Becoming the Parent You Deserved

Yes, I know it’s been too long since I’ve shared my own words.  I promise to do so as soon as I am able.  In the meantime,  I found this from wise and eloquent, Cynthia Occelli.  It spoke to my heart.  I trust that many of you will find comfort in her words.

LIFE by Cynthia Occelli

“Tonight, give yourself what your child-self needed most.  It’s common for a couple of people, usually parents, to be the center of a child’s universe. Inevitably, even the very best parents miss the mark at some point when it comes to meeting a child’s every need.

Sometimes the people who raised us were so broken, wounded, or overwhelmed that they couldn’t meet our needs and instead gave us misinformation about ourselves. We believed it, not because it was true, but because we hadn’t learned to think for ourselves yet.

For some, no one was there at all.

What is done is done, but it’s not too late to get what you needed.

Tonight, be your own parent and tell yourself the truth about you. These truths are universal and apply to every child ever created. This includes you. Suspend all doubt, arguments, and reluctance. Get out of the way and let the truth about you have its way.

You are worthy of every good thing life has to offer. You deserve love, kindness, peace, care, and to have all of your needs met. You matter to all that is and you will never achieve a greater honor, accolade, or achievement than being chosen for LIFE. Never doubt whether you are good enough, YOU ARE. God doesn’t make junk. You are not better than anyone and NO ONE is better than you. You belong here and there is great love for you.

Tonight, I fill my heart with the truth about me. I let it live in me and guide my life.

Sweet dreams.”

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Be Kind to You

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Have been a little under the weather but I found this treasure to share.

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Looking for love and …..

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Below is a timely article that I feel can help all of us wether we are in a partnership or single.

Who’s going to want me?

So much of it all boils down to that, doesn’t it?

Who’s going to want me now that I am _____. Put whatever you want in the blank. Go ahead.

Now that I am: Fatherless. Fat. An orphan. Old. Broken. Divorced. Handicapped. Widowed. Left. No Longer Have Perky Tits. Deaf. An Amputee. An Atheist. Sober. An Alcoholic. Lonely. Honest. Motherless. Childless. With Children. Ugly. Bald. Go ahead, put your word in.

You may wake up one day at 5:33 in the morning and shoot up out of bed as if from a nightmare where your car was flying off a cliff, and you may find yourself once again muttering those words. Who’s going to want me now that I’m dead?

You’re not dead though. You woke from the dream. See, you are sitting right here; your head matted with sweat; the back of your neck hot and cold at the same time, and you are reading these words and nodding along, and you are very much alive.

There’s this line from my favorite Robert Lowell poem, “Night Sweat.” The last line of the poem:

“If I cannot clear the surface of these troubled waters here,

absolve me, help me, Dear Heart, as you bear

this world’s dead weight and cycle on your back”

He wrote about having nothing to write about—a variation on the good old Who will want me is Who will read me.

How much dead weight we carry. Look how much.

My friend Steve Bridges died last year. His sweet little maid found him on his couch, like he’d fallen asleep watching television. She tried to cover him with a blanket at first, until she realized what the reality was. I don’t ever wish that I’d been her that morning, covering Mr. Steve with a Mexican blanket only to realize that, no matter, he’d always stay cold.

She’d worked for him for years. They would sit in his kitchen while she cleaned, and he wrote and laughed, and she laughed, and she loved him. So, when she realized he wasn’t sleeping but dead, her sweet little heart must have stopped, and I would wager a bet it has been beating a little differently since that morning. Perhaps that thought came rushing at her one morning in her own bed—Who’s going to want me now? Who will make me laugh in his kitchen? 

When he died, I kept teaching my yoga classes, but I would have to turn around so that my back faced the class. I would cry and then wipe the tears and tell them to take a vinyasa or do child’s pose. Sometimes, I just let the tears fall because, the truth of the matter is, the people who take my class know who I am; they know how I applaud honesty. They expected nothing less than for me to take him right into class with me that week, and they commended me for my willingness to show them my suffering and heartache, because they had felt it too, and sometimes we actually need to remember that feeling, that raw my gut is ripped out feeling so we wake up.

We all woke up that week or two after he died.

Steve and I hadn’t known each other terribly long. Oh, but we had. (Isn’t that such a yoga teachery thing to say?) We had known each other our whole lives, so when we met, it was not a thing. He started coming on my retreats, and I referred to him as my brother, and he referred to me as his teacher, his agent, his sister, his friend. We loved each other; we did. With Steve, I never felt the ghost of Who’s going to want me now. 

Yes, I am married, but it is beyond that. It is such a cellular level instinct that it goes way behind the logical, the rational, the explainable, all the way to the center of the Earth where it pierces and shrieks.

He listened to me. He saw me in a way few others have ever seen me. When he died, that shriek howled from the depths of the world and knocked me over, right in the middle of the street. It was impossible. Impossible that he was dead. I tried crawling my way through the dirt and mud toward that sound coming from below, but I was stuck, reeling from the explosion. I was stuck. I couldn’t get him back.

Before he died, the last conversation we had, actually, was in Mexico. It was the last day of my retreat, and we sat eye to eye as everyone else took pictures of themselves doing various yoga poses below on the beach. He told me that he wanted a family. He said something to the effect of, “I can’t leave the earth without having a child.” In the movie version, I will insert some foreboding music there so we know it’s foreshadowing and that he will never ever have a child. We should know this when the music plays and the two people sit eye to eye above a Mexican beach as happy as they’ve ever been with such a knowing that the Who’s Going to Want Me Now is so far in the past, because, to have found a tribe like this, nothing could ever go wrong, all was good in the world. All was safe.

I didn’t get over his death, but I kept going. It’s what we do. Someone dies, and you keep going.

That is Choice A. Choice B is you die. I did not die nor did I want to, so I kept going. Eventually, I felt a little less sad because Time, that ruthless beast, does that.

It softens you in some places and, at the same time, ages you and hardens you, but mostly, it dulls the pain. Believe me on this.

If we remembered all our visits to the dentists and all our heartbreaks with clarity, we would have rotting mouths, and we’d all be alone in our rooms watching The Bachelor.

This morning, I popped up at 5:33. I am on England time, so it is eight hours ahead. I popped up, and Who’s going to want me now clamored me over the top of the head. I was reading an article in The New York Timesabout a George Saunder’s book. He is fifty-four and started publishing at thirty-seven. I thought: Oh, ok, good. I’m ok. I am around that age.

But then…

I have not published anything yet. No books, no short stories, no articles. I am Saunders age when he wrote his first book, and what have I done so far? I have been a waitress for decades and now a yoga teacher and, here it is, drumroll, it’s coming: Who Is Going To Want Me Now?

Right over the head like a bat.

I am not looking for advice. I am talking about a deep guttural voice with a trajectory to nowhere that I have to conquer on my own, like I am in a battle zone. And I am. With my life.

I do not know who will want me. I can let that stop me and not write my book and not try to publish it, or I can write it and have a deep knowing that someone will take it, and if they don’t, they don’t. I will then keep going. I will not use it as some sort of empirical proof to say See? See? No one wants me.

Every time someone has left me (there’ve been two major ones), I have questioned who would ever want me again, as if they were the only two men on the planet and I was an untouchable.

Someone did want me. Many did. Not just men and not just sexual. You are reading my words. You want me. But screw all that. Here’s the kick in the pants I was talking about the other day: I want me.

Most days. Most days, I want me, and from there I go. I go from there, armed with my self-love and my husband and my Tribe and my indefatigable urge to write, write, write.

Then there are days, like today, where I wake up and my heart has fallen out and rolled somewhere under the bed next to some old birthday cards and a shoe. I have to crawl around in the dark and move through some dust, but I find it and screw it back in. It happens. It’s bound to do that once in a while because there is some ancient agreement I must have signed long ago before I knew I was signing it. I ripped up the agreement, but there are days when the memory of the signature is strong enough to stop me in my tracks and have me say to myself Just Who Do You Think You Are?

Finally, I am getting to the point.

Who do you think you are? Go back to your blanks. Fat, Legless, Manless, Childless, No Longer Young.

Whatever it was you signed to on that contract, I want you to scribble it out. Get a black magic marker or some other stinky kind of pen and scribble it out at least a hundred times. Then, leave it blank.

You think thirty-eight years old sums you up? You think divorced says it all?

You can’t define yourself in a word. You are a world, Dear Heart.

I’d love to hear below just who you think you are. Be brave. Own it.


Jennifer Pastiloff was recently featured on Good Morning America. She is a yoga teacher, writer, and advocate for children with special needs based in L.A. She is also the creator of Manifestation Yoga® and leads retreats and workshops all over the world. 

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Nothing to say?

I’ve been feeling pushed to write but no suitable subject has come to mind.  Finally it got too uncomfortable not to write so I decided to sit in front of a blank page a few days ago. Bingo! I got it within less than a second.  How many times have you felt that you have nothing to contribute and therefore have kept quiet?

When I was a young adult I carried over the shyness that I felt as a child.  Often I would come upon a situation about which I had a funny or off beat thought. This would happen at large social gatherings, during which I rarely spoke, and even in one on one situations.  I assumed that no one would find my observations funny.  It’s not that I thought I was stupid but certainly others were far more savvy and intelligent. My little comment would serve only to embarrass me and show them all how unsophisticated I was.

I am still very uncomfortable in large groups especially when I know only a few in attendance.  But I am forever grateful to a young woman who was just an acquaintance when we were both at one of those dreaded large parties.  I noticed her looking over at me several times throughout the evening. Late that night she came up to me and said, “When you sit by yourself and don’t speak people will think you are a snob.”  What??!!   That was the direct opposite of how I viewed myself.  How could I be putting out such an impression just by not talking?

I know that this may have been an opinion held only by her but I think she was probably right.  My behavior did not change immediately but her remark started me thinking that perhaps I was sending silent messages that were completely wrong and perhaps disrespectful.

Eventually I started leaking a few comments in what I felt were safe situations. Maybe I just grew into myself.  I don’t know the how of it but, once I started saying what I was thinking, I discovered that most people thought I was funny.  All those quips and comments I’d kept to myself for so many years were actually okay to say out loud!

Of course, some of my comments fall flat but now I see that it doesn’t matter.  Most of the time I get at least a smile and I trust that people realize that I’m not looking down on them by not talking at all.  Being funny opened a door for me and now I converse much more easily in social situations.  I’ve learned that what I have to say matters and that I don’t need to be funny all the time.

Have you ever held back because you thought you had nothing to contribute?  What you have to say can only be said by you for there is only one you.  Even if your ideas are similar to someone else’s your way of speaking about them will be different.  You may be able to say something that a person has heard several times before but missed the meaning until you used your unique way of expressing it.

Kevin Hall puts it eloquently.

“You are an unrepeatable miracle. Your experiences and insights are truly unique. As you travel on your journey, recognize that the footprints you leave on your path are as unique as the path you are walking. Your clear and concise comments are invaluable to those who appear on your path, for ‘when we hold a lantern to light the pathway of our brother or sister, we see more clearly our own.’”


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Light and Shadow

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I’m having some health challenges in the moment and have not been able to write but here is an excellent piece by Dr. Lissa Rankin.  May you find courage and healing in her wise words.

The Vulnerability of Exposing Your Dark Side

“To expose our wounds to people we care about—the icky stuff, the ego stuff, the personal growth edges we’re working on that we haven’t yet mastered—is super vulnerable. Letting others see our “big ugly tails” (hat tip to my dear friend Amy Ahlers, who has seen my big ugly tail and trusted me enough to let me see hers) tends to trigger all our core fears of rejection and abandonment, of withdrawal of love. But to bear witness to someone’s wound is a privilege and an opportunity to deepen the relationship beyond the idealistic views we might have of each other into the real truth of both our light and our shadows.

This doesn’t mean it’s anyone else’s job to baby our “ouchies.” But when we’ve exposed our vulnerable wounds to those we care about and asked, but not expected, them to tread gently around our wounds, we have a choice. We can poke needles into each other’s wounds—because now we know them and, dang it, it’s their dark stuff to work on—or we can choose to put salve on the wounds of those we love (not codependent salve that enables the wound, but more like a gentle touch with lavender oil to make something stinky smell a bit sweeter and to acknowledge the vulnerability and handle it gently).

Love Is Like a Jar Of Marbles

When we have been vulnerable enough to expose those wounds—and own them—and when we then ask those we love to be gentle with our wounds—and they choose to do so—it starts to feel like love. As Brené Brown writes about in her New York Times bestseller Daring Greatlyintimacy is like a jar of marbles. (I wrote about this analogy in more depth here).

The more we expose our vulnerabilities and someone handles our sensitive spots gently, the more marbles we gather in the jar. Trust grows as the jar becomes more full of marbles. But when someone betrays that trust or chooses to stick needles in the wounds of our vulnerability, we lose marbles in the jar. If someone uses our vulnerability against us, we may feel like dumping out the whole jar of marbles. Over time, the strength of the relationship is based on how many marbles are in the jar.

(To listen in as Brené Brown and I dish on vulnerability and how it affects our health, sign up here to receive the recording of our FREE telejam.)

Big Ugly Tails

In a perfect world, we’d all be able to grow past our big ugly tails. But we’re destined to be human this go around, and our dark stuff ain’t going away. Part of what I love about my closest friends is that they’ve all done enough personal growth work that they’re mostly aware of their big ugly tails and are actively working on addressing them. It’s those who are blind to their big ugly tails whom can be challenging to be in relationship with, and we must have compassion for those who are still blind.

But big ugly tails are so easy to judge—both in someone else and in ourselves. When someone else shines a light on our big ugly tails, we may be tempted to run the other direction because it can hurt to look at how blind we’ve been to our big ugly tails. If someone sends us the message that we have an unseen big ugly tail, we may be tempted to kill the messenger.

How Compassion for Our Big Ugly Tails Heals Us

The opposite is also true. If we illuminate a big ugly tail of someone else, we may be tempted to judge that person, to think less, to criticize, to demean, even to reject the person whose big ugly tail we’ve seen. But wouldn’t it be kinder if we treated them gently and with compassion?

When someone exposes his or her big ugly tail to you or when you see your own, this calls for a big, beautiful dose of love, kindness, and abundant compassion. Beating yourself up—or going on the attack with the person whose big ugly tail you’ve witnessed—only deepens the vulnerable wound and leads to fewer marbles in the jar. Instead, seeing big ugly tails—in others or in ourselves—is an opportunity to deepen trust and intimacy with others and to learn how to unconditionally love and accept ourselves, even those parts of ourselves that lead us to feel the poisonous emotion of shame, which not only poisons our minds, it poisons every cell in our bodies by signaling threat emotions in our amygdalas, which, as I describe in Mind Over Medicine, deactivates self-repair mechanisms in our bodies.

If, instead of judging others and ourselves, we can find compassion for the ugly parts in each other and ourselves, we can start to feel more love and intimacy, and these emotions calm our amygdalas, activating the body’s self-repair mechanisms and optimizing the body’s ability to do what it does best—heal itself.

How Light Heals Our Big Ugly Tails

When your big ugly tails are illuminated, there’s nothing you have to do to “fix” them. Big ugly tails do the most damage when we’re blind to them, and they can inadvertently swat around and hurt people without our awareness. We may leave shrapnel in the wake of our big ugly tails, and once you realize this, you may feel even more motivated to hate your big ugly tail, rather than treat it with loving compassion.

But here’s the thing. Once we see our big ugly tails, they automatically start to shrink in the light. Like spooky shadows that disappear when the floodlights flip on, our big ugly tails, once seen, start healing themselves, just like our bodies do when we feel loved and accepted, in spite of our darkness.

My Big Ugly Tail

I don’t think I’ve been gentle enough around other people’s vulnerable wounds, because my big ugly tail is that I have a tendency to get all self-righteous, to make myself “superior” to people once I’ve seen their big ugly tails. I make myself “right” and others “wrong,” and then my ego (I call her Victoria Rochester) convinces me that I shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells around someone else’s stinky wound.

But sometimes walking on eggshells around someone’s raw wound is the perfect opportunity to practice compassion and to demonstrate love.

And that’s my stuff to work on. Maybe someone could put lavender oil on it for me, even if it’s just me being compassionate with this side of myself I’m not so proud of. At least the lights are on, and I’m no longer blind to how I created my own suffering for many years.

“To expose our wounds to people we care about—the icky stuff, the ego stuff, the personal growth edges we’re working on that we haven’t yet mastered—is super vulnerable. Letting others see our “big ugly tails” (hat tip to my dear friend Amy Ahlers, who has seen my big ugly tail and trusted me enough to let me see hers) tends to trigger all our core fears of rejection and abandonment, of withdrawal of love. But to bear witness to someone’s wound is a privilege and an opportunity to deepen the relationship beyond the idealistic views we might have of each other into the real truth of both our light and our shadows.

This doesn’t mean it’s anyone else’s job to baby our “ouchies.” But when we’ve exposed our vulnerable wounds to those we care about and asked, but not expected, them to tread gently around our wounds, we have a choice. We can poke needles into each other’s wounds—because now we know them and, dang it, it’s their dark stuff to work on—or we can choose to put salve on the wounds of those we love (not codependent salve that enables the wound, but more like a gentle touch with lavender oil to make something stinky smell a bit sweeter and to acknowledge the vulnerability and handle it gently).

Love Is Like a Jar Of Marbles

When we have been vulnerable enough to expose those wounds—and own them—and when we then ask those we love to be gentle with our wounds—and they choose to do so—it starts to feel like love. As Brené Brown writes about in her New York Times bestseller Daring Greatlyintimacy is like a jar of marbles. (I wrote about this analogy in more depth here).

The more we expose our vulnerabilities and someone handles our sensitive spots gently, the more marbles we gather in the jar. Trust grows as the jar becomes more full of marbles. But when someone betrays that trust or chooses to stick needles in the wounds of our vulnerability, we lose marbles in the jar. If someone uses our vulnerability against us, we may feel like dumping out the whole jar of marbles. Over time, the strength of the relationship is based on how many marbles are in the jar.

(To listen in as Brené Brown and I dish on vulnerability and how it affects our health, sign up here to receive the recording of our FREE telejam.)

Big Ugly Tails

In a perfect world, we’d all be able to grow past our big ugly tails. But we’re destined to be human this go around, and our dark stuff ain’t going away. Part of what I love about my closest friends is that they’ve all done enough personal growth work that they’re mostly aware of their big ugly tails and are actively working on addressing them. It’s those who are blind to their big ugly tails whom can be challenging to be in relationship with, and we must have compassion for those who are still blind.

But big ugly tails are so easy to judge—both in someone else and in ourselves. When someone else shines a light on our big ugly tails, we may be tempted to run the other direction because it can hurt to look at how blind we’ve been to our big ugly tails. If someone sends us the message that we have an unseen big ugly tail, we may be tempted to kill the messenger.

How Compassion for Our Big Ugly Tails Heals Us

The opposite is also true. If we illuminate a big ugly tail of someone else, we may be tempted to judge that person, to think less, to criticize, to demean, even to reject the person whose big ugly tail we’ve seen. But wouldn’t it be kinder if we treated them gently and with compassion?

When someone exposes his or her big ugly tail to you or when you see your own, this calls for a big, beautiful dose of love, kindness, and abundant compassion. Beating yourself up—or going on the attack with the person whose big ugly tail you’ve witnessed—only deepens the vulnerable wound and leads to fewer marbles in the jar. Instead, seeing big ugly tails—in others or in ourselves—is an opportunity to deepen trust and intimacy with others and to learn how to unconditionally love and accept ourselves, even those parts of ourselves that lead us to feel the poisonous emotion of shame, which not only poisons our minds, it poisons every cell in our bodies by signaling threat emotions in our amygdalas, which, as I describe in Mind Over Medicine, deactivates self-repair mechanisms in our bodies.

If, instead of judging others and ourselves, we can find compassion for the ugly parts in each other and ourselves, we can start to feel more love and intimacy, and these emotions calm our amygdalas, activating the body’s self-repair mechanisms and optimizing the body’s ability to do what it does best—heal itself.

How Light Heals Our Big Ugly Tails

When your big ugly tails are illuminated, there’s nothing you have to do to “fix” them. Big ugly tails do the most damage when we’re blind to them, and they can inadvertently swat around and hurt people without our awareness. We may leave shrapnel in the wake of our big ugly tails, and once you realize this, you may feel even more motivated to hate your big ugly tail, rather than treat it with loving compassion.

But here’s the thing. Once we see our big ugly tails, they automatically start to shrink in the light. Like spooky shadows that disappear when the floodlights flip on, our big ugly tails, once seen, start healing themselves, just like our bodies do when we feel loved and accepted, in spite of our darkness.

My Big Ugly Tail

I don’t think I’ve been gentle enough around other people’s vulnerable wounds, because my big ugly tail is that I have a tendency to get all self-righteous, to make myself “superior” to people once I’ve seen their big ugly tails. I make myself “right” and others “wrong,” and then my ego (I call her Victoria Rochester) convinces me that I shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells around someone else’s stinky wound.

But sometimes walking on eggshells around someone’s raw wound is the perfect opportunity to practice compassion and to demonstrate love.

And that’s my stuff to work on. Maybe someone could put lavender oil on it for me, even if it’s just me being compassionate with this side of myself I’m not so proud of. At least the lights are on, and I’m no longer blind to how I created my own suffering for many years.”

via Positively Positive   http://www.positivelypositive.com/  June 5, 2013

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Anger

Just a little something to ponder …

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The Dark Place

I’ve been hesitant to write these past weeks,  using every excuse not to face this page.  That I was out of the country and then came home to a crashed computer sounded like solid reasons for silence.  But I am deeply uncomfortable with even small deceits.

My reason for silence is that the subject is uncomfortable for me.  I’m used to posting uplifting material.  But I’ve had to face an uncomfortable truth.  The me, who could always find the light no matter how difficult the problem no matter how bad the pain, had left.

It happened while on vacation.  The details don’t really matter unless you count them.  There were too many .. too many blows, too many let downs, too many depressingly sunny mornings, long hopeless afternoons, and pain filled lonely nights.  And hardest of all there were too many happy people around me.

I was sick and scared and in constant pain.  It wasn’t that I didn’t try to help myself.  I reached for help from every person I thought I could count on.  I meditated. I prayed. I looked for the good and I saw a lot of it. But the pain was persistent and fierce and left me not a moment to breathe.  And I broke.

Why could not one person help me?  Why were none of my back up techniques working?  I doubled over with great choking sobs.  I  begged The Creator to tell me what I was supposed to be learning from so many years of suffering with each crisis coming ever closer to the last.  What was I doing wrong?   I pleaded,  “I’m not getting it, whatever you are trying to teach me, I’m missing it.  Tell me, tell me, please, in a way that humans can understand because   I   Can  Not  See   The   Signs!”

It felt like the tears would never stop but, of course, they did.  And, no, I did not receive any answers.  The fear and pain remained.  The last few days of our vacation were hard as I  worked to keep up a good front so that at least my husband could enjoy the time we had left.  It’s not that he was unaware that I was ill.  In fact he tried to help every way he knew. (I am so blessed.)

I am better now … in less pain.  In fact, I’ve started a very new form of therapy that I feel is going to make a huge difference in my quality of life.  Yet I am still haunted by that dark place.  I feel as though I have not escaped ….  that at least part of me is still there.

It’s not that I’ve haven’t  experienced seriously frightening and painful periods. But never before had there been no one I could call in the next hour or even the next day who could help me.  Never before had I felt completely abandoned by God/The Creator/The Universe.  In the past, even during the worst of times, I always “knew” that He/She had my back.

I have not lost my faith but I remain shaken.  I had assumed that I was on the right path, being the best me I could be, helping others as I went along. Now, I don’t know.  Are there signs right in front of me that I refuse to see?  How many have I missed over the years?  Is there some great lesson I have yet to learn?

Just writing this makes me feel as if energetic tentacles are pulling me back to the edge of that black hole.  What scares me the most is that I may find myself there again … terrified, in pain, and alone.

So what is the lesson?  Maybe the experience was to help me empathize with others.  But haven’t I been through enough these past 20 years to have nearly infinite empathy?

Maybe there is no lesson.  Maybe there is just the experience.  I wish I could leave you with something positive and profound.  All that is coming to me is that it’s okay.  It is okay to have been in that dark place.  There is nothing wrong with me or anyone else for having gone there.

(This is not about clinical depression.  If you feel deep sadness for more than a couple of weeks, do seek professional help from a counselor or therapist. )

I know that many of you have likely experienced the dark place.  How has it affected your life?  Is there something you have learned? Are you at peace with yourself now?  I eagerly await your comments.

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