Acceptance of Pain

from my journal for July 23, 1976:

amazing! miraculous! out of the depression and into an energy high. am weaving a finn weave project (tough going) that has been on the loom since Easter. Yesterday the weather broke and my mood did too. glorious sparkling days, each leaf and blade of grass stands clear.

what did it? first of all, acceptance of being depressed. Then staying with it, allowing myself to feel the feelings, stop searching for escapes. Stay with it, though this is painful, though it seems as though I have always been depressed, will always be depressed. and then somehow, miraculously, the wheel turns, the weather changes, and I am out of it.

I see that recently, I have come very quickly out of my downs by recognizing that it is the baby who is scared, despairing, frozen, and sitting down next to her and saying “I’m here, and I’m not going away.”  It has been a long long practice in being with the pain.  Reading through 1976 I found one of the first times I did it.  Something like 44 years I’ve been working on this practice of being with the pain instead of trying to make it go away or numbing it.

One thing it took me awhile to see was that “being with the pain” as an attempt to make it go away does not work.  I had to be willing to be depressed “forever” which is hard to do, until I finally began to learn that it “worked” and could do it without a manipulative motive.

So now, when I feel triggered by this whole coronavirus thing, I sit down next to the baby and say “I’m here.  It’s OK to be scared.  I’m not going away.”

Mostly, I’m not scared.  I saw fairly early on that we in the US were not prepared, that we would probably overwhelm our health system, and a lot of people will die.  I do have one friend who’s seriously at risk, my friend Eleanor, who already has a compromised immune system, and is trying to live on disability.  Otherwise, my siblings and their children & grandchildren are all in pretty good places to weather the storm.  I’m the most at risk, and I’m in the safest place.  But I have also accepted my death, so I’m really not worried about that at all.  I’m not at all happy about the people who will die, the people struggling to get food, the health workers who are risking their lives and overwhelmed.  I am ANGRY at the capitalist system which prepared us so badly for this.  And I think this is a tremendous opportunity for us to wake up and realize that we are all in this together, all in the same boat — Spaceship Earth — and we need to work together.

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