The hardest part about depression is that you feel everything. every breath, every move, every thought…it is almost as if you are being controlled by another force, much stronger than you. You think about death, and plan the end. But even that feels like too much work. You think about life, and positive thinking, and it all feels without purpose. You think about reaching out to a friend, but the thought of rejection feels unbearable. You cry, thinking the tears might wash away some of the sadness, but it only makes you feel worse. So you cry some more, this time with more intention, for now you feel hopeless. You feel in-between. Neither dead or alive. Not able to let go of the past, or think about the future. Living in the moment, but the moment is filled with despair. You breath into it, trying to be mindful of each sensation, but the breath barely comes, gets lost somewhere between the inhale from your belly to the exhale from your mouth, and chokes you. Like the hand of the stranger whom you used to love, whom you thought shared your soul, strangling you, silencing your voice. The breath feels like your enemy, even though it is supposed to give you life.
..an earthquake of the soul. The ultimate goal of humanity, what binds together the fabric of our existence. Love is an invitation to experience the numinous…the deep soul knowing…a direct experience of god.
Love is provocative, a paradox evoking all of our shadows. The poet Rilke, reminds us that love is a high achievement:
“For one human to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks…the work for which all other work is but a preparation.”
Yet for love to heal, it must first shatter us. The insanity of love, that gut-wrenching desire and need for another’s glance, touch, and even smile; that is the fall into chaos where dissolution of plans, agendas, and order happens. That is the place where we give in to eros, to recover our wholeness.
I am not talking about the illusion of romantic love. This isn’t about the greatest hollywood love story, that which remains as the unattainable american dream to keep us in utter emptiness. What I am referring to is the real, raw, messy love which forces expansion, discomfort, even anxiety, and takes us to the brink of insanity, threatening to destroy our identities, moral and religious values.
Love destroys illusions so that we reunite with our other half in recovery of the sacred. It is the ultimate religion, spiritual practice, transformative healing. To truly love another, without judgment, expectation, and agenda is the ultimate experience of the divine.
Yet this love does not always arise out of consciousness, but often through the dark, murky corners of our shadows. I believe it is when we are able to face that within ourselves which is judged to be ugly, perverse, and crazy, can we find that place of deep compassion and resonance with pure love. As Marie-Louis von Franz writes, “whoever cannot surrender to this experience has never lived; whoever founders in it has understood nothing.”
This is the love I am in search of today. That which will shatter my illusions, and peel away the false layers of my persona. That which will take me beyond life, death and rebirth. That which will bring me back home.
As psychology has celebrated the Decade of Behavior, it is time for a psychological celebration of the Year of the Whole Person. This paradigm shift would take the form of a new holistic perspective on psychology that brought behavior, cognition, and consciousness together in a dialectical relationship. A psychology of the whole person integrates body, mind, and psyche, and embraces a diversity of techniques and approaches to include the imaginal realm.
Clinicians appear to view the body in three distinct ways: as independent of the mind (physical body), integrated with the mind (emotional body), and as a site for symbolic representations of subtle (energetic) body. In Western culture, the body is seen as something to be controlled by the mind. Expanding the definition of body from purely somatic, to include the psychological and emotional in clinical psychology is the wave of the future. Movement from a mind-body dualism, a split reinforced by the field of mental health, toward an integrative approach in healthcare is inevitable. It is time for psychology to bring its unique contribution to healing and consciousness. Read the rest of this entry »
Time magazine calls it “the spreading stain”. Coast guards refer to the Gulf oil spill as the “insidious enemy”. Some see it as a regulatory failure on the part of the American government. I see it as a reality of our culture. After many years of denial, our collective inability to sit with our own darkness has become the consuming rage, poisoning wildlife and destroying livelihoods. Our dependence on consumerism, individualism, arrogance, greed, and control was bound to take us to this oil-soaked moment. We have become disembodied, and disconnected from our innate state of oneness with the universe. We have resisted every attempt at an interdependent way of living in resonance with the earth. We have lost our way, and are now being called to give up the illusion of control, and surrender into the unknown. This massive spill is Gaia’s bleeding wound, unable to be contained, for every attempt at clean-up is responded to by further leaking into the collective. Read the rest of this entry »
I have experienced a lifetime of inner duality, a split between my own mind and body; an ego-centric attitude towards life, mediated by a self in need of creative expression, a thinking function dominating an embodied sensibility. The loneliness, gut wrenching need for intimate connection, yet a fear of closeness and being truly seen. All there, in a play of hide and seek without a serious awareness of the game. All there, to keep me in a constant state of disconnect and isolation.
I have endured. I have conformed. I have rebelled. I have lost some, and won others. I have suffered, no more or less than another, yet I’ve always gone back for more. I have been driven and stagnant, courageous and fearful, honest and inauthentic, the good girl next door and the heartless bitch. I have loved and hated, manipulated and been used, enraged and compassionate. I have been inspiring and destructive. I have been broken, and put together a thousand times, to where the cracks have formed a beautiful mosaic.
I started this blog over a year ago with the intention of bringing awareness to depth psychology, and making it more accessible for those unfamiliar with the field. In all the articles, I’ve attempted to bring a deeper understanding to current trends, psychological symptoms, and human suffering. Over the past 6 months, I haven’t been as diligent in my posts. Each time I’ve sat down at the computer with the intent to write, I’ve been blocked.
I’ve experienced this resistance in all of my writing assignments. My doctoral papers have gone incomplete, the dissertation research, at a halt. This resistance, the unwillingness inside of me is calling for recognition. The symptom is asking for a re-direction, a re-evaluation of my path.
So I began to listen…to hear the words I’ve refused to acknowledge. To allow the answers to penetrate me in the most intimate way. What is the “block” telling me? And whose words are being spoken? What am I afraid of?
The answers have not come forward yet. But it does not matter, for clarity often comes in just asking the questions. The willingness to be with having no answers is where healing occurs. The capacity to surrender to “what is” often leads to transformation.
So going forward I will write what is present, real, and felt in my heart. Coming to the culmination of my PhD program, I am letting go of the need for quotes and references to the “experts” in the field. I am stepping into who “I” am, showing up with my heart, mind, body and soul. This blog will be a revelation of my personal transformation. The vessel for my alchemy. My Red Book.
I hope that the writings, reflecting the journey of a wounded healer, touch those places in your heart that need healing. I hope that through my suffering you will find meaning in your own.
As I sit at my desk, looking out the window on this foggy Sunday morning in my home, I realize the sense of disconnect from all that surrounds me. I no longer feel that I belong in this space. That which I have struggled to hold on to feels insignificant. I’ve let go of so much over the last few years, and the process of cleansing continues.
I look around my empty house, facing the knowledge that I am no longer who I thought to be. The rooms feel cold and big, they have lost the warmth of love once present. The back yard, situated overlooking the creek and greenbelt, no longer serves as my sanctuary. My dogs, the companions of our family’s journey, look at me with longing, for they now represent burden, responsibility, that which I no longer desire to represent my self-worth.
The laughter has been replaced by silence. It is all silent……..
Transitions can be difficult, especially when we are being asked to release “that” which no longer serves our highest good. Whether it be a job, a relationship, unworn and outdated clothes in the closet, or old expectations of a planned life , the extra baggage we often carry around, gets heavier with time. Every so often, an opportunity arises for a deep cleansing, of the dusty corners of our homes, and the dark crevices of our psyches. Through challenges that are presented, either in forms of people or circumstances, we are given a flashlight, to illuminate the shadows, look beyond the fear and repulsion, and learn to accept and eventually love the most abhorrent parts of ourselves.
Letting go can be liberating. Often the more difficult and uphill one’s path may be, the richer the experience and results. Yet those moments that require a firm belief in one’s truth, authenticity and call for action, can also be extremely vulnerable and lonely. Just like an infant who learns separation and existence outside of the mother-baby bond, we must also find solace in our wholeness, while detaching from “that” which no longer serves our developmental needs. Winnicott introduced the term ‘transitional object’ in reference to something external that replaced the mother-child bond for the infant, such as a security blanket, teddy bear or a doll. In a later stage of development, that object is no longer necessary, for the child has internalized its function, and can self-soothe during times of distress.
During times of transitions, from one path to another, we may need our version of a transitional object to soothe anxiety and distress. Perhaps we find solace in a friend, a partner, or a counselor. A symbol, an image, or a favorite quote can also serve as a reminder of our wholeness. What we at times may call a band-aid, crutch, or a temporary fix, could very well represent “that” which needs to be released, integrated or even loved within ourselves.
Special Note: It has been six months since I posted a blog post, and I thank Rashin for keeping our blog up to date. Rashin and I have decided to continue writing, but on our own sites from here on out. She’ll be writing here at this site, and I’ll be writing at www.brendamurrow.com. We’re pleased with the success of this blog. It has launched us each into our new directions. We will each continue to write about depth psychology, as we further develop our own unique styles. I would like to thank all of the readers we have had on this blog, your support has been felt and I appreciate your encouragement very much! And I’ll just be a stone’s throw away, so come visit my site as well!
To me, it always seems like there are times when we want change, and times when we don’t, and yet often those two timeframescoincide more than we think. As a child I used to get terribly frustrated with the local news anchors who would complain to the weatherman, “Larry, when is it going to warm up for spring?” And it seemed like not two weeks later those same anchors would say, “Larry, it’s too hot! When is it going to cool down?” The weather is just one thing that isn’t predictable, and I suppose that is where sayings arise such as, “The only sure things in life are death and taxes.” But, there must be more than death and taxes, mustn’t there? As humans, we are fascinated with the loss and gain of things. All the way back to Greece there were plays and now we have movies of course, mostly concerned with the loss and gain of love, fortune, life, health, soul- you name it, you can find an audience who is interested in knowing whether it is lost or gained. And, the reason we are so curious is because the struggle is something we all face, and so the watching of the saga unfold time and time again somehow doesn’t get old.
The sun never says to the earth, “You owe me.”
Look what happens with a Love like that!
—It lights the whole Sky. (Hafez)
In the Persian culture, everything is encompassed by love, or eshgh, deriving from the Arabic ishq. Icons such as Rumi and Hafez represent the ever-present passion in the history and language of the culture. Yet there is no simple three word phrase that can be spoken like “I love you”. Man aashegh-e toh hastam is almost there, meaning I am in love with you, yet it borrows from Arabic, is too formal and rarely used. Dooset-Daram is more often spoken, communicating a liking of anything from cake to your lover.
I have to state the disclaimer that I’ve grown up in the US and spent all of my adult life speaking and thinking in English. So perhaps I’m missing something. But in the chance that I’m right, I have to wonder why one of the richest, most complicated languages does not have a simple expression of love?