(At Kripalu with Jack Kornfield, December 2008)
At least I slept. Feeling totally bleak this morning. It was so painful yesterday, not to be able to feel any softening in my heart as I heard people’s stories of compassion, not to be able to think of anything good that I had done that brings the body change that means truth. So my story is that I’m a bad person, that I have no natural compassion, that I’m a weakling and a coward that I can’t just shift this by my own efforts. Can I have some compassion for this poor woman who is so hard on herself, and who believes such a cruel story?
That damn story is not true. I’m not incapable of compassion but my unhealed wounds are making it impossible to feel right now. This is clinical depression rooted in post-traumatic stress, it is something that happened to me, not who I am or what I choose.
I just don’t have enough support, inner and outer. I make it be that if I had lived better or more wisely I could have a network of friends to support me… But that’s wrong and cruel. I’ve spent my life struggling with depression and terror. I haven’t had the time or the energy or the confidence or the emotional health to make friends, and too many people who might have been friends have said unintentionally cruel things to me, because they have no idea how trauma affects people.
The woman in the dorm, when I mentioned depression, said she knew about that, gave me a hug. Then she said she was a bad person, a failure, she had many regrets, and my heart opened and I hugged her. So even in the dead stoniness of depression my heart can still open in the face of someone else’s pain.