The last time she visited a therapist (and I use that term loosely), she was given the news that she qualified for nine different diagnoses. “That almost beats my record!” her goon of a therapist joked.
This woman wrote to me saying, that though she’s been in and out of therapists’ offices for the last ten or so years, in rehab, on and off medications, she’d recently had a moment, deep in contemplation of what was “wrong” with her, when suddenly a voice piped in, asking, “Says who?”
She’d heard me speak about the crisis of consciousness I believe we’re all in, and wrote to say, vulnerably, that she thought her questions and seeking might actually be of a spiritual nature rather than a psychological one, though she didn’t really know what that meant.
I reached across the table, put my hand on her arm and said, “I think you’re absolutely right. There is nothing wrong with you.”
Her eyes welled with tears and she told me with trembling chin that no one had ever told her there was nothing wrong with her.
Of course not. People have been telling her (and maybe they have been telling you), “How you feel is making me uncomfortable. Please be different so I can feel better.”
A caveat: I am not a psychologist. My opinion is just mine. Please don’t take anything I’m about to say (or what anyone says, for that matter) as a more accurate indicator of your needs than what you feel to be true for yourself. You should absolutely, without doubt, seek professional help if you feel unable to find equilibrium by yourself. There is no shame in it — asking for help is brave and we just gotta.
Some time back, I was speaking to a medicine woman friend of mine about another friend of mine. My friend was suffering a great deal: deeply unhappy, angry, and self-sabotaging with weed and drinking and all kinds of self-betrayal. He was surrounded by people who were never gonna look him in the eye and be like, “Bro. You don’t seem okay,” because they were suffering, too, and when we’re suffering — and intent on remaining unconscious of it — the last thing we want to is to hang out with someone who has their shit together.
This medicine woman friend of mine said what I sensed was probably true for my self-sabotaging friend: “He’s a displaced medicine person.”
Here’s what that means: The world is insane. We have decided that “happiness” is a thing that can be measured and dispelled and acquired, rather than lived. We’re domesticated within an inch of our lives, praised for “good” behavior and punished for “bad” behavior; we’re corralled like animals into tiny mental spaces, and cut off entirely from our instinctual, spiritual, heart-centered selves.
In fact, “spiritual” has become a bunk term, and (some) people are afraid to even utter it out loud because of what it “means” and what people will think.
But some of us, without realizing it, have medicine spirits we’re dangerously cut off from. This dissociation from our true nature — without the understanding of how to seek and claim it — is literally killing us, and, I believe, creating all kinds of malady in the form of mental illness and physical ailment.
We’re like heavy metal balls in a pinball machine, unconsciously being thrown from this sparkly thing to that sparkly thing, setting off bells and lights and getting points for successfully navigating that ramp and doing that thing — but often with a foreboding sense of heaviness and chaos, and the feeling that we are being catapulted through space, totally out of control of our lives, but sensing that this is not how we are meant to live.
The medicine person is a light-bringer. Their path is a spiritual one. When a medicine person is unable to live in their relationship with — and feel the guidance of — Spirit, what results are people who will do anything to numb the ache of discontent that is an inexorable part of living out of alignment with the Soul.
It’s my belief that, though we’re all evolving in our own sacred way and our own divine timing, none of us are more “spiritual” than others. But as Michael Beckwith says, “When you can, there is a mandate from the Universe that you must.”
We must cultivate our consciousness; this is the unavoidable cosmic mandate.
As a point of reference, this displaced-medicine-person friend of mine recently told me, though he’d resisted it for years, he feels his life calling him a spiritual path. He discovered that his attempts to numb the gnawing unhappiness — and his subsequent coping mechanisms — were sending him into spin-outs. He had also discovered, however, that armed with spiritual purpose, he found himself immeasurably happy, deeply satisfied, and incredibly peaceful. He left a job he hated and had released relationships that he’d been grasping because he hadn’t known he could be satisfied without them — thriving, even.
I told my client all this. And I am telling you all this:
You’re not crazy.
You might just be aware of how crazy you feel being out of alignment with yourself.
And listen: you don’t have to go live in an ashram. You don’t even have to use the word “spiritual”; it is, after all, just a word, and just one of the words that has been co-opted by religiosity and fundamentalism.
But I promise: when we begin retracting our death-grip on happiness which seems externally-sourced, and placed our attention inward, we come to identify the myriad ways we’ve been living mostly to avoid rocking the boat or being uncomfortable — even if what is uncomfortable is that who we are / what we do / what we want is making other people uncomfortable.
The ego will arm itself with all the ammunition it needs to stay in control. (All you need as proof of this is to observe the contents of your mind for approximately 38 seconds any day of the week. It’s a mad house in there!) So long as it is in control, we remain under its power. And so long as we remain under its power, we are power-less to live authentically.
Here’s the secret:
What we want won’t actually make us happy.
(But the open-hearted surrender that accompanies the willingness to receive will.)
Surrender is the only state of being in which the ego no longer has jurisdiction.
Surrender is where we come into contact with the Soul.
Through my own experiences, and being part of the inner worlds of my clients and fellow precious humans, I’ve come to believe that what we’re really craving is to just be. We want to feel okay. We want to wake up and know that our lives are being put to good use. We want to release the compartmentalization of ourselves that we’ve been keeping up in order to survive.
We want our bank accounts to feel comfortable. We want our partners to get it. We want that crazy bitch to stop being crazy. We want to feel the feels and need the needs and feel the pressure in our chests dissipate and never come back.
We want everything — including ourselves — to be different.
Very few of us have had the experience of being enough (to our parents / primary care-givers / bosses / teachers / the world), and are thusly (thusly?) operating in a belief that where (and who) we are is not enough. And of course it doesn’t feel like enough! The world is full of unhappy, medicated zombies who just want to “feel better” and so they’re tripping over themselves trying to manipulate All That Is into being something that, for them, in that moment in time (which will change, and so will they, but hey: fuck it, let’s go to the bar!) will create the illusion of peace.
These are the people who are telling you what you should do, who you should be, how you should feel, when you should feel, what you should want, where you should buy your groceries… Etcetera, etcetera.
Do you see how insane this is?!
It’s insane because, actually, we are grieving — and grief of losing ourselves is a tragedy we don’t know how to make right. It feels like madness because it is madness; and it’s manic, busy and illusory, and we have constructed our whole lives around a fantasy that has been created for us.
Peace is simply the emergence of true Self,
and following the guidance that arises.
It is not a guidance that seeks to control or manipulate.
It requires only to be.
Being is enough for the Soul that is free.
So. Are you depressed? Maybe. But maybe you’re not. Maybe your Spirit is seeking solace in a world gone mad, and you are being called deeper into yourself than you have previously thought you could go. Maybe you’re constantly getting sick, or you’re broke, or you’re overweight, or you’re stuck because your attention is hooked in a set of circumstances — and limiting beliefs about yourself — that, actually, are illuminated in possibility. Maybe Spirit is calling on you to seek the truth buried beneath the rubble.
Who’s to say everything you’ve been will continue to be everything you will be? Only you, beautiful. Only you.
*I am aware this is grammatically incorrect. Says whom, for the word nerds among us. My OCD bows to yours.