My reader will, I hope, forgive me for what are to be my ramblings. Or, put another way, for an entry in which I am simply trying to make sense of my experience rather than describing an experience that has already been made sense of. It is, admittedly, out of a sort of desperation that I write this–a desperate need to understand the hole in which I find myself.
I was on my customary walk this morning when I noticed that the edges of the street leading into the curb were covered in orange blossoms. It is nothing new but for whatever reason I took special notice of it today. The blossoms had landed so generously upon the pavement that one could scarcely see it. I pictured in my head charmingly naughty pixies who laid the blossoms out as a gift to all of us while we slept.
As I looked at these blossoms I realized that I could only process them intellectually. That their beauty could not pierce my heart. That is, I recognized in my head that they were a beautiful thing, but my body was not involved in the experience. As such it had no healing effect on me. It dawned on me that this was the perfect metaphor for my recent miseries: my inability to feel connected, which in turn leaves me unable to take in the world and its innumerable gifts.
When it is nature’s gifts that I cannot take in I feel sad but I do not feel guilty. When it is a loved one’s gifts that I cannot take in I feel badly for myself and the other. How generous the people in my life are. Whatever may be missing in my life I dare say that I am given more quality love than many who have more than I do in terms of quantity (whether it be more income, more friends, a partner, etc). And yet this gratitude…once again, I can only access it in my head. My chest remains heavy and closed down. Incapable of fully opening itself up.
I love fiercely. Even now in this relatively shut down space I know how big my heart is. I know that it is capable of loving with as little ego as possible. And so it makes me all the sadder that I cannot seem to connect to this; that even as I say this, that even as the tears stream down my cheeks, I cannot seem to fully connect with myself.
Too frequently I stumble through my days with the goal of survival: just make it through another day intact. I long to approach a day with the goal of thriving; to feel as though I am safe and secure and full of life force that I can let loose upon the world!
Here I think of COVID. I think…I hope…clearly I am unsure but I will say it anyway: I think that COVID has exacerbated my problems. Or, put differently, has made the problems that were already there feel worse: feeling overworked, feeling the lack of partnership, the lack of touch, etc. I cannot blame COVID for my struggles, only for turning the volume up greatly on most of them. But can I blame COVID for my inability to truly appreciate the orange blossoms? I think not. In fact, I could see a version of reality in which I appreciated them all the more during this time. They could have served as a reminder that there is still so much beauty in life.
I feel like apologizing. To the orange blossoms. To nature. To my friends. To those who have fewer privileges. Apologizing for my inability to take in the nourishment that is there. Perhaps I seek pity (or hopefully just understanding) when I say that every day I do my best. When I cannot make it out of bed it is not for laziness. It is not for lack of gratitude. It is because I feel an oppressive force pushing down on me. When I cannot look people in the eyes it is because I feel ashamed of my inability to let their love in fully.
So today…what have I done today? I have scheduled three intakes and completed sending out the paperwork on them. I have exercised. I have filled out financial forms related to my future self-care. I have attempted to hold back my ego in support of a friend. I have offered to pick up groceries for my father. Even if I can only appreciate this intellectually…I want to acknowledge this. Why? Perhaps it is simply to remind myself that I am not a bad person even when I feel like a miserable wretch.
And what will I do today? I will try to help five patients who will trust me with their thoughts and feelings. I will feed myself. I will rest. I fear I will sound silly or perhaps overly desperate but…I pray that I can feel moments of inspiration. Of serenity. I pray that I may feel any love or appreciation that comes in my direction. Maybe it’s not silly to pray. It just feels strange to pray when you’re not quite sure who or what you’re praying to. But what else is left? If I cannot find faith then I’m not sure I will be able to get out of this hole. What is faith? How does one get it? Do you just will yourself toward belief? Trust that a universe that can cause so much pain will take care of you? I do not know. I only know that I am well beyond the ideas that therapy, exercise and interpersonal love will be enough. So I am not ashamed to say (no, I am ashamed to say it but will say it anyway) that I am on my knees and ready. Ready to believe in my bones that things will turn out okay. To believe that I am worthy. Worthy of love. Worthy of existence. Just….worthy.