Find What Heals

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.

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7 thoughts on “Find What Heals

  1. We seek community most often with others and for some of us our animals but unfortunately most don’t seek community with nature anymore. I believe we can all benefit from enjoying some time alone outdoors just listening to the original symphony. It clears the mind and feeds the soul:)

    1. I think you’re absolutely right. I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me before, but I felt this pull to spend a weekend in the mountains. Everything was booked since it only dawned on me last minute and it was Easter weekend, but I got a call Friday afternoon about a cancellation and just like that I was in the car. I’m so grateful, I needed it. There’s nothing like it.

  2. This is the second entry of yours I have read (the first was about narcissism and self-worth). I enjoy your style of writing and humility.You are in fact, very blessed. Try to hold onto perspective and internalise the gratitude you speak of. Life for those with impaired function is riddled with despair. As a recovered anorexic, I truly appreciate this and understand exactly where maladaptive management of low self-worth leads. Hence, it matters little why you invest yourself in this self-care initiative i.e. whether or not healing others heals yourself in the end. The point is that all these strategies help manage your depression and thus keep you functional. Sadly, there is no cure for mental illness. It settles and becomes inflamed in an almost cyclic fashion, but never heals (though it leaves scars on one’s heart). You are incredibly lucky to possess the cognitive capacity to be so self-aware. This is one of the only weapons against mental illness. Exercised daily, the mind becomes your own again and self-beliefs can be challenged (though unfortunately, not recoded). Losing oneself to mental illness is incredibly tragic. As a survivor, the hurt has become part of who I am and recovery very much involves accepting that and moving forth despite it. I too found solace in nature, climbing Mt Warning and kayaking at Currumbin. Alone but in the good company of myself. I noticed how admiring nature, comes naturally. I realised I wanted to admire myself, naturally. I too have learnt that I crave admiration from others and require it to feel loved. A man admired me “with every bone in his body” and even this power could not save me from my illness nor us from our demise. I yearn for him still because I have not mastered the art of admiring myself. However, I have stumbled upon the importance of praising yourself not for what others can perceive but for only what you observe within yourself. This is the first step to having an authentic relationship with youself and an avenue for resolving the fragile sense of importance that spurs anxiety and cripples inner happiness.

    1. Hi, Kara. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience. I don’t believe life is all rainbows and butterflies for anyone all the time and I think there’s as much power (if not more) in sharing the downs as there is for the ups. As you mention, self-awareness can be powerful in navigating the human experience, but it’s somewhat of a double-edged sword. Yes, it certainly fosters insight into patterns so that hopefully we can intervene to live happier, healthier more meaningful lives, but sometimes I think we “think ourselves” into oblivion. There are moments when I can see the allure of the “ignorance is bliss” mentality as well. It’s all a balance. Self-love and compassion is so very important every step of the way and I wish it endlessly for you!

  3. I was strolling through websites with my morning coffee and stumbled upon yours ! read a couple of articles and have really started to feel peace ! Won’t say much because I am really new to rediscovering myself but could not pass by without praising you for the commendable articles you have written ! Somewhere , sometime , somehow it is definitely putting a smile on someone’s face !

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