One of the most devastating consequences of shame, trauma, and loss is that we can internalize feelings of powerlessness or collapse – where we feel hopeless and impotent to effect any positive change in our lives.
You may feel stuck in a prolonged ‘freeze’ response, where you feel powerless to change, heal or grow. You may feel overwhelmed by feelings of rage, loathing, and frustration – frustration that often gets directed towards yourself and to your hurt and vulnerable parts that self soothe with food.
This can lead to feelings of despair, hopelessness and a sense that we’ll never heal – that our lives will never feel good or whole. It can be so painful and ‘sticky.’
The refusal to live a living death
The feelings are familiar. If you’ve been a reader of mine, you may have heard me share that alongside my years of eating disorders, I’ve also had a long journey through depression.
One of the greatest challenges with my depression is how I’ve felt trapped by it – as if I would never break free from the despair, darkness, and pain that engulfed me. I wondered if I would ever feel like ‘myself’ again.
I had an epiphany one day while listening to an On Being podcast, where Quaker writer, teacher, and educator Parker Palmer had this to say about his own journey through depression, and the difference between ‘true’ and ‘false’ suffering:
“I do not believe that the God who gave me life wants me to live a living death. I believe that the God who gave me life wants me to live life fully, and well.”
I felt all the hairs on my neck and arms stand up at attention as I acknowledged that I, too, wanted to live fully, and well.
Building the foundation for the new life you long for
It was about this time that I began creating my Book of Love. I didn’t know it at the time, but later, I realized that creating my book was a tangible way of stepping forward and claiming this wish: that I refuse to live a living death.
Making my book became an important piece of my foundation for healing and growth.
I think that’s what happens when we begin to ‘play’ with our dreams in some tangible way, whenever we act on those desires of the heart – whether it’s in creating a book, writing, dancing, joining a group, taking a class and learning something new, or reaching out for help.
It begins to build a foundation towards the new life we long for.
Reclaiming your birthright
Every time I worked on my book, I was like the barren Queen of folk tales of old, who yearns for a child and dreams of this yet to be born one: breathing my desires into a cup, reaching towards my hopes and longings, planting them, and giving them life. (If you want to hear a gorgeous telling of this folk story, I invite you to listen to troubador Martin Shaw’s version here.)
These places that hold our dreams are like midwives – birthing and breathing new life into the tender and precious desires of the soul, desires that may feel buried, hopeless or forgotten.
What longs to be born in you?
You may be walking through your own hopelessness. You may be wrestling with depression, or traveling through a journey of grief, loss, or transition.
You may wonder about feeling joy again, and you, too, carry dreams and longings within you.
My book was a love letter to joy and new life. But your book may be different. Your book may be a love letter to hope.
Your book may be a love letter to a relationship that’s beginning, or ending; a love letter to the parts of yourself that have become lost; a love letter to a new desire – to write, to teach, to paint, to dance – that longs to express itself in the world; a love letter to a desire for a partner, a beloved; a love letter to heal a painful past; a love leader to a cause or passion or thirst for justice.
I encourage you to seek out and claim those things, places and people who support you in birthing these hopes and dreams. And if The Book of Love feels like one of those places, come on in and join us.
Class begins this coming Monday, October 22nd, which is also the last day to register.
Should you have any questions or wonder if this class is the best fit for you, or questions on payment plans, please reach out – we’re here to help.
I’ll close with this thought from Joan Mills: “I’ve gone through life believing in the strength and competence of others; never in my own. Now, dazzled, I discover that my capacities are real. It’s like finding a fortune in the lining of an old coat.”
To the fortune in your coat,