Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how many self-help books you’ve read, how many therapy sessions you have gone to, or how many medications you are taking, the darkness still takes over, and you question your life, whether you have the will to live.
I’ve had this experience myself (replacing medications with supplements), many times, and I find myself reflecting on those times today.
Why? Because it is Father’s Day, and I have almost lost my father many times. So I am sitting here today feeling gratitude that he is with us and contemplating all the times we have almost lost him—times that I almost lost myself too. I am contemplating the path it took me to want to live life fully rather than simply living life because I was scared of dying.
“Do you want to fully engage in life and live it or do you want to live your life because your scared of dying?” It’s a question I ask almost all of my clients because I want them to really dig deep and figure it out. If you truly wanted to engage in life and live it, would you poison your body with toxins or talk constantly about why everything is wrong rather than some things right?
I remember having to face this question myself.
Back in the spring of 2007, I had just returned from an emergency trip to Israel to see my father, who had suffered his second heart attack in one month (the first one was while traveling to Paris). I remember the flight to Israel, wondering to if it would be the last time I saw him. The time spent there was good, as Dad recovered well, but by the end of the trip I was exhausted—physically, mentally and emotionally. By the time I arrived by in Boston, I became overwhelmed by depression, by a darkness so dark, I wanted to withdraw from everything.
I was tired. I was tired of trying to fix people and having it not work. I couldn’t save my father from having another cardiac event. It was going to happen whether or not I was a good daughter or not, told him to eat his vegetables or not, or reminded him to call for help when he was experiencing pain. I couldn’t do much about the atrocities happening around the world. I couldn’t change the suffering. It would always be there.
“What is the point then of my life,” I worried? “Why bother?”
These questions left such a heaviness in my heart, I could hardly bear it.
So I meditated. And in my meditation I asked my heart to show me the wound that was creating my sadness and pain. It was then that I saw myself hanging on tightly, about to fall, from the top of a castle wall, to my death. As I was struggling to hang on, I was faced with the choice of letting go and falling to my peril or pulling myself up over that wall to stand on the roof of the castle, where I might be stuck forever.
I was not ready to die. The thought of it scared me, so I chose to pull myself over, onto the roof. I pulled myself over, only to find that I still could not let go of the wall because I was standing in a rapidly moving river. I was once again faced with two choices—I could either let go, perhaps to my peril, or continue the struggle to hold on by hanging on to the wall, in fear of what could happen to me.
“Why?” I asked myself. “What is this vision trying to tell me?”
“Oh. I see. Do I want to live or do I want to die? Which will it be? Will I choose to live and spend my life doubting my path, feeling alone, and that as much loss as there is in the world there is also grace and joy? Will I continue to distrust the process of life so that it will forever be a struggle that gets me no where?”
I realized then that I would have to take a leap of faith at some point and let go. I would have to trust that I did not have all the answers and that not all solutions were always apparent. I would have to let go of making the world better just so that I could be happy and choose to be happy because I could and help others also because I could.
Did I want to live or die? I wanted to live.
I let go of my grip on the wall in my vision and I said to myself, “relax into love.” I let go. I let go and found myself floating effortlessly in a pool of crystal blue water. I floated and felt only peace.
Curious, I wondered what might have happened had I let go of the wall in the first instance. So I brought back the image of myself hanging to the wall with nothing below me. I said to myself, “relax into love” and let go of my grip. And I flew. I soared through the sky like an eagle. I flew and I felt peace.
I understood then that I may not be able to fix my father or heal the world, but I could trust that the universe would work with me to make sure I had enough love reserves and resources to do the best that I could. It wasn’t up to me to fix anyone else or to be perfect myself. It was up to me to engage in life fully, love fully and be loved fully.
When I came out of my meditative state, I felt lighter, as if a heavy weight had lifted. I still had my fears and concerns, but now I had faith. And it is this faith that keeps me moving through the darkness if and when it comes. It reminds me that I choose life.
What about you? Have you thought about this question before? Really think about it, even if you have never suffered depression. If you truly want to engage fully in life, what would that look like? For me, it means feeling healthy and alive inside and out, something I can’t do if I am not taking care of myself or treating myself with love.
Which will it be?