“Depression is a distant early warning system that something in you is being pressed down, beat on, kept in prison, dishonored.” ~Sam Keen
Sandra is depressed and it’s because she’s been dishonoring herself for a long time.
Although she despises her job, she forces herself to tolerate it. Not only is it unrewarding, the pressure and the demands are unrelenting. What’s more, she yearns to move back to Maine where she had a fulfilling job and a close and supportive circle of friends. She also had the ocean. It was within walking distance, and brought her unparalleled serenity.
“My soul was happy there,” she said while fighting back tears. “I’m grieving over the life I feel I’ve lost.”
Sandra doesn’t question her decision to uproot from Maine. Her aging parents needed her, and she was their sole source of care. “I couldn’t betray them,” she said. “I told myself it would only be for a few years.”
They’ve since passed on . . . several years ago, in fact. So why hasn’t she returned to Maine?
Blame it on the lure of security and the paralysis of fear.
Though she hates her job, it provides a steady income, insurance, and growing retirement benefits. She tells herself it wouldn’t be practical to venture off to a place she hasn’t called home for 15 years. Too risky. But that form of reasoning doesn’t pacify her soul’s yearnings. Why? Because souls don’t and can’t live in that “ought-to” world.
Although Sandra couldn’t bear the thought of betraying her parents, she’s been betraying herself for years. She’s guilty of surrendering to a settled-in existence.
Our comfort zones don’t cultivate happiness. If anything, they can be a recipe for depression. Our soul is constantly letting us know when something doesn’t feel right. Will we listen to that voice or the voice of fear, familiarity and the dozen “ought-to” messages that hound us every day? That’s the challenge.
In our session, I asked Sandra to close her eyes and imagine her sadness as a separate entity sitting across from her.
“What is sadness saying to you?” I asked.
Her face grew solemn. After a long pause her sadness–emanating from the core of her being–told her this:
“I feel sad because you gave up on me. You knew what I needed and you gave up. You didn’t take the energy to do what you needed to do. You retreated and you keep retreating more and more.”
Impressive. Sandra’s soul is summoning her to leave the tomb of settledness and head in the direction of her passion.
Giving her sadness a voice allowed Sandra to finally recognize the true cost of playing it safe. She’s learning that her depression won’t magically disappear, nor should it. It’s sending her a very important message. The only thing that will work is taking control of her life–managing it from a space of courage and love for herself instead of fear.
“We’d all like a guarantee before making a decision or taking a risk, but the irony is that taking the risk is what opens us to our fate.” ~Mark Nepo
Names are changed to honor client confidentiality.
(c) Salee Reese 2019