By 8am on Sunday morning I’m curled into a corner between the cabinet and the wall. Depression is a real mother-fucker that way. I woke to it already hovering over me. A thickness in the air. A pressure. A density.
I got up and walked the dog. Maybe I could shake it off. It followed me out the door.
I meditated and journaled, thinking maybe it would lose interest. It was only waiting for me to get settled. Then it pressed in with all its weight.
My demons are not only relentless, they’re patient.
I haven’t even made tea, much less spilt milk to cry over, and yet, there is a heartbreak over what seems like nothing. Nothing tangible. Nothing I can point a finger to, nothing that I can truly see. No. One. Thing. It’s pain without reason. Sadness without cause. Unsolicited. Unprovoked. A tangle of hurt and confusion. Antagonisms bleating out and blurred. It’s not that it’s really nothing. It’s that it’s too many things to name.
I suppose that’s the problem with the spilled milk expression; it makes a diminutive out of something larger. As if the spill is the only tragedy. The milk the only loss. As if the one event is the only real trauma. As if that was all it is. In truth, it’s a thousand tiny matches spilling out and catching fire. Sparks in rapid succession that turn everything to tinder. Amber and orange at the edge of dry grass and leaves. Beacons lit to grief. Sulfur and carbon dioxide taking up space where oxygen should be, until there’s no room left to breathe.
“What I’ve come to realize”, Moira McTier says, “is that the milk isn’t the real issue”. It’s simply the last in a long series. The chaff that finally cracks the camel’s spine. The tragic scene at the end of Act III. It’s a culmination. It’s a combination. And, even though its all over and done with, even though there’s nothing you can do, you’re still left with the mess. It still exists. Sometimes the aftermath is just as tragic. In fact, sometimes the cleanup is the worst thing.
In the mess of a moment it’s hard to know where to start. When it’s not even one mess, but the mess of every morning, of every day, of every year that lead to this one. Piling up. Tumbling down. Falling over. Scattered across the floor. Every misstep and fuck-up. Every duct-taped piece of shanty scaffolding meant to hold it all back, finally giving up and caving in.
It’s the dreams that never happened. It’s the failed marriage. The divorce that took almost everything. The student debt of two degrees. The procession of one dead-end job beginning and ending after another in an inescapable cycle of striving and futility. It’s making a mistake. Making a lot of them. Making a bad decision, and then making more. It’s paying the cost, recuperating the expense, and still finding a deficit.
Thich Nhat Hanh says that “only by facing our suffering can we find the way out, the path to well-being.” But, what does it mean to face your suffering, especially when its all you can see? I listen to it whisper and plead. I feel its pacing hunger even while I sleep. It’s nearly ceaseless and I’m always aware. Every way is blocked. There’s no path that leads out from me.
Perhaps, like most things, its starts with acceptance. Pablo d’ Ors says that “What makes us suffer is our resistance to reality. He says that “We suffer only because we think that things should be other than they are”. But, how do you begin to accept the unacceptable? Maybe it happens in the shift from ‘should’ to ‘can’. Whether or not they should be different, things can always change.
When reality is unacceptable, when acceptance seems impossible, begin with the acceptance that reality is something in flux. That it is something always changing. Something always changeable. That it can, and will, be other than it is. It twists and turns. Dips and curves. Alters and sways. “This too shall pass” is the only absolute. The only stable thing.
“You need…to accept the unknowability of the future,” Matt Haig says, “that there are versions of that future that could be better than the current one. Hope, in it’s simplest form, is the acceptance of possibility.”
There are mornings that won’t feel messy. Days that won’t start with a weight. Moments when the pressure dissipates. When the density dissolves. When a spill doesn’t end in tears. Fires can be put out. Smoke lingers, but then it clears. Depression may be a patient mother-fucker, but it isn’t immune to change.
Thanks so much for reading, it means the world to me! The blog and newsletter are free and I plan to keep them that way. If you’d like to support it, please consider Buying me a Coffee. A little bit goes a long way. Thanks again!
Pingback: Plasticity... - Duane Toops