“The way to suffer well and be happy is to stay in touch with what is actually going on; in doing so, you will gain liberating insights into the true nature of suffering and of joy.” No Mind No Lotus – Thich Nhat Hanh
I started reading the book No mind No Lotus at the recommendation of a friend. When I ordered the book I did not notice the words in the center of the front cover. When I opened the amazon package I saw it ‘the art of transforming suffering’. Interesting, was my first thought. I started reading the book and am only a few pages into it. This is a book I want to read slowly, savor the lines, because this is what I need to learn, the art of transforming suffering.
In the few pages I have read, I realize the zen Buddhist teacher wants us to realize how important it is to live in the moment. I am anxious to unfurl the rest of his wisdom in the book. A few weeks ago my mind was clouded, I was stressed, I was depressed. If I was reading something, it flew past me. I could not register a single word. There was a dense fog clouding my mind, with zero visibility. My therapist kept reminding me that I have been here before and the fog has cleared before. I did not, rather could not believe a word she said. It felt like forever. I was living with ghosts from the past in my head. I thought I needed a higher dose of my depression meds. The news of my son’s college admission did little to clear the fog. A few hours of happiness and I was back as an ass with the heavy load.
It is difficult to explain depression, it is not like fracturing a toe that one can see in an x-ray. It is not possible to see the moment, let alone live it. It is like a web of your past, your anxiousness of the future, woven so intricately, that you cannot seem to find the edge. The more you try to get out, the more you are entangled. With a bone fracture, you can get a cast to set it right. With depression, you can get meds, but you alone have to make small changes, take baby steps to come out of it. My baby step as pointed out by my therapist was to make a list of the things clogging my mind. Separate them out as those that I can control and those I cannot. It is an extremely simple thing to do, but put the serenity prayer into action.
Coming out of trauma is not a small ordeal. It takes time, you need to give yourself time. The longer you have been in trauma, the longer the road to rediscovering yourself. It takes effort, sometimes it feels like every ounce of you is at work. It is hard, extremely hard at times, but that small voice inside you somewhere, the superpower hidden beneath the layers, kicks your gut, pushing you, every moment, every day. There are different categorizations of people, but emotionally there are only two. The ones who have been abused and the ones who have not. It is that simple. The world shapes up based on this.
People who have not been abused have a strong sense of self. They know what they want, they know how they will react in a certain situation. Their highs and lows are closer to the normal. They don’t get too excited or too sad instantly because their center of emotional gravity is deep rooted.
The abused are the utterly confused strata of society. They have absolutely no fucking clue, of self worth. You cannot blame them, because their reality has been so masterly altered by the abusers that it’s all a haze. Their level of expectation of happiness is so low that anything small makes them euphoric. If they are lucky they go through years of therapy to find some normalcy. But do they ever become whole again? I wonder.. one’s life is so caught up in looking for red flags that they forget to experience the happiness laid right in front of their eyes. It’s always a question, “Can I trust this?”. It’s atrocious how our souls are battered, by another mere mortal. How someone could think that we are a toy to be pulled and pushed and reshaped the way they choose.
It is very difficult for a person who has not experienced abuse to understand. There is so much to unlearn and rediscover, not something that’s out there in the world, but yourself. A whole lifetime wasted on this unlearning and being able to trust again. I wonder how many years of therapy it will take to be whole again.
I write so much about trauma and abuse and healing and depression, I wonder if people who are reading this are bored. But then I feel the awareness is not there, and it is very sad. In this age and time where information is at our fingertips (overused phrase, I know), millions of people who don’t have the avenue to get out abusive relationships and get access to a good therapist who will help them move forward. Through therapy I have relived the suffering to be able to heal from it. At the other end of this reliving is joy, a release of the pain, my version of it, a person listening to it who has my emotional wellbeing in front and center.
If you are thinking, she is so broken, yes I am. And this is unashamedly, me. Healing is more difficult than the suffering. You are a constant work in progress to calm the waters, settle the waves down to reach that state of serenity where water is one with nature. People will come and throw a stone, because they don’t like anything still. There will be ripples, which will disrupt the stillness, but healing is knowing that the ripples will eventually die and the water will be still again. The stone deep inside cannot be moved, it will lie there and in the end we gather many stones, moving from stillness to ripples and back to stillness again..