Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Journey of 1,000 miles

The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, so the saying goes. 

And then there's the next one. And the next. And the next.

And a seemingly endless, terrifyingly long journey it is. Taken into the mind all at once, it seems insurmountable. 

So many things in life are like that. Grief is one thing. Pain is another. And truth be told, the entirety of LIFE is like that. One day blindly merging into the next and if taken all as one heap, overwhelming. Bewildering. Uncertain. Stressful.

Regret for the past and worry for the future fill our mental health care facilities. We can call it a lot of fancy-sounding names but the many forms of depression and anxiety boil down at their most basic form, to an inability to live in the moment. (Notice I didn't say an unwillingness. I said an inability.)
"Without help it is too much for us." (Alcoholics Anonymous, ch 5: "How it Works"). 

Help comes from various sources. 
  • friends who care and who show it
  • mental health professionals
  • support groups
  • 12-step groups (which primarily are NOT support groups, so they get their own designation)
  • family and/or "chosen family"
  • church members
  • pastors and other church leaders
  • and last but definitely not least, trusting in a "higher power" has the potential to help. Immensely.
Even the word "help" implies a source outside of the self, so let's not delude ourselves into thinking that we can do this (live our whole lives) in isolation.

Ahh yes. Like a two-year-old flexing his independence muscles, the self vaunts itself up and says, "Me do it myself." 

Maybe. But would I ever want to be that self-sufficient that I didn't need anyone? Would I like the kind of person I would become if I thought I didn't need others in my life? Ever?

I don't think so. 

I think I have met a few of those people who honestly think they don't need anyone else. They wouldn't think of reading someone else's blog - at least not one like this - because they feel they have it all together. (Of course there are many reasons for not reading blogs; that's just one of them. ;) ) ...  But here's the thing. While these folks ooze with a sense of their own brand of bravery ... well, I cannot recall ever wanting to be around them for too long, because it all seemed a little, you know, arrogant. Just saying. 

I do know a few people, though, in whose company I feel welcome, safe, and accepted. And every single one of them admit that they need others in their lives to be able to put one foot in front of the other. To feel centered.

To stay in today. 
Photo "Footprints On The Beach Sand" is by
foto76 at

Life - and death, and deep grief (I am discovering) - teaches me that today is the day in which I live and love. Yesterday is gone, although I can still have wonderful memories to sustain me. Tomorrow is not here yet, although I can still dream of better days. But living life happens right here, right now, and while I'm doing that, I need help. And help is there. Even in the darkest of nights, all I need to do is whisper, "God?" and I know He understands. And He carries me for a while.

And there's more. 

Help from people is all around me if I know where to look; sometimes I need to ask for it, because people (contrary to my "if they love me they'll know how I feel" fallacy) can't read my mind, especially if I hide how I feel to "spare their feelings." (As if mine didn't count.) And sometimes help even comes unbidden, from places I never thought to check! This is certain: more people care about me than I had ever dreamed; I am finding that out now more than at any other time in my life. And although sometimes that care is expressed in ways I might not understand or appreciate at the time, I am learning to see past fumbled words and awkward silences and see the heart beneath. 

And it's good.

But help can only go so far, and the helpers around me only frustrated, if I insist on tormenting myself with the regrets of past that I can't change and with the dreaded events of the future that I am powerless to prevent. That is one reason why I have to remind myself to stay in today; it's the only way to not just survive, but to live. Fully. Take THIS step. Then the NEXT one. Left foot, right foot. Look up. Be grateful. Forgive. Breathe. Move on. 

Repeat. Repeat as many times as there are steps to take ... because the journey is worth it.

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