I’ve been through some huge convulsion, or conversion, or transformation, or rearrangement of my psyche — I don’t have any words for it. It’s even hard to talk about because its effects in my life don’t seem monumental. It all seems very natural, and at the same time a wholly new experience. The only thing I can compare it to is when I got on anti-depressant medication that worked, and normal brain chemistry was a completely different experience from depressed brain chemistry, an experience I’d never had before in my life. I felt like I had lost 500 pounds. I felt like I had dropped a big heavy chain attached to a big block of concrete.
In the present, I’m aware of two major changes. I can see the beauty in Nature for the first time in a long time, but at the same time there is grief — I’m guessing it’s because I can see that nature is suffering under our onslaughts. I see dying trees, and mourn. I see living trees and rejoice. The other huge change is that I don’t feel the old “push, push” any more. It had to do with needing to prove that I deserve to live. That push has disappeared many times in my life, but then reappeared fairly quickly. Now it seems to be gone for good. How do you notice something that’s not there? Usually by being struck by what’s there instead. In this case, I feel very solid, instead of vulnerable and anxious. In the past when I seem to have got to a place of healing, I tend to think “O good, I’m OK now,” and imagine I’ll be OK forever. Sometimes I even try to lower my medication, but that always turned out to be a disaster. Or I think “O jeez, I feel good now and that’s not OK so something will go wrong pretty soon.” Either way, something generally goes wrong pretty soon. Now, I expect there will still come hard times, but I’m not scared that I will lose this solidity, this feeling of being planted solidly in my life.
Part of this transformation was certainly helped along when I went to California to do a Grief Workshop with Francis Weller. My driver to Bolinas from the Airport, said, as we got close, “We’ve left America.” We had crossed the San Andreas fault, where the Pacific Plate is moving underneath the North American Plate, creating periodic earthquakes. We had left the North American Plate behind and are now on the Pacific Plate, a totally different kind of rock. I like to think of the earth made up of all these sliding shells of rock, and sliding apart, or over each other, or colliding with each other as the Indian block hits Asia in a million year crash that raises the Himalaya Mountains. All the pieces of me, sliding, riding over each other, breaking into volcanoes or mountain ranges. It’s such a surprising image. I always think, when I fall apart, of my pieces lying like a puzzle, scattered about. I didn’t realize that I also saw them falling through space, until I started doing Somatic Experiencing and suddenly there was a floor where no floor had been before. But this is new. All these pieces are staying in contact and interacting instead of separating out. I’ve seen beautiful pine cones — I don’t know if they are pine cones, but they look a little like the plates in a turtle’s shell. I’ll find one and bring it home to remind me that my pieces are all here and interacting and alive. They are not stuck in some rigid pattern, or completely separated. They can have a relationship. They can help each other change and grow. I think this is called “integration.”
Forgot one other thing. When I first read about Francis Weller’s “Five Gates of Grief” it validated my grief that I hadn’t let myself feel because I didn’t believe it was real. Once I allowed myself to grieve, I stopped being depressed. I haven’t been depressed since.