Here’s a radical proposition for you: Whatever you want for your life, it can happen this moment.
I’ve spent two-thirds of my life thinking this is baloney. It wasn’t until the past six years that I began paying attention to what I think and how that shows up in the world.
Like many, I played the victim card. And I played it very well.
In 2001, I titled a document “It happened slowly” on my then honker-of-a-desktop PC, in which I detailed my five-month journey into depression. I came across this file today as I was sifting through my writings (of which I have a lot) for You Again Yoga.
Most of the memories from the file I remembered, either vaguely or vividly. But then I read this:
“I wish that I could sit here today and tell you that everything is great now – but it isn’t; earlier this week I ended up in the Children’s hospital emergency room. Diagnosis: depression, SI (Suicidal Ideas).”
As if watching Downton Abbey Season 3, this was a plot twist I didn’t expect but should have seen coming. I startled myself and Willow by sobbing — erratic, heaving breaths for this girl who was but is no longer me.
I couldn’t tell you the color of the hospital walls or how long I was there or who drove me or even if my parents were in the room. This document says that four people talked to me: a nurse, psychiatrist, a doctor and a doctor’s resident. It says by the time I was in the hospital, the feelings had subsided and they sent me home.
“I spent all Monday night crying on my bed and wanting to die,” I wrote in 2001. “The strangest thing is that there was really nothing that caused it.”
How could I not have remembered this?
Well, the answer is obvious: Why would I want to?
Remembering to forget
The 17-year-old girl in this story wrote about the chemical imbalances in her brain; the psychosomatic stomach aches and sinus infections she would manifest, only to have a doctor tell her nothing was physically wrong; of feeling worthless, weak and shameful for taking an antidepressant.
I am open about my story now because I want to reassure this teenage girl that it gets better. Heck, I want to buy her a yoga mat so she can start paying attention to her body so as to crawl out of her lying mind.
This girl held on to grudges, hurts and what-if’s so tightly that beloved reruns flooded her mind, crowding out the potential for any happy new memories.
She focused on remembering all the bad and ignoring any potential good, without realizing what she was doing.
Which brings us back to this:
Whatever you want for your life, it can happen this moment.
- If you want misery, you can have it.
- If you want happiness, it’s yours.
- If you want to be done being irritated by whatever it is that triggers you, you’re done.
To make this happen, you need discipline beyond your “Aha” moment. You need to set your intention and return to it as often as you can until your brain remembers to forget the pain.
Your path to freedom
There are two things to be learned from the following paragraph of my 17-year-old self’s diary.
- I knew even then that the best way to get better is to let go.
- I still like hyphens — a lot.
“Nobody is ever destined to live his or her life in that misery. But when you’re in it, you don’t realize that. You don’t realize you’re another person, being very unlike yourself and doing very strange things…. And once I admitted it — and once I took that medicine and vowed to get better — once I actually let my problem go… it was gone.”
As writer-I-adore Anne Lamott says, discipline creates the path to freedom. And we’ll arrive at this freedom sooner if we take care of ourselves. Taking care means letting go, giving in, following the flow, showing up for what we know to be true: that we are not our worries and triggers and illnesses unless we believe it to be so.
“Radical self-care is what we’ve been longing for, desperate for, our entire lives — friendship with our own hearts,” writes Lamott.
You already know the way to your own heart.
In this moment, choose to follow it.