Living Raw: When weakness is strength

It’s been an… interesting week. Interesting if you think depression is interesting, that is. Which I do. I think it’s interesting how my external circumstances can remain the same while my internal one can change the way I perceive it, to the point where I feel very dissatisfied with my life, my work, and most of all myself.

Very interesting.

Not very fun though. I felt really good after identifying some of the actual and abstract feelings weighing me down (thanks for all your kind wishes, it means a lot, I mean imagine if fragile ole’ me wrote a post like that and was met with pure silence! Eek! So thank you again), then the next day did not co-operate at all and I found myself in an even deeper slump.

Boo.

It wasn’t meant to go like that.

But rather than trying to dodge, duck and escape my feelings, I tried something else – showing up in my life as I was. I wrote this post on Facebook to describe my method:

“Today I’m practicing the spiritual practice of showing up as I am. I’m a bit happy and a lot sad, and I’m not sure why. Today I made a mental gratitude list, went to yoga, had a delicious coffee, did some work, went for a walk, had a nice lunch, did some more work and made a nutricious dinner while shedding a few cleansing tears (I caught them before they hit the sauce).

My boyfriend gave me a hug and didn’t try to fix me which made me feel so much better in itself. So instead of asking how you are today, who are you? Because whoever you happen to be today is fine with me, for we are all in this human thing together. Sending unconditional love xo”

That didn’t fix it, by the way.

The next day I woke up feeling a bit lighter. I love mornings, so if I’m feeling down I always try to get an early night so the morning comes quicker. I’m not sure when I made this shift from night-owl to morning lover (maybe since becoming a sober, traveling, writing, yogi, I dunno). By mid afternoon I may have had my feelings hurt ten times and resent five people (four of whom I’ve never met), but in the mornings, I’m a clean slate – open and free to the love and good will of the universe (as long as it brings a strong Cafe latte, stat).


COFFEEEEEEE!

So Monday I got my butt down to yoga, knowing it was the ‘next right thing’ for me to do. I arrived to the usual flurry of air kisses before taking my place on the parquet floor next to my friend Jorge (not our Jorge, another one, I guess it’s the Mexican name-equivalent of Dave).

“How was your weekend?” he beamed happily.

Jorge is always happy, at least he seems to be. I reciprocated his smile, but thought about my answer for blurting out an automated ‘fine thanks’. In a split second I thought back to my pledge to own my feelings, rather than pretending they didn’t exist.

“Umm, not so great,” I responded, rather neutrally.

“Why? The weather was great!” He replied. “What was wrong?”

“Just my thinking,” I answered truthfully.

“Aaah,” he said, seeming to understand. “Just smoke a joint!” he laughed.

I laughed too. “If only it were that easy,” I replied light-heatedly.

“When your head is bad, just smoke a joint and forget about it.”

I really wish you could hear his Mexican accent telling me this. Fogedabowdit.

I felt a slight pang of jealously toward the people for whom smoking a joint can cure them of their mental illness (given that those people actually exist).

Fuck them, I thought, irrationally, before sitting in the lotus position and chanting Omm.

The class was good. A new teacher. I went with the flow. It wasn’t a tough class but I felt sluggish and took a small rest in the middle.

After class Jorge questioned me again.

“You got tired, huh?”

“Yes, a little.”

“Why? You usually strong woman!”

“Not today,” I answered with a smile.

The rest of the day I thought about how upside down we have everything. I was grateful to Jorge for bringing it to my attention and reminding me how deceiving appearances can be.

Pushing myself on the yoga mat, twisting myself into precarious positions and challenging my physical stamina, that’s easy for me. It’s also easy for me to show up for my life when I’m feeling happy, joyous and free. Like, really easy.

It’s easy when it’s easy…

But it’s not easy for me to accept my limits on certain days, to send myself compassion when I am feeling like a layer of skin is missing, or to take a rest on my yoga mat in the middle of class. And whilst those not-so-easy things may look like weakness, they are really strength.

Admitting that my thinking is off, that I’m not feeling great and that I need to be gentle with myself, is really tough. It makes me vulnerable, and removes yet another of the many masks I’ve collected over my life-time in order to hide who I really am.

Choosing to not take a drink or a drug or pick up any other kind of mask; to sit with gnawing discomfort and allow it to be, all while clinging to the deep, inner knowing that it will pass and joy is on its way, just as soon as I am given the lesson I need to learn, is really freaking brave, if I do say so myself.

And I do.

For living raw is not just about raw pain, but also raw love, raw joy and raw exhilaration, and I get to experience sooooo much more of the latter because of the way I choose to live my life today.

Raw.

Roar!

Get it?

 

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Comments

Living Raw: When weakness is strength — 29 Comments

  1. Great post Sarah!

    I love the honesty in you posts. It takes a lot of strength admitting things aren’t right, especially when we are our own harshest critics. Why don’t I feel ok when everything else is the same on the outside?

    I guess that’s what makes us human, a big bag of emotions. But you are right, you’re allowed to feel vulnerable and the feelings do pass. Keep it ROAR my friend :-)
    Rob recently posted..Losing it! The intensity of solitude.My Profile

  2. I totally get this. I feel I define myself by my commitment to do things. And so when things or off, or I need to ask for help, I feel that is a weakness, when being able to admit that is so, or to ask for help really is a strength.
    Emily recently posted..Can You Do the Chan Chan?My Profile

  3. I admire your willingness to admit and confront your raw side … that is so difficult for most of us. I have been on a journey to do just that and really find your writing to be encouraging.

    • Thank you Annette, I am so glad you get something from my journey, it makes it so worthwhile. All the best to you my dear, it’s all a process, we just keep showing up and doing our best.

  4. I really feel this too. I’ve had plenty of doctors telling me it’s a good idea to start taking antidepressants, and that I won’t really need to be on them that long (“only 15 years or so!”) In comparison, I have one brave naturopath warning me about the long term effects of upsetting my body chemistry, and one brave meditation teacher telling me, “You’ve gotta feel it to heal it”.

    Sometimes feeling it hurts so damn bad that I can’t stand it, but the healing does come. And anything that can dull pain can also dull the good feelings. So I’d rather live raw too.
    Karyn @ Not Done Travelling (formerly plasticsux) recently posted..New Friends In Nakavu VillageMy Profile

    • Yes its definitely our choice to make. I definitely feel for long-term sufferers and feel very grateful that mine seems to come in short, sharp waves (I hope!). Sending you lots of love on your journey, I am also changing things up this week with some more meditation and nutrition.

  5. It’s easy to notice when things that are usually so easy suddenly feel so *heavy*. The depression I went through the last couple years made my runs, yoga, cooking, everything I really loved, feel so heavy…mostly because my heart wasn’t in it. But I guess you just keep pushing through, knowing that those things bring you closer to who you are and trusting that it’s the right path for you, rather than falling prey to the “quick fixes” that can be so destructive.
    Carmel recently posted..SPELLBOUNDMy Profile

    • Yes, it’s so insidious!! It has really given me compassion for people with long-term depression because it SUCKS not to enjoy the things you usually do. I heard a great ted talk that said depression is the opposite of vitality, and its a pretty apt description.

  6. I understand that sluggishness, that heaviness you talk about so well. That feeling that you can’t get out of bed because your limbs are so heavy, that you can’t even speak because your tongue feels like a tombstone in your mouth and your brain feels seeped in molasses… that happens to me, well, not all the time, but far more often than I would like. I think the thing that is so frustrating about these moments is that you can’t point to any obvious external source and say “Aha! That’s why I’m sad. That’s what I can change.” Instead you’ve just got to sit with it and let it be and know that nothing is permanent, so this too will pass, and until it does, you’ve just gotta do the best you can.

    Lots of hugs to you, Sarah. And a might roar as well!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..Chewing the Fat with Christina LoiaconoMy Profile

  7. I loved this, Sarah. Thank you for sharing. I am inspired by how you handled your depression, with such self-compassion and gentleness. It truly, truly is strength. I am learning that lesson with depression, too, and it gives me courage to hear someone else is on the road with me.
    I also chuckled when I read the “Fogedabowdit”! :) Having just been in Mexico, I can picture that exchange perfectly… hilarious!
    Laurie recently posted..The Patron Saint of Lost Causes (The Day My Sisters Died, Part 3)My Profile

  8. Ah the old show yourself the same gentleness and compassion that seems to come so easily towards others. Let me know if you find an easy way to do it won’t you?? You are a beautiful soul Sar. There’ll be ups and downs but don’t ever forget that x

  9. I really, really love the attitude you’ve expressed in this post, Sarah. I love that you can look for the beauty and strength in your times of weakness.

    Interesting what you wrote about loving mornings, too, because when I’m suffering with depression and anxiety mornings are the hardest. I wake up filled with dread and beg the day to get rolling so I have something, anything to distract me from myself.

    I am going to remember this post.
    Alex recently posted..Casco Viejo: Heart and Soul of Panama CityMy Profile

    • Yes, I get that at times, too. That cloud that descends as soon as my eyes open. I don’t like those days!! I am really attempting to make space in my mornings for nourishing activities. Some quiet time, and checking in with my inner self, affirmations, inspirational readings, light exercise and nutritious food are all pathways to a peaceful, happy day for me and I need to put them above other things like work and checking emails. I’ll let you know how I go!

  10. hey Sarah just open your beautiful heart that you have and rest will follow you ,… ….your path …….
    people is very afraid to do it,. all the good and much the bad experience it is a learning tool for us .
    please send me an email because I cant
    saludos y suerte
    hermosa Nina

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