After my first divorce I got hit with a bout of full blown clinical depression. It felt like I swallowed a half ton magnet that was either trying to pull me into the center of an eternal void or electrocute me. So, not the funnest time.

Because I’m a therapist, I knew I needed to get my prefrontal cortex to tell my hyperactive brain stem to chill, so I took myself to Busch Gardens and hopped on a beast called Sheikra. I hate roller coasters, mostly because the first twenty years of my life had enough g-force loops to last a lifetime. But the method to my madness was to use the simulated torture to take my meditation practice to the next level. It helped that I lived in Florida. Maybe the only time help and Florida will ever appear in the same sentence.

The goal was simple. The coaster was a metaphor for my ridiculous life and I had a choice. I could become hysterical every time the bottom dropped out, or not. I could choose to remain peaceful and radically accepting as I peaked, got stuck upside down, or found myself barreling from the sky at breakneck speed into an ocean of funnel cakes, or not. We may or may not have chosen to be here, but we do have a choice about how we live. I might’ve cried like five times. Many thanks again to my auntie Debbie for the season pass. I got a ton of practice.

Depression isn’t just a case of the sads. It’s anger turned in on ourselves. Suppressed rage actually. A pressing down of the humiliation and sheer terror that somehow we deserved whatever nightmare happened to us. For as much as I’d learned up to that point, I still hadn’t completely figured out the universe or how to live a life that meant something other than exhausting survival. And divorce hurts. Each one cost roughly ten pounds, plus a painful amount of dollars in therapy and iron infusions.

Back then I saw marriage as my one chance to share something whole, precious, safe, sacred, beautiful and unblemished with another person. I saw it as a way to restore everything sexual abuse takes away; first times, self-worth, safety, boundaries, comfort, connection, the ability to enjoy being in our bodies. It’s understandable that anyone would want those experiences. My mistake was projecting unmet needs for healing onto a partner, the wedding industry and a man made concept of God.

Buckle up. Hard truth coming. All the work of reclaiming myself was my responsibility. In part, depression happens when we realize they broke it and we have to fix it. It being us and for extra fun, I still had to work, pay bills, shower, get dressed, clean my apartment and feed myself. Shout to single parents. I sincerely can’t imagine. See how the suppressed rage makes sense?

Both of my now disillusioned marriages were unsafe in different ways despite everything I voraciously attempted to learn to ensure I’d get love right. I didn’t want to fail. I now know that anything we do from a place of fear is bound to backfire; as in kickback from a shotgun or standing in three feet of smoke from an actual fire. Hey, this seems dangerous. Should I bake you a pie?? Back then I was so completely cut off from my instincts I didn’t see red flags. Strangely, I’m basically Sherlock Holmes in my profession but when it’s come to people I sleep next to I’m more like (insert relatable idiot here). I suspect it has something to do with the neurobiological wiring of trauma. When the people closest to us, the people whose DNA lives in our skin, blood, hair and bones, hurt us, we don’t know what healthy or safe love is supposed to look or feel like.

Yes, I prayed to a kind, gentle, handsome Jewish man every day of my often scary childhood, but he wasn’t physically here. If I wanted to talk to him I had to make up all his parts or wait for an inspirational gust of wind and then try to decode the meaning of dead leaves, street dirt and trash. This is obnoxious whether you’re 5 or fifty. What I always wanted in response to my prayers was a crystal clear directive. Do exactly this and you’re guaranteed the good and perfect outcome that will lead to your ultimate happiness. Ha! Imagine? And honestly, I’ve never wanted perfect, just normal, sane, stable. The gauntlet of absolute bullshit it took to get here still seems excessive. I forgive and it’s all good but, I would like to implore to whoever or whatever’s up and out there to ease up on future generations cause geezus.

Great news. I’m not sad anymore. Quite the opposite actually. The first failure led me to codependent recovery, (if you call yourself a ‘people pleaser’ or anyone in your family has struggled with addiction, you may wanna check it out) and the second, served with a side of pandemic chaos, brought me to EMDR. I’ve spent the last decade cleaning out my closet. There’s nothing in there I haven’t faced, processed, sorted or thrown out. Healing work is like spring cleaning on steroids.

The past few weeks I’ve been reflecting on my intention for this year; Surrender. I knew it was a gamble when that word came to mind. I surrender all to you. It’s freeing, humbling and maybe a little scary to throw up your hands, fall back on your knees and let go. In yoga it’s called Supta Virasana, reclining hero pose. First it hurts. Then, as you deepen your breath and relax into the pose, it rips apart all the stuck energy in your ankles, knees, hips, belly, back, neck, arms, shoulders and head. Then it hurts some more and eventually you feel like a warm, melted caramel. A hero caramel.

There’s a subtle difference between resignation and surrender. It’s the invisible condition of our heart. Resignation is sarcasm bordering on learned helplessness. Surrender, at least for me, feels more playful bordering on absurdity. Wow! Huh. Didn’t see any of this coming. Cool. So, what’s next? I might still be a little salty when it comes to humans or trusting my own body but I have no doubts about God. Maybe we’re cosmic rag dolls. Maybe we’re divine beings in skin suits. I don’t know but I look forward to each part of every day. I want to be here. I want to keep discovering, dreaming, creating, exploring, playing, growing, thinking, feeling, breathing. It is ultimately all good. The long version of this life-thesis summary is stuck in my, as yet, unpublished but wicked great book. For now, with boatloads of love, ride on. ~

ps: I made all the photos and, as always, I love you xo

4 thoughts on “Ride On

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