Approximately 18 months ago I hit bottom. HARD! I had never felt so helpless and dispassionate. To keep it from my family I became somewhat of a recluse, said I was sick and needed to rest. I laid in my bed for nearly two straight days as my mind continued on its landslide of decay. I was unable to move, unwilling to participate in any type of activity. Depression, anxiety and an overwhelming fear of being trapped weighted me to the bed. Any movement took every ounce of strength as my mind spun stories of loss, inadequacy, of massive failure! What made it all even further unbearable was knowing that I just had to endure the pain until it passed. With two kids to raise and I was not about to pass along any of my pain to them. I hid it as best I did under the cloak of a headache and upset stomach, but the real suffering was so much deeper inside and I had no way of knowing how to treat it.
When I was younger, my Dad used to call me a “gypsy.” I always had to be on the go – a trip to the mall, a drive to the beach, a quick run to grab some groceries. It’s always been tough for me to sit still for too long so one can imagine how laying lifeless for 48 hours was itself a form of torture.
Eventually, the kids and I became stir crazy enough that I found the will to move my atrophied muscles off the bed and eventually out of the house. Our destination? A little community ceramics painting business called Color Me Mine. I figured if I gave the kids a couple hours to focus on something fun and creative I would feel less guilty about checking out. Best part? I didn’t have to provide the entertainment or clean up afterwards.
I remember picking out a very simple tea cup with little raised hearts on the outside. The less detail the better. The last thing I needed was the pressure of making complicated decisions. I selected only three colors and painted the ceramic very slowly. One coat, then two, then a third to be sure the color would be solid and rich when it fired. I left my self critic outside the room and allowed the child inside to heal. The brushes were light in my hands, my arms became less and less weighted and as the hours passed, my spirit lifted too.
I learned a lot about letting go that long weekend – letting go of the stories we tell ourselves in times of loss, releasing self depravity and most of all taking creative action in the face of fear. Ever since that day, I’ve felt a little lighter, bounced a little higher.
Today, my children and I once again visited our neighborhood Color Me Mine. It’s actually one of our favorite little escapes. At the end of our time today the three of us all agreed it was our best day ever. My creation today…two little bears, arm in arm with their pumpkin patiently awaiting sweetness of the season. “This is love” I said to my kids. “This is you.”