Sadness at Lake Champlain

Jenn’s words today (as they have other days) have me nodding and blinking back tears. Oh, Jenn. Yes. I know. First of all, I am not tired of your musings, nor do I suspect I ever will be. Second of all, I can relate to the sense of feeling pressure to be over it already, to get through this, to get out of my own head. Pressure to just stop fretting so. To stop being so sensitive, so sad, so stormy. And I imagine you know the answer to all of that pressure that I feel like screaming: You have no idea how much I wish I could!

This is as good as any summary I could write of where I am right now:

I parent… I owe. I miss. I yearn. I cry. I try. I fail. I try again…I’m not out to get anyone. I don’t think I’m special, or different, or that my sadness is worth more than yours.

I would never presume, Jenn, to say I know where you are. Of course I don’t and I could not. I do know, however, the bleakness of true chemical depression. For me that was an experience that changed my life, making me far more empathetic and less judgmental of people who struggle with mental illness of all kinds. It was a kind of darkness of the mind that I hope never to visit again. It was a time when I felt true despair of a kind I have only touched on since. It was a scary episode, and it left me with both a deep respect for others who struggle with psychological demons and a profound fear of returning there myself.

Where I am now – I think, I desperately hope – is different. This is a more common oscillation of attitude, though this particular valley has been long and deep. I do feel lucky in that I know, or I think I know, that my clouds will lift. I have no choice but to trust these rhythms of the mind, this gentle sine curve of mood that takes me through periods both blindingly sunny and disconcertingly dark.

It strikes me as an apt metaphor that while I refuse to go on roller coasters in the real world, I am in a very real way riding one inside my head on a regular basis. I wish I had more control over my thoughts and reactions. This is the inexorable pull of Buddhism and meditation to me: the dream of letting go of my monkey mind. Oh how appealing is this concept and, thus far in my life, how absolutely beyond my reach.

I sit here, listening to Lake Champlain lap up against the rocks below my cottage, watching the mist shift in the dark trees across the even darker water. My mind and my heart are both empty and full at the same time. I feel half asleep and agonizingly aware. My words come slowly, haltingly, and I doubt each one. I tell myself that these periods of sadness are, in retrospect, fertile times of growth and learning. I know this is true, but that doesn’t make me enjoy the passage any more.

Jenn, the reason you words mean so much is that it is indescribably helpful – maybe more helpful than anything else, actually – to know I am not alone in this journey. I think what we all want most of all is to be seen – and embraced – for who we authentically are. Reading words that ring so true is, for me, one way (the only way?) to feel felt and acknowledged. Thank you, Jenn. Consider my feet up on your coffee table. And thanks for letting me join you.

1 thought on “Sadness at Lake Champlain”

Comments are closed.