Turnaround in the Pit

I’ve been feeling like a combination of the Dan Siegel material, the diagnosis of macular degeneration, and reading my early journals brought me to a place where I feel beyond redemption.  I think of this as the Pit, a deep well, too far down for light to penetrate, stone walls, a stone bottom.  I’ve been feeling extremely vulnerable, especially to unexpected happenings that demand something of me.  Here are some journal entries relating to being pulled down and what happened to me there.

Wednesday, December 4
What I’m in now doesn’t feel like depression, I don’t feel like I don’t deserve to live, I don’t feel like I have to do something to change the things that have gone wrong, but I want to do something to lift my spirits.  It occurred to me that I might start reading my beginning journals.

Friday, December 6
I read more of my journal yesterday.  I’m finding it very sad.  The writing is faintly hysterical.  I think I’m trying to counteract depression with writing that’s over poeticized — if that’s the right word.  It’s more self-consciously poetic than actually poetic.  Very adolescent.  I’ve started work with a therapist, and I’m trying to stop being so self-involved and get more interested in other people.  But I’m hurt so easily and I’ve been hurt so badly.

Saturday, December 7
I am badly thrown off by just finding out that the Adult Education Committee is going to meet this morning at 11 at a café in Hanover.  I had planned to have a lazy morning.  I feel so thrown off.

Sunday, December 8
I am feeling totally disconnected.  Partly reading my journal — which may not be a good idea.  I’m seeing how disconnected I was from people, maybe that’s triggered disconnect, along with the Dan Siegel information about brain damage from neglect.  I’m also a little worried because the idea of ceremony lifted me so high on Friday, and then I dropped so badly yesterday.  I’ve been cutting back on the lamotrigine, and wonder if that’s a problem.

Actually, the Dan Siegel material is not about “damage” but about failure to develop certain connections in the brain.  The fact that I call it “damage” shows that I’ve already been triggered.

Lamotrigine is a medication that is supposed to smooth out the ups and downs.

I felt so thrown off by learning about the committee meeting at the last minute.  I was worried about driving there.  I tried to meditate, I tried to just be with the discomfort, but it didn’t settle or change.  Finally I started reading Parker Palmer’s book and that helped.

“A Hidden Wholeness” is the book we will be discussing in Quaker Meeting.  I am one of the co-leaders, and I suddenly felt very incompetent to lead any discussion group.  I notice how badly my confidence in myself has fallen.

In the afternoon I went to the memorial service for Faith Mattison.  She was a very special person, loved by her family, did a lot of good in the world, never married or had kids.  I’m afraid it left me feeling like a useless blot on the surface of the earth.

Monday, December 9
Headache.  Discouraged and disconnected.  But Karen was a big help.  I no longer feel “irredeemably bad,” so I am finding my way out of this.  Yesterday, in Meeting — which was held here at Kendal — I remembered about “that of God within,” and checked that space under my heart.  There was warmth there — not the blazing star I once found, but enough warmth so I knew there was something not nothing.  Then I thought of all the other people who were feeling unredeemable, and I went down into the pit to sit with them.  That felt like the absolutely right thing to do.

Karen is my therapist in Montpelier, who I’ve been seeing since the early 90’s.  I continue to see her once a month because she is an emotional anchor for me.

I realized that feeling smashed beyond hope of recovery was the root of the desperate need to “prove I deserve to live.”

The other reason I’m feeling so vulnerable, so expecting to be rejected or ignored, is because of reading my early journal.  I’m just at the time when I smashed David’s windows and was hospitalized.  Sitting with the other unredeemable/disposables in the Pit is like sitting with my younger self, desperate for connection and yet terrified of reaching out.

Tuesday, December 10
I woke up feeling very cold emotionally, with images of Robert and Jim killing the professors.  Then I start to be afraid that I’m possessed.  Then I think about Jenny and her painful journals, and her painful journey, and I see that she’s not possessed, just badly hurt.  I really want to get to grief group today, I feel connected and at home there.

I buckled down and worked on the blog post about the turnaround in the Pit.  It seems so astonishing, it felt like I was there for weeks, but it was less than 24 hours.  It’s true I wasn’t there very long because first I thought of all the other people who felt that unredeemable, and then I remembered Younger Jenny who’d written the journal that triggered me.  When I sat beside that Jenny, I was prepared to just be with her for weeks.  I didn’t try to do anything, I didn’t try to help her, just reassured her I’d stay with her, but help showed up all over the place — the David Whyte CD, grief group, Erica, Richard Rohr’s daily meditations— this week on the first steps of AA’s program, the stones of Callanish…  I never thought of the natural world as being friendly support, but it was to Nature I went as a troubled teen.

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