Hopeless Pain

(Written in October 2003)
O god I feel so hopeless at this moment.  I think if I could just lay down my head and die I might do it — but no, that’s not what I want.  What I want is a break from the endless hanging out with depression.  Well, I got a break last night — I was too tired to do anything with it after yoga but cobble together a supper and read.  And I’m being able to “be with” depression, grief, and despair in a different way than in the past.  I have a lot more patience.  And I have faith that it’s possible to come through this to some place of transformation.  I just don’t know how long it will take, or whether I will manage it in this lifetime.  I’m also afraid that the best I’ll be able to do is like yesterday: having both the beauty of nature and the most awful pain and feeling very alive.

The pain in my heart is so great — there’s something about this deep level that’s so difficult.  I suppose because I’m so practiced at making myself wrong and turning away from this kind of pain.
Did my best to sit and breathe with it for 20 minutes.  It’s very painful.  I understand better why people will do anything — keep busy, drink, abuse children — to avoid feeling this kind of pain.  I think this is the “soft spot” that Pema Chodron talks about.  It’s like an unhealed wound.  Part of the pain is the vulnerability — too open and sensitive, feeling only cold hostility or indifference — desperately wanting to be safe and warm and comforted and not seeing any possibility of that.

While walking I tried to look at my sense of despair.  It’s not that there isn’t a spiritual dimension to the universe, it’s that there is a spiritual dimension but it’s cold and impersonal, and if I don’t do things right I’ll be doomed to be this miserable for the rest of my life.  I have to figure out the “right thing” because there is no help or guidance or support, and if I don’t have the skills or am too weak to hold up then too bad for me.  Well, I can see this as a description of my family of origin — where there was a lot of invalidation and neglect, no compassion, no warmth and tenderness — this is not how the universe really is, this is the environment I grew up in.

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