Hello! I am Linda’s writer. She gave me the gift of release last night so I am going to tell you a bit of what it is like here in this inner community surrounding that part of her that is in depression-grief right now. Her story will come as she is ready for it to be written. For now, I want to speak about those of us, inside, who form her inner support network. It is a message that is needed, not only for people surrounding others, but for those who may choose to form our support community as we walk as a community of one through this time with her.
We are lucky. Linda is self-aware enough to know that every person is a community of beliefs, talents, emotions, purposes. Through the years she has released me to immortalize our presence in words so that she could more clearly see the intricate complexity that she is. She has allowed me to dialogue with the words she hears and reads through small asides upon the pages of books or when taking notes and didn’t make me stop even when electronic devices took the place of pencil and pad in her bags. She followed my whispers and picked up books by authors and strong leaders who shared their own stories of depression that simply gentled their way of interacting with others. We are slowly being able to help her see that there is no shame in being a person who walks through these times of darkness.
I am not alone in keeping this record or supporting those parts that have felt so broken in her. The child artist in her who loved to doodle and cut and paste and glue didn’t let herself be pushed out even when some persons in life called her frivolous and unimportant. Even the musician has been able to hang on through the work she is doing as a music teacher.
And the teacher. The teacher has always been the strongest of us all. If we hadn’t had her to stand up to the matriarch inside or to have the wisdom to seek understanding of the skeptic’s unruly remarks or to look inside to find the provision to help along the journey of recovering, we would have been lost in other times the darkness grew. It was, also, the teacher who knew when outside support was needed both back in the days where the broken pieces were too many and too close to the outside self, as well, as now when the stomach knots, the mind scrambles to swim in the torrents and firing of nerve endings are worn like a second skin.
There are inner parts that almost stopped us from the work we needed to do to allow healing in our community of one. For example, the caretaker is a wonderful addition to our community that I wouldn’t want to be without, but somehow she missed the memo that said we should love others as we love ourselves. The Creator’s liaison within was smart enough, though, to teach us that what help we give others is less effectual if we can’t give it from the genuineness of honoring ourselves. With that guidance, we are being able to help her find more balance in her perception of responsibility.
Years ago, that wise messenger hinted at this plan of writing the pieces into characters in a story so she could start seeing us as others that she could love. Within a deeply broken place in her life when healing would only come from seeing what is within, Linda let me write and let her child artist create cut outs for the personas within her that interacted in the story of who she was. Having begun to put form to what was real in her inner story, this community of one was given a way to recognize where the pain was and begin to rally together for support.
No one can make it through depression alone. Even when the One-who-walks-through-stormy-waters-with-steps-unseen is present and known, the presence of others helps. The person in the depression knows this but often those of us surrounding the pain make the mistake of taking too much of it on ourselves. We mean so well, but we weaken the power of those parts within that can be strong if we try to carry them when they are so low. They know. Their knowing causes a clinginess that drains you or pushes you away. For those like me, the inside begins to feel like an empty room if too much of who they are living on the outside is a mask for you. It becomes that if their interactions with you are only about their weakness or expectations of who she should be to gain your acceptance.
This community-of-one knows we have been lucky in life. There have been those along the journey who saw the person and gave gifts into her life that helped her walk in times when depression was at bay. The watcher within stayed aware of the interactions in her life and so I now can continue to write this story of healings quest as this community-of-one finds her way in the world.
The self who holds all these pieces of our community has woken up from her long numb sleep of self exclusion. Her last introduced her to the concept of mindful living. Through books read she began to live in the power of each moment. She tried to ignore the comments about accepting what she believed were negative emotions as a part of that mindfulness as well, but these inner parts of us that have grown stronger through the years held on to the knowledge for such a time as this. The self has realized that to be whole, to let all that is within her find a place to truly live, she would need to accept those parts which are in pain as well.
She really has no choice though. The walls have broken. There is no hiding from the grief howling out through the memories of not only loss but of letting go of important treasures in her desire to be what she believed was needed to live in the world of others. In freeing us, this month, she also freed herself to remember again, to write again, to look for the pictures in the world she walks in, to paint and collage, to be.
And so we within invite those who choose to walk with this community of one to do just that. Walk with us. Don’t try to carry her struggle. She, the self who holds us all, does have the strength to make it through this if she can keep from trying to distance us all again by trying to deny her pain.
She will heal. It will take time and we simply ask your patience with her as she walks this road. The teacher self said it to a student who was grieving in class and not trying to show tears, “Crying is okay here. If you are okay to stay, I don’t want to send you away while you are hurting.” The teacher has asks us to do the same with the parts that are in pain right now. She knows that it takes a community to heal. We will do what we can from the inside and will do it by walking along side, by writing or painting to allow those pieces to speak.
My friend, Merna, taught me to do this. Throughout the struggles in my life that she was witness to, she found ways to invite me into the arts knowing that in creating I was strongest. When she went on a women’s retreat in her last months, she invited me to share her room and allowed me to see her without her wig. As we left, she gave me a dance themed journal to remind me to always let my thoughts dance out upon the page, not matter what happened in this life.
Our last visit before Merna moved to Calgary to be nearer the oncology wards for her last weeks of life was to call me over to finish the dolls we were making for our daughters. We allowed our fingers to create while we talked of hopes and fears and memories. When I went to see her in her final days, I knew the gift of song, her favorite praise song, that I could sing for her since she could no longer sing. As I sang, she threw her hands up in the air and wept her voice to the heavens. When I finished, her eyes told me that the song had given peace.
So, Merna, these words are dedicated to you who stood by the young woman who mourns within during the time she was the face that was in the world. Thank you for all you did to help her live during that dark time in this life. Thank you for seeing her strength even when she felt so weak. You are the one who helped her walk again after she fell so deeply into darkness all those years ago. And you did this even as you were fighting that battle of your own. This community-of-one will never forget the love you showed. Someday she will see you again, but for now, she still have a legacy of love to live. We, the creative parts within that you helped nurture, will help her.
I the writer will live your legacy into this life that you cared for in those years long ago. I will stand by her and hold out her joy of creating.