Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm is taking a sabbatical.....

It crept up on me. I did not see this coming.  Outwardly, I seemed to be Cheery-O, but when I came home, the stage make-up came off and my world was becoming about as wide as the living room couch.  It revolved around watching episode after episode of Oprah Super Soul Sunday, cruising the internet for every and any New Age guru, Christian millionaire preacher, and just some tid-bit of new information, instruction, or hope to cling to.   Before I knew it, all the psycho-babble, spiritual woo-woo’s, and stream of advice was all beginning to look like cheap, plastic, fixes to a problem that ran much deeper than my spirit seemed to be able to figure out.  Everything from positive mental attitude, to law of attraction, gratitude journals, and I AM statements, and guilt based religious warnings,  bombarded my inbox and life. I am suffering greatly from a severe overdose of spirituality overload. It too has become an addiction.  When the first blush of the honeymoon wore off, they all came tumbling off their pedestal and I banished many of them to the land of Oz along with that other great and powerful charlatan. I became convinced their tricks really were designed to line already deep pockets; while out of the other side of their mouths, they professed a desire to share their knowledge, serve, and improve the lives of others.... For a mere $199.00, for starters that is; for the online course, or the latest download, or book.  You too could find your value and self-worth, pursue your passion, experience bliss and become peace.   Hmmm... I thought, maybe that age old adage, you have to have money, to make money, applies to the propagation of the gifts of the spirit too. Only the wealthy could immerse themselves in a cruise along with Dr. Wayne Dyer, or a week at Omega Institute with the finest in the self-help, personal growth and improvement industry. The less financially abundant among us had to sort of scramble for the crumbs at the feet of the rich enlightened; scotch-taping our own programs together. And the fear based warnings abounded.... Your thoughts create your reality, believe as I or burn in hell, forgive now or suffer. When you're in the midst of hopelessness, these are not helpful.  I've crashed and burned on the altar of the spiritual movement. I know I will experience a rebirth, but for now, I am not interested in anymore techniques for inviting the happiness fairy into my life. It just is not that simple.  At least for the average Joe (me).    

This recent malaise was especially disturbing to me, knowing I have spent the greater part of the last several years accomplishing some long overdue healing, forgiving, and growing into my own skin and authenticity. It was euphoric!  Frankly, I thought, it was about time to reap the rewards of my concentration and inner work. For a long while there,  I really thought I arrived, discovering a new serenity I had never really known.   Was it all for naught now?  Why is my only motivation to leave the couch now revolving around what is for dinner, prepared and eaten (where else) on the couch.  Why has my daily plans for great accomplishments wound up to be the pipe dream of the day? 

I am depressed, and I didn’t even realize it. There I’ve said it.  That’s the important part.  No hiding out behind a facade of I’ve got it all togetherness.   Some unfinished business to address, hanging out since November of last year I think, and all the law of attraction and visualization, and prayers aren’t what’s called for now.  A little honesty perhaps, and sharing my secret. Here is the secret...I am overwhelmed and lost and don't know what Plan B is.    

I suppose, all that spiritual work in the last four years, did help in that I had an out of body kind of experience last week, (don't get all freaky on me here - it's just a bit of a metaphor), peering at myself from across the room, an impartial observer. This spirit me, silently checking out the human me, being slowly spoon fed all kinds of nonsense, and chastised by my ego for all the things I haven't accomplished yet and have worked so hard at, yet, simply can't seem to manage to kick-start. The ego sneers, "See, I tried to tell you weren't worthy, and you certainly aren't any good. If you were, you wouldn't be in this position."    How did this happen?  Why didn’t I see the signs? What were the clues I was spiraling down? 

I don’t drink anymore. I gave up that coping mechanism about 25 years ago.  I don’t use drugs.  They scare me too much.  I even quit taking my cholesterol medication.   But, mindlessly shoveling food and snacks into my mouth was comforting, until the next day and my pants wouldn’t zip.  Cruising the dating sites and superficially connecting with men whose little online green light was lit up 24-7, engaging in thought provoking chat that went something like this.  HIM:  Hey.  ME:  Hey. HIM: You're hot.  ME:  Ummm...Thanks?  HIM:  Here's my phone number, call me.  ME: WTF???   That felt good for about a minute.  Numbing out to old episodes of Scandal and Downton Abbey (and Super Soul Sunday) was great;  but I never really saw them, as I would find myself dozing off in the midst.  Tired.  Just tired.   Eventually, I discovered it was becoming increasingly difficult to even begin to think about checking off the growing list of tasks, even the imminent ones, like diligently making an effort to find the means to take care of my most basic human needs; like heat and shelter. I was okay on the food front.  That seemed to be in abundance. My pants told the story.

I’m not good at telling people when I’m drowning. I have an image to protect; the Goddess of Zendom (a legend in my own mind). Besides, everyone has their share of life smacking them upside the head too, and no one seems much interested in a “Negative Nelly” even if the feelings are authentic.  No one seems to care much about authentic these days either.  It’s all about appearances.  We put our fingers inside our ears and sing-song, “I can’t really hear you.....” mumbling something about including people in prayers and scurrying off to avoid actually feeling some authentic empathy or lending a  helping hand or ear.  This seems to be how we deal with others pain or suffering. Send 'em a text, or Facebook sentiment.  People, c'mon we all just want to be SEEN and HEARD and accepted, as we are... in that moment, not dismissed with trivia.   Worse yet, comparative suffering is used as a method to put you in your place about how much better off you are than the guy that has cancer, or whose child was killed by a gunman in a classroom. If we have even a modicum of empathy, we feel this too, so, our little sufferings, we hold inside.  I love that term “comparative suffering”, a phrase Dr. Brene’ Brown used on a recent Super Soul Sunday.  I apparently was awake long enough to hear
those words.  Those little sufferings add up.  A young teen from my small community killed himself two weeks ago. It was heartbreaking.  I am sure he didn’t share his pain, whether it was a girlfriend who dumped him, or grade issues, or he didn’t make the football team.  Tragically, whatever he felt, that pain was enough to drive him to take his own life.   It doesn’t seem to be acceptable to open up and share with others how you REALLY feel; overwhelmed, hurt, angry, scared, less-than, and it appears that’s the message we are even sending to our children.  

I’m here to break that pattern. Being vulnerable. Silence is not always golden and secrets make us sicker and sicker.  We aren’t always going to be filled with joy and gratitude, even when we try our best. Our current reality cannot always be whisked away by positive affirmations, happy faces, and leprechauns jumping over rainbows.  The odds are much better of returning to a place of peace, especially if we give ourselves permission to feel crummy when bad things happen, even little bad things.   The best technique for beginning to break out of depression is to open up about it. Share with another. We were created to help one another. Odds are we aren't going to receive a real connection, if we aren't honest about how we are feeling.  If we share with someone who is indifferent, we must  try again until we land on another genuine human being striving for authenticity too. Authentic people attract authentic people. My imaginary (or was it) out of body experience showed me this all began to snowball last November when a series of events really crushed me: made me question the integrity of some, the cruelty of others, the outright criminal mentality that decimated the lives of my loved ones for a time, and the indifference of still others.  The world is unfair and a cruel place sometimes, and no addiction, or other numbing technique will ever take it away.  It just lies there, in wait, knowing it will eventually hog tie you if it goes on long enough.  Trying to fake it and keep smiling didn't really work well either.  But, being authentic, and honest, and sharing does. So, I did, finally.  And, I  continue to do so.  I may not be alright right now.  But, I will be. All my, numbing, escapism, and plastic fixes are beginning to fall away.  
Beep..........I’m sorry, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm is temporarily out of the office.  She is taking a sabbatical from food, wizard of oz men, hours of television, surfing the internet, blatant inauthenticity, and the vast majority of self-help/religiousity/ spirituality practices, for now. It's time to go a little dark for awhile.  I'm holding on to a few things I know work best for me.  I'm keeping it simple; exercise, prayer, meditation and even honest, authentic connection with my Creator.  Rebecca is not going to smile when she doesn’t feel like it.  No more pretending her way out of suffering. She will cry, share, beat a pillow with her fists, and show you who she is instead of playing make believe.   She will be spending her time connecting with other real people and nature, fervently pursuing earning an honest days living, telling the truth about how she is feeling, even if SHE feels she shouldn’t be feeling that way.... whew. She will be taking incremental BABY STEPS towards the change her heart yearns for.  Some days the only thing on that to do list, for now, just might be starting out the day with the simple prayer - I turn my will and life over to the care of God as I understand him and then... JUST DO THAT.   

Authenticity DOES NOT always = joy. It can be scary.  But, it sure builds our courage muscles, makes for a more meaningful, honest life, as well as better relationships with others and the world, and eventually (hopefully) leads to true inner peace.