stories of our experiences with visiting mediums and clairvoyants, then the conversations get more serious when someone shares their very personal experience and grief as they talk about a connection with a loved one who has passed on. I know many of us ‘believers’ have countless stories to support our belief, and there is an element of fun to this too and I can see why a skeptic might think it’s a crock of sh*t, based on some of the silliness that comes from our shared stories.
But this belief in all things is not separate from the faith I find in Church. They go together. They work together. Because I am open to it all, I find signs and symbols and messages all the time and it not only brings me comfort, but it challenges me. It keeps me curious and introspective and at 46, I’m still growing and learning because of it. They all work for me because I put the work in as well.
This week has had me feeling so dark and alone and before I went to bed last night, I spent some time meditating. That meditation could be called prayer. Working with my mala, I started with some affirmations – repeating phrases to myself over and over, so many times that they were no longer just words, until my bones believed them to be true. “This is temporary”. “Be open to the messages, the next window will open for you”. “You are strong”.
Then I switched to the beautiful Hawaiian Ho’oponopono prayer:
Please forgive me,
I Love You”
Over and over again.
I felt my shoulders relax and with my eyes closed, I imagined a single light from a candle and I focused on it and I prayed. I gave thanks. I prayed for help and guidance and asked if tomorrow I could start fresh with a cleaner energy so that I could manage whatever is next on my own. I also asked for the wisdom to read the signs so I wouldn’t miss opportunities to move forward and out of this stuck place. I fell asleep with a clear mind.
This morning I woke up to see on my Fitbit that my recorded sleep had the best reading it has had this entire year – a score of 92/100. I felt lighter. I had energy that has been elusive to me for the past few weeks. In the kitchen, I cranked up the speaker to listen to music while I made breakfast for the boys and felt myself dancing. I felt joy. And while I performed the simple task of spreading peanut butter on a bagel, my thoughts turned to my loved ones who have passed – why they popped into mind, I don’t know, it’s not unusual. It made me smile to think about them. Then a song came on the radio that is a current favourite that brings me to that place (Warning: it’s country. Your loss if you’re not interested.) Where I Find God – Larry Fleet:
Standing at the counter, swaying, I had chills go through my whole body and then the tears came. I cried like a fool all by myself, smiling. It felt like a sign. I know it was a sign.
I’ll leave you with another song that fills that place in my chest every single time I hear it. Into the Mystic – Van Morrison
I’m trying my best to pay it forward by dealing hope and sharing stories & tips on caregiving and how to survive hard things. I blog a lot about single parenting my adult twin sons who both have autism, and the challenges we face in surviving the everyday challenges and planning for a future full of unknowns.