The other day a friend said to me out of the blue, “Jessica, are you happy?” He said it like he meant it–and not in the unspoken I’ll-promise-to-be-interested-in-how-you-are-as-long-as-you-promise-to-keep-everything-but-“good”-to-yourself kind of way.
I felt his sincerity and without a moment’s hesitation I answered, “Today? Not a drop.”
And it’s true.
Today I don’t have any heartwarming whole food recipes or positive affirmations or advice on wholehearted living. All I have is the truth and today it’s not shiny or pretty.
I am surrounded by so much beauty and generosity and goodness and somehow I feel nothing. I’m moving through the motions of my life on auto-pilot wondering what’s the point behind any of it. The path I’ve chosen leaves little room for spontaneity and lately I’ve felt restless. Hollow. Drained. Isolated. Life feels so forced and it’s exhausting. And then I realize how ungrateful I’m being–How can I have so much and not feel full? So then the self-hatred builds and builds, chipping away at my heart with each blow until there’s nothing left. I am empty. That’s the thing about experiencing one emotion when you feel like you should be having another–it breeds guilt. Which is the cherry on top of a shit sunday for someone struggling with depression.
I read something by Ralph Waldo Emerson the other day in which he says,”It is one of the beautiful compensations in this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” We often try to give to others what we’ve not been able to give to ourselves, and sometimes end up finding what we need in the process. I weave inspiration and unconditional love into the yoga classes I teach, pour my heart into learning the art of medicine, write words that are meaningful and true, but really the writing and the medicine and the yoga are just vessels for healing. I’m self-aware enough to know that on some subconscious level the person I’m trying to heal is really myself, and if I can’t help myself then maybe I can at least help someone else.
But this weekend I went to the mountains and drank peppermint tea and read books I didn’t have to and meditated under a tree that dropped petals onto my shoulders. I sat by a fire breathing in the thick smell of smoke and old wood. I walked as far as my legs would carry me, I sat in silence and I bathed in the sun. I laid in the grass and cried so long with my face pushed into the earth that I forgot which way was up. And somehow in this place I’ve never been miles away from any other human being, I feel less alone. Maybe the air is just fresher here, but I feel like I’m re-learning how to breathe.
Find what heals you and do it now.
Don’t wait until you’re suffocating to gulp down fresh air. Self-care doesn’t need to be earned, it’s your birthright. It’s all of ours.
Nothing is more important.
And yes, I’m saying this because I’m working on believing it too.