Have you been feeling like I’ve been feeling? Like there's something wrong with you?
I shared my honest truth with a new friend the other day, and she wrote back, “right there with you.” So I knew I wasn’t alone. And for a moment, it helped. Maybe this will help you, too.
I told her I was depressed. Or struggling to find my way toward the light of acceptance if I can only overcome this low-grade anger I feel. Or maybe it’s just winter. I always forget this time of year that S.A.D. is a thing and too little vitamin D makes life rough. Or it could be the fact that I had no real home since Memorial Day and the few false starts on my bumpy landing back in my home state of New Jersey have left me depleted beyond my usual reserves. Or I'm terrified to be back here while also super excited, too. Or I miss my therapist who died suddenly in June the day after I saw him and we had so much more to do together. Or living openly as a transgender person is harder and scarier and more eye-opening than I anticipated. Or things are hard for my family right now, even though they are better than they were. Or it’s probably also the way that sugar and wheat have crept back into my diet in larger ratios than I know serves me, especially at this time of year.
Underestimating the weight of these real, everyday human concerns and struggles, I keep thinking there’s something wrong with me and I forget that life gives us many reasons to give over to cynicism and resignation every day. We all have these reasons, some of us more or differently than others. But we all struggle.
Well, I’ve been feeling cynical and resigned and jaded and generally irritable about myself and most of humanity right now. I feel annoyed. I feel frustrated. I feel concerned. I feel so incredibly sad.
With the daily news reports, most of which I only catch in glimpses these days from Instagram or Facebook feeds because I gave away my prized 36” screen tv back in September of 2015, I’ve noticed this persistent feeling of being punished. And I don't like how it feels so anger is a nice defense when sad or frustrated or confused run their course. Anger can rush in to make me feel like I'm in control over things that I really can't and probably truly shouldn't try to control. Does anger do that for you, too?
But it's how I feel. Like I’m being punished. I feel stripped or depleted of something that I once associated with joy and fulfillment. I’ve been looking for meaning and purpose and sometimes find shards but more often than not I'm coming up with more reasons to worry that we’ve lost our collective minds in a frenzy of greed and self-absorption.
We care more about virtual currency than actual reality (to some it's the same thing!).
We can't sit two minutes without reaching for the damn gadgets.
The planet has worse asthma than I did as a kid. The glaciers are melting.
The oceans contain massive islands of floating plastic.
People are talking about sexuality like feminism was never a thing in the 70s (where have y’all been?) and leaving LGBTQ individuals out of the conversation in ways that are startling ironic since we’re the whole reason you’re even liberated from your heteronormative straightjackets of gender roles and performance.
And that’s what’s wrong with me, I think. I feel like all my searches for truth and meaning have revealed the true state of things and it isn't what I thought it would be when I found it. I'm going through some discouragement. Are you?
Because I feel like I voted for something that wasn’t the reflected mirror of our collective consciousness as a nation right now but I got fooled because that is what (not who) is seated in our most prestigious seat of elected government leadership. Now is the time for this life lesson. And when I try to remember that it’s reality and not another reality tv show, I grip whatever is near me, be it a countertop or another person, and feel a little nauseous.
I didn't see this phase coming. When I left Vermont after an extended, much-needed retreat I was feeling pretty optimistic about life. And then my therapist of 10 years died suddenly and his death was one in a long line that included my own, in a manner of speaking, and I just sort of threw up my hands. I surrendered to the path or process that's running its course right now. I am optimistic about where it's headed, actually. I don't feel the way I used to feel and I'm not the person I used to be. And in general, it's a really good thing.
But for right now my real honest truth is that my appetite is MIA pretty much all the time. I don’t want to watch movies about suffering and catharsis like I used to. I can’t listen to music about love and loss. I find it hard to be around people who either seem to be walking around in a zombie-like state of compassion fatigue or privileged delusion or complaining incessantly about what seem to me to be the most mundane concerns, focusing on their own self-absorption expressed in their lack of self-responsibility. Some just complain because a complaint-dominated narrative is all they know and they confuse it with social justice and allyship when all it does is contribute more negativity to the whole kit and kaboodle. Yikes.
We’ve seated ourselves in that House and this is our reckoning. This is what's wrong with us.
It’s taking a lot to ride it out but it helps me to see it from that perspective, which is what I choose over the alternatives. Just like behavioral change in an individual, regression is essential for more progression. This state of affairs is our collective regression to move forward.
This mindset inspires me again when I worry that I’ve lost my empathy. It frightens me and I worry about who I’ve become from incessant trauma and stigma and stereotyping and cultural chaos and how the hormones have altered my body chemistry so much that cynical retorts fall out of my mouth faster than tears from my eyes.
I miss the catharsis of crying. It helped in ways I’ve forgotten how to feel these five years.
I spend so much time dissociated as a form of self-protection, I long to feel related again. But my self-awareness is at such a depth that what feels like drowning is probably really the submersion of my spirit and soul so I can surface with more treasures than I would have ever known as the person I was before. From what I read and learned from the masters, this feels right and true.
Does that resonate with you, too? Like perhaps we’re being burned down to rise up like a phoenix from the ashes of our former selves, individually and collectively? This is what's wrong with us and this is transformation in action, as lived.
I think the pervasive depressed state is the destruction of our egos for our better selves to emerge. And the seeming collective suffering will yield to the chaos of change eventually and we’ll all feel and fare better for it in ways the wisest masters predict.
Or maybe I just need to eat less sugar.
I’ll try that and also keep striving to be patient and contribute in compassionate and meaningful ways toward this collective consciousness thing and you do you and then let’s compare notes.