Breaching is my favorite part of diving.
As a kid in my family's pool, I loved the diving board but rarely chose the surface-skimming technique of speed swimmers.
Shallow dives are just so damn boring: that's all.
Instead, I'd catapult myself to the highest possible altitude, jackknife my body to touch my toes, flick my pointed legs skyward so I could enter the water at a 90 degree angle, and bee-line through eight feet of water to the pool's bottom.
Using velocity to counteract my buoyancy, I'd plant my hands on the dark blue vinyl by the pool filter in the deep-end, use my downward momentum to position my feet directly below my hips in a powerful squat, and wait.
There is only a fraction of a second in between when our downward motion neutralizes and when our bodies begin to float slowly, pathetically, and inefficiently towards the surface.
That split second makes the difference: will I seize it, expending every molecule of my remaining oxygen to push powerfully from the bottom and explode from those depths, a human bullet toward the bright light glittering above me, crescendoing fast enough through the surface of the water as if to suggest that I just might be able to walk on it?
Or will I miss the chance to spring? Will I spring too late, my feet pushing against nothing, my body flailing feebly until I (hopefully) come gasping for air at the water's surface?
When you hit bottom, my loves, please spring.
I do not want to tell you the things I am about to tell you. I would much prefer to use this blog for the bright side of light-catching. The shiny bits. I think you're all smart enough to read between the lines and know that light-catching is my way of thwarting off darkness, but I don't like to talk about the dark because I don't want to identify with it.
I don't want IT to identify ME.
But maybe there's a better way of looking at it. Maybe it does define me…but in a good way.
There is a word that begins with D-E-P-R and ends with E-S-S-E-D. I've never had a shred of interest as to whether a professional might diagnose me with that word, and frankly, the professionals who HAVE tossed it around over the last 17 years have induced a deep-rooted (but suppressed) desire within me to show them my longest finger. Both of my longest fingers.
Friends: make a mental note. When you have that kind of reaction to a label, it might be worth examining.
So let's do it: let's examine this shiznit.
The last month has been one of my most difficult within recollection.
I've been in a deep, dark and scary rut of suffocating sadness. The kind of sadness that sits on your chest, whispers hurtful things in your ear, and slaps you--hard--while you are crying. The kind of sadness that makes everything seem so difficult. For example, you may wish someone could just provide rescue breaths and chest compressions for a little while so you wouldn't need to put so much THOUGHT into keeping your own godforlovin' HEART functioning.
Thanks be to family and thanks be to self-care, I am emerging from that dark place.
Even as I type that description of my sadness, I feel dissociated from it. I know the words are true because I made mental notes just weeks ago, but it's as if my words are describing someone else's experience--not my own.
That's a good thing, because it means I am not in that place now.
The disconnection is also a noteworthy thing, because I suspect I might be dissociating from it ON PURPOSE.
A (lying liar) part of me believes I cannot be the fully kind, loving, thoughtful, light-shining person I want to be so long as the dark is also a part of me. As if a sliver of dark could negate an abundance of light!
The lying liar may be lying, but it is also a deeply convincing liar.
When I tap into the truth, here's what I find: the things I DO like about myself--my courage, my perseverance, my strength, my humor, my passion, my kindness, my authenticity, my optimism--these are all FUELED by my dark. These are the tools that have pulled me from the depths of my dives, and they're the tools I use to kick darkness in the face when it nips at my heels.
My dark strengthens my light.
I needn't DISOWN my dark. NO! I can OWN it, INTEGRATE it, wear it as an ornamental headpiece of the dragon I have slain.
Jenna Hall recently said that people can only love you through what you show them.
Isn't this one of the fundamental struggles of humanity? We yearn so deeply to be seen but we are so afraid to show ourselves.
I see this when I am photographing clients, I see it in my own journey, I see it on Facebook, I see it everywhere.
It's so scary to be seen.
Jenna's comment applies as much to receiving love from others as it applies to loving ourselves: how can we LOVE all parts of ourselves if we won't ACKNOWLEDGE all parts of ourselves?
The good thing about hitting a super-low is that it forces us to make changes in areas we've been ignoring. When you find yourself sinking and blinking through weighted water that threatens to suffocate you, you have two choices, homefries: Move or Die*.
My most recent deep-water dive has forced me to make some important changes. It's forced me to make adjustments in areas I would have kept ignoring if I hadn't fallen: things like work load, husband time, medicine, exercise, sleep, my willingness to say "no" to commitments and "yes" to down time, my openness to considering more child-care, etc.
Sometimes, you've got to get down to get up.
Thanks to these adjustments, my downward movement has neutralized and I have planted my feet and hands at the bottom of that abyss. The final step I needed to take in order to get my hips into proper springing position was to own the parts of me I wanted to reject. I needed to let myself be seen: by me and by you.
Writing on these internets always helps me to see myself a bit more clearly.
My feet and hips are planted. I'm gonna spring.
Watch me breach.
*This "move or die" thing may have sounded more dramatic than I intended it. I meant it in the metaphorical sense of drowning and in the literal sense that our potential happiness dies when we don't take care of ourselves.
Considering death is a very real component of deep depression, so it's important that we don't brush this off lightly.
If you are in a place where dying feels like your only option, please forget all of these freaking "springing" and "breaching" metaphors and just call a professional...now.
Who knows: maybe if this funk of mine had lasted long enough, I could have gotten to that place myself. Aint no shame in that game.
Do grab a lifeline. And hold on tight.
All is good here, folks. I am about to breach. :)
Please, though: do me a favor. Allow yourself to be seen today. Even in a very small way.
Maybe someone who loves you needs to see something you're struggling with so s/he can love you through it.
Or maybe you need to acknowledge something about yourself so you can learn to love it.
That would be nice.
If you're at the bottom of the abyss, dear friend--I beg you: move--spring--breach--now.