Monday, June 14

Inspired by a Child's Toy

In Mark 5 of Christian scripture, Jesus heals the Gerasene Demoniac. Being a progressive, symbolic reader of the Bible, I have taken most stories of demoniacs to be indicative of mental illness, undiagnosed and misunderstood. And this is such a weird story! The poor guy, suffering in the tombs with his illness, asks Jesus to leave him alone, crying "Do not torment me!"

Why would you send away the promise of healing? Perhaps there is a point in time when healing no longer seems possible. I can imagine that promise after promise has lifted up hope only to be dashed to the ground. And every drop goes further and further down until the lifting up of hope is too much. One more crash will be sure destruction. Blessedly, Jesus is there for this man and he will not let him go.

Isn't that what we all want? Someone to love us, especially through difficult times? Someone who will refuse to let us go?

Too Much Information
Too Much Information

Recently, I have entered into perimenopause. Nobody told me that this was going to be a special kind of hell. We have been trying to induce perimenopause because estrogen was a prime culprit in a ridiculous amount of fibroid tumors that were making life very difficult (and endometriosis). To eliminate extreme blood loss and pain, a cessation of menstruation seemed like the best bet. So we began tinkering with the hormones. Add a little progesterone here and voila! Perimenopause is induced. Nobody told me that when estrogen drops, serotonin levels drop. When serotonin levels drop, you become MUCH. LESS. HAPPY. Even unto depression. A chemically induced depression that feels like the biggest black pit swarming inside. This is not a good thing.

But thank God, I have people that refuse to let go of me. Because I sure am not feeling it. Doctors that are calling and checking up on me, a husband understanding, my Spiritual Director, and dear friends that just love me. Even though I feel completely unlovable right now. Like the Gerasene Demoniac. I just want to be left alone. But if I was left alone, I would become like him, tearing my clothes apart, staying in my cave, never coming out to talk to the people who love me. I need people that are going to be like Jesus. People that will poke their heads in the cave and yell at the demon! Lovingly, of course. Caring about the outcome.

I was reminded earlier this week of the way negative self-talk affects how we feel about ourselves when I sat with my Spiritual Director and we checked in with my body. Part of me, my heart chakra, was saying, "It is time, right now, for an extended vacation. Now! Now! Now!" with shades of Veruca Salt.

The competing voice came straight from my logic center saying, "It is not possible now. Take this moment, this time to be present to all that is and enjoy because you aren't going to get what you want for a while. So shut up and deal with it!"

Yikes! I was being quite mean to myself.

This morning, I lay on my bed, checking in with my centers and seeing what was going on. The blackness of depression was there and I tried to talk with it with limited success. Going too deeply is dangerous, but there is a gift in stirring around the edges and seeing what the heck is going on. Recognizing it is there. Seeing it. Almost like a third party in the room. "I see you. I hear you. I know that you are hurting." What I really want to do is eject this interloper right out of my life, but I can't do that.

I was able to drag myself together enough to do my job and take some young men to the Family Fun Center nearby. And I am glad that I did. I still had the spirit of darkness hovering with me like an unwanted interloper, but I was able to see joy and put it all aside so that I could be present to these young men. They played games, raced cars, and won tickets. Then time to cash in the tickets came. And I saw them...

by Terri Stewart
by Terri Stewart

These were the exact same finger puppets that a teacher, Dr. Alexandra Kovats, gave to her students in one class that I took. Why did we get them? For those moments which were deemed unspeakable or moments that we don't have someone with us. A way to have a full conversation with ourselves so that the scary or cranky part can take on the aspects of a crazy little finger puppet monster.

And now I remember, that the 'other thing' that I talk to within myself doesn't have to be a big black swirly hole. After all, I have the power in my mind (right now) to control the imagery. It can be a small, colorful, crazy finger puppet monster. And so for today, I will hang onto the fact that there are people who love me enough to not let go. And that I have the power to control the dialogue within my body.

"All Love Monster" by Daniele Civello CC License (BY-NC)
"All Love Monster"
by Daniele Civello
CC License (BY-NC)





  • I know all too well what you mean about depression, and I want to affirm in the strongest possible terms what you say about being VERY careful around it. I can’t speak for you or anyone else, but strictly for me, I can say that that is why I have to stay away from things like monotheistic religion, contemplative prayer (directed toward a god … vipassana meditation is just fine), church services … anything that brings me close to any kind of *** GOD-CENTERED *** belief & practice. To me, God is a black hole surrounded by an event horizon of depression. The depression is ALWAYS a sign that I’m getting too close to the Black Hole of god. And I have to use my warp engines to pull away when I do get too close. Those warp engines are an elegantly “fine tuned” & unrelenting skepticism. Also snarky humor / sarcasm. For me, atheism / skepticism is literally a survival mechanism, keeping me from going to or even approaching places into which I dare not venture. I hasten to add: *** I AM FINE NOW *** & have been ever since I learned that god-centered religion is toxic for me.

    Thanks for sharing the struggles with “perimenopause”. I can’t even imagine what that is like. Please do take care of yourself, physically, emotionally, & spiritually. Nothing would compensate for your loss. Ever.


  • BTW I didn’t know you knew Alexandra … though I’m not surprised! She is a rock star IMHO. I remember her “Christian Spirituality” class at STM. We all kept a journal for that class, each one of which she read along toward the end of the quarter. I normally am not a journal-keeper because normally no one is going to read the journal except me. So I can’t get motivated to write. (Yes, this is ME talking!) But because she was going to read it, I just let it all hang out. I journaled my fat ass off. The journal I turned in was, like, 2″ thick & Alexandra said it took her 8 hours straight to read & comment on it. We had lunch & talked about it afterward. My time with Alexandra Kovats is one of the few happy times I had at STM. I hope she is well.

  • Thank goodness you have the power to control anything during peri-menopause (don’t know where the “pause” comes from since it was unrelenting)!
    I whip-lashed between sobbing uncontrollably at dog-food commercials, and irritation bordering on thoughts of inflicting bodily harm to anyone who asked me “how you doing?” I could watch myself doing/thinking/feeling all these uncharacteristic, out-of-control and out-of-proportion thoughts and feelings – I couldn’t stop them. I survived, thanks to medication! The people who wouldn’t “let go of me” finally let go so they could survive!

    Great post – thanks for sharing!

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