Saturday, September 7, 2013

Being happy in the dark

This week my rabbi asked how I was doing, "you don't seem like you're okay," she said. "It's okay not to be."

I had to think about it for a few hours before I was able to really tell her what was going on. The truth of the matter is that I am not okay. Life has dealt hit after hit this past year, and being okay in the face of all that would make me some kind of unfeeling monster. I will eventually be okay, but I am not now and I'm not ashamed of that at all. My heart and soul are raw and blistered from a kind of hell that not everyone gets to visit*, and I've barely begun to heal.

Yet, I am happy. Not content. Not ecstatic and overcome with joy. Not experiencing constant bliss. But I am happy. I look around and see the wonderful people who are in my life because of the work that I have done to better myself; I hold those whose hearts are close to my own; and thru desperate sadness and pain from the sheer unfairness of life I can find this weird happiness that comes from knowing I am not alone in this darkness.

Very few people understand what I'm going thru, or what I've been thru already. Even those who grasp its magnitude are viewing my struggles thru their own, so it's not always easy to connect. But those people hold their pain and grief out as one holds out one's arms for a hug, and we connect in the darkness, smiling because we have each other.

Some of my loved ones are not in the darkness, but understand how it overwhelms and envelops you. They reach out their light, illuminate me for a while, and while that doesn't make anything the way it ought to be, the patience and kindness helps me.

But most of the people around me have no idea. Many have been in dark places, but this is not a darkness caused by the lights going out in your soul because your brain forgot to pay the electric bill. I'm not depressed. The sun went out. I won't be able to regulate serotonin to turn the lights back on**, the light will return when it returns and I don't know when that will be. Grief is not like depression. Grief is not like any other sadness you've ever felt and there is nothing you can do but accept its presence and realize that the entire purpose of Grief is to help you.

And so while I am not okay, while nothing is okay (and in some ways never will be again), I am not harmed. I enjoy the embraces of my friends, the gentle caresses of my lovers, the feel of my dog's fur; I take in all of the experiences not as someone whose senses have been dulled by a chemical imbalance, but as someone falling in the shadow of an eclipse. It is beautiful, this pain that I am feeling. Beautiful and terrifying, but I am safe, loved, and happy.

I talk about my feelings a lot right now. I post about them because I'm not fighting them. I'm just letting them wash over me because I know that these emotions, these "stages of grief" are there to heal me. If the hell of the past year has burned me, my grief is cooling water infused with the nutrients needed to heal those wounds. There will be scars and adhesions, and I may be very uneven for a while longer than some think necessary but this process will take as long as it takes and I've decided not to allow it to scab and definitely not to pick at it if it does.

You may not understand the sadness in my eyes. I hope you never have to. But the smile on my face remains genuine, and the love of my companions and protectors is felt, held, and honored.

*And to my Evangelical Christian friends, I really don't think Jesus could have saved me from it. If you had been thru what I've been thru in the last year, you'd know that the threat of "Hell" doesn't scare me. And please don't try to argue the point. You actually don't know what you're talking about.
**Do please note that my explaining how grief and depression are different does not mean that one or the other is more valid. If you are experiencing depression, please please please talk to someone about it. You are valuable, and maybe your brain needs a little help so you can remember that.

1 comment:

Mark said...

I agree with a lot of this.
I am also reminded of one of my favorite Ween songs.
I think it is the words:
"Lets begin with the past in front and all the things that you really don't care about now
You'd be exactly where I'm at"

It is not the same. It is never the same. I guess, I want to say is: I have lived in the dark. You are making your way better than I did.

I am here if you wish.