Today I started my day sitting in my front yard feeling despair wash over me. Lately, I've been carrying this despair with me to therapy and asking my therapist to be witness to this specific facet of despair. I have a diamond of despair within me, and this is one facet shimmering in the light.
It's been a long time building up capacity to feel this in me. In fact, it's been generations in the making. This body, this spirit, this soul, this manifestation of my family tree is the place where it's finally ready to be felt.
I slunk down to the grass, melting off my front yard bench, and put one hand on the grass and one hand on my heart. It was almost unbearable yet so subtle as to be criminal. kicking rage in my belly telling me to just go inside, watch youtube, and give up on this shit. I said, "Yes, that's what I've been doing because there has been no human way to feel this for thousands of years. This is a one thousand year old pain."
It's important to know when your pain is ancient and not just yours.
I started to notice the patterns. Whenever I loose a job or transitioned to a new life phase, I SPIRAL. I'm not talking little tiny spiral but depths of the soul total hell gaping bullet wound festering gangrene soldier wounded and abandoned gasping in a heap under bodies spiral.
There are words like spells that run through our families. Little matrixes. Powerful powerful prisons defining our cells. I grew up hearing my mom say, "I'm a big fat failure". If I visit her tomorrow, I'm sure a week wouldn't go by without me hearing that.
Our little bodies and souls take on those family imprints, and every child seems to take on a different variety of family stories.
I hadn't realized that this was the imprint I had taken on, nor had I realized that it was an ancient story. Not just my doing or undoing.
Listening to my body and brain, I began to hear the little matrix of words, "I'm a big fat failure". It took me back. When I told my therapist, I literally belly laughed and ROARED, "That's not even how I talk to myself." And she said the same, "I can't even see you talking to yourself that way. That's not YOU!!" (loose quotes, of course).
Suddenly, I feel less shame. Less shame for sitting around watching 4 hours of youtube a day while I tornado spiral into a despair so unseemly you'd run at the first sight of storm clouds hovering over Florida hurricane coasts.
My great grandpa was a creative genius, an inventor. His invention was stolen out from under him. From what I've heard, his invention is still in use today, but he was left without a cent from it.
My grandpa was an architect, wildly creative and horrifically depressed. Capitalism machines took over the architecture industry and put him out of a job. He was left jobless, without a place to express his creativity and never found a way back into the dog eat dog world. In fact, I don't think he was meant to express himself in a culture of dog eat dog workplace. I know I cannot. It's against my very spirit/soul.
Because of his loss and insurmountable grief, his family was houseless. They were forced to live with my moms grandparents. Every weekend, they'd drive around looking at all the Victorian Ohio homes admiring them and critiquing them, but he never found his way back to the heart of them.
My mom was severely traumatized by the displacement and chronic worry for her wellbeing and survival. She married my dad because he was stable. Her brothers are creative geniuses. She failed kindergarten due to undiagnosed dyslexia. She would later be chronically bullied throughout all of junior high and high school for being dumb. But actually, I know....she's a creative genius. Imprinted with the family story of failure and inexpressible grief/trauma from the losses beyond wildest imaginations.
Now, here I am with one hand on the grass and one hand on my heart, knowing that this despair is highly specific and unspeakably broad. Great grandpa, grandpa, and mom are storied in my heart. DESPAIR BLOOMING LIKE A ROARING OCEAN WAVE IN THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE.
I can just barely wrap my heart around it. I'm journaling with a certain violent fury, raging at God almost every day for all that's been taken from me and the impossibility of tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. When all you can see of tomorrow is the same exact today which has always been.
It's boiling rage in my heart like a ticking time bomb telling me to run and escape and drown it in numbing helpers.
It's a sinking anchor belly tied to my foot plunging me into the dark depths of the ocean to the point where I know if I cut the anchor off, I'll die from rising too fast. It's unimaginably enormous.
It's a chest flailing out with a black energy and a collapsed heart chest space. It's the betrayals as dark as hell that twisted my body into contortions and gave me demons instead of sleep. whispering failures and hopelessness instead of lullabies.
It's a throat choked up with nothing to express because it never matters what is expressed, it always stays the same so what's the point?
I really believe that my family faced points in history where there was no point. Where no matter what they did, it was a dead end road of utter poisonous pain and failure just for existing at the wrong time in the wrong world in a culture so grossly sick that it spat them out at ever turn.
Finally to me.
For whatever reason, the universe is whispering, "Feel this now. There's space for you in the world now."
And it takes every bone in my body to feel it.
I can barely type this out. There's a timidity in my fingertips as I sit here saying this, but it's starting to feel like just a part of the waves in my life. Everything is bearable when it's all a part of the waves of the present moment. When you know that this will pass. There will be pain, but the pain will always pass and never remain forever. So, there will also be joy and the joy won't stay fixed and permanent. It too will pass, but it makes everything all the more bearable and that much more exquisite.
In complex PTSD, your body has had very little access to anything resembling waves. The deep dark black lives and breathes through every cell, shaking every membrane, broiling your nervous system into bits, clenching your belly and digestive tract, bracing your legs and feet and head for the abuse to come.......
So the process of feeling and releasing becomes the process of experiencing the waves of life. The ebb and flow. My greatest teacher of waves half the time is just my favorite coffee shop. I started asking myself, "When do I feel immeasurable joy without hardly trying?" It's always been at my favorite coffee shop eating and drinking something delightful. I started to lean hard into noticing the joyous moments, even the moments of numbed out bliss.
Gradually, this has turned into a greater capacity to notice how all of life flows in waves.
This ancient despair has permeated generations of lives and coated my life like an M&M in black hopelessness. Touching the raw fragile helpless wide open beating heart on the operating table of brainspotting, feeling despair, hand-in-grass, witness-me-ness has been "the crack in the door filled with light" (need to breathe).
This is the first time in generations we are coming up for air, and I get to be the one to breathe.
Though, I think in the magic of space/time alchemy, my first baby's breath is a breath for us all. Is a venture back through space and time to resuscitate the frozen limbs of my drifting, broken, destroyed, and ravaged family.
I wonder if any of your chronic "problems" are ancient, and I wonder if this broader reaching perspective would help you see yourself with a little more grace, a lot more wonder, and a shred more courage to help you on your journey.