So it turns out that that little photo I ran on my last post—of the moon rising in my gloom—was pretty apt. Writing that little piece of honesty about my depression and my struggles did something important: it allowed me to submit, to drop to my knees at last. And we all know what comes after that (even though we resist this simple truth; we try not to yield, we fight instead of giving in): After we fully accept that we are struggling, we begin again. It’s as simple as that. The moon rises into the dark, as it always does.
After writing that post, I went to the gym. I did my work. I didn’t have a glass of wine. I got enough sleep. But the biggest shift was that I felt loving and compassionate toward myself for the first time in weeks, because of the compassion all of you were able to point at me. But also because, in writing the post, I let go of my false strength, once again.
It’s a curse to be “strong.” That trait (and yes, that gift) can keep me in a rock-hard place when circumstances demand that I wail and rend my clothes. I’m not someone who experiences much fear; instead I feel a blankness and steely resolve. But along with that resolve comes self-cruelty, disgust that underneath my strength I might be hurting, mewling. It seems so obvious to me that we all must keep on keeping on, regardless of our struggles, that I often forget that allowing the exhale and the tears is part of being strong, too. Strength and vulnerability are forever tied together, as my smart friend Rob wrote in the comments to that post. That balance is what keeps us from turning into unfeeling creatures, lost to the poignant, aching beauty of life as a human being.
I stumbled across this quote on my Facebook wall today (thank you Daisy Hickman!), from Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet, long a source of inspiration and wisdom for me.
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
And so I set aside my imitation of a hulking rock (unreachable and solid), and instead decide to be massive and seared with scars. The scars are my story, written on my being, and I am honored to carry them.