I just have to come out with it.
I've been depressed.
I said it.
I wear a smile, I show up, I love, I bathe and sleep, I read and I listen and I share and exercise.
If I do all of these things, I can't be depressed, right?
Colleagues see it in seconds.
"Jen, you alright? You seem 'heavy' today."
The cause? The futility of it all.
Wanting to write jokes. Theater. But what is funny in all of this!?
I sit in overwhelm.
I have a Sam Smith song screaming inside of me that I want to share, yet I shhhhhsh it.
Who do you think you are?
People might respond and yell at you.
You want that responsibility?
I believe that each of us are used by God to express God's self.
The Divinity within me begs that I say what I see.
The Human in me fears the onslaught of criticism. Or Praise.
The moments of audacity that have leaked out along the way impress people.
The audacity to move across the country alone.
To get on stage; get sober; say a few bold things; work in a jail.
I assure you. This is only the tip of my iceberg.
I have been depressed, and I know I'm not alone.
I keep trying to climb out of it without saying it out loud.
Every one is busy and going through their own stuff in their own lives, I don't want to 'bother them with me', I think. So I keep imagining it will go away if I just do one more thing on my to do list. So I do more.
I hear my mother, all my life, "Jenny, why can't you JUST BE?"
Because there is so much HURT in the world. I can feel it to my core!
I don't know. So I exert more effort.
I listen harder to the man in my class who is back in jail for the 5th time and I try to hear the progress he's made in spite of the statistic he's become. I pretend that addiction is his problem as I watch his broken heart lie to me, veiled in what he believes is truth-telling.
I listen closely for any shred of logic hidden near the emotional non sequitur that his childhood trauma insists he stay cloaked in to survive. Deflect, project, pretend. I pray for forgiveness as I do my job and write up court-recognized 'progress reports' for a spirit's journey to healing as it is forced to identify by a PFN number. I ignore my hearts resistance as I'm asked to enter grades for the participation of people who sometimes can't spell but exhibit remarkable courage by trying. I am asked to grade the experience of someones cry for help.
I pray for forgiveness as I work within a system I abhor and respond to a broken heart with "tools" to change his thinking. I know a mind can't change if a spirit is broken. A spirit can't feel safe unless a heart feels loved. I am forbidden to touch my students. But I do. Even though some call my touch White Privilege. I appreciate the concept AND I will not allow this world's constructs to stifle Love's expression. Call me what you will.
So I love, and I connect and I listen to the lies that their damage can't stop telling and I pray for the day that the little boy inside will remember that he is lovable. He may rarely have been loveED, but he is inherently loveABLE. In spite of being molested or raped or shot at or shot. In spite of taking needles out of his dead parents vein as a child before calling 911. In spite of being raised by grandparents or being told who they can have loyalty to and who they may not. Despite all of the misinformation and misguidance and abuse, I see Love in them. So I look for vestiges of hope in their despair.
And I find hope anyway. I find it. I see silver linings. I find gratitude in wreckage. I have to. Because I am a helper. Always have been from before I understood that there was such a thing.
When you have nothing to lose, ya might as well look through tragedy to find HOPE, yeah?
It can be overwhelming when we look at the news and see all of the natural disasters and mass shootings and inner city homicides. Overwhelming. But we cannot give up on LOVE.
We cannot give up on HOPE. On LOVE.
LOVE is all there is.
I really think so.
Sometimes I wonder "Why am I even trying! There are too many horrible things going on! People are hurting and angry and oppressed and insecure and stuck in self-defeating narratives. Why am I even trying to make a difference?"
And then dear friends like Noreen Johnson remind me of the Starfish. Don't give up on LOVE.