Looking into my Pandora's Box was like looking into a deep hole in the center of my being. How many times had I casually dropped a feeling, thought, opinion or hurt into this hole without a single thought of what actually became of it or where it went? It's difficult to publicly admit that I had performed that act of avoidance too many times to even consider. At the time, I believed I was doing it to keep myself protected from conflict or pain, but what I was really creating was a life filled with dishonestly expressed emotions and fear of conflict. And those unspoken truths didn't merely go quietly into the night, but instead festered into a toxic mess that had to be recognized, allowed to emerge and reckoned with in an openly authentic manner. I would have been satisfied to leave it all unnoticed and locked away, but when the depression exploded into my existence, I became fully aware that something had gone terribly wrong and I needed to figure out what it was and how to make it better.
I felt the initial step I needed to take toward self-discovery was to cautiously open Pandora's Box, and with courage and strength, face the contents that had been held captive for too long. I knew the assistance of a therapist was crucial for guidance and focus, so I set up an appointment with a woman who came highly recommended. After meeting with her, I left with a glimmer of hope, but in the time it took me to get home, I had slipped back into a dense fog of nothingness. I knew I wouldn't be able to meet again with her until after winter break, so I added a prayer for patience to my daily litany of requests.
Step by step is how I managed to get through the days preceding Christmas, which in the past had been my favorite time of the year, since it was the time leading up to all of my family reuniting for a love-filled holiday together. It was early Christmas morning when I decided to put into action my dad's belief of bringing the body and having the mind follow. I had no desire to go to our large family gift opening, but since I understood the importance of that gathering, I literally forced myself to attend. I was amazed to find that I could actually enter into the spirit of our family's love and momentarily leave behind the cloud of disinterest that would so often surround me. I received the greatest gift that day by experiencing the power held within those simple words of bring your body and your mind will follow.
Going with my parents to Florida was exactly what I needed to do in order to recognize that I had more courage and strength inside me than I believed possible. The first time I became aware of this courage and strength was when I found that I was able to drive, even though a few days earlier I would have been willing to pay for someone else to do it. After stopping for a quick lunch on our first day, my dad handed the keys to me and assumed I would drive for the next few hours. I remember taking a full breath and telling myself that if I truly wasn't able to safely drive, then I could hand the keys back to him at any time. To my total amazement I was able to concentrate and stay safely focused on the road and traffic. Being able to tackle a challenge like this and succeed was a sweet tasting victory for me, and it was this type of discovery that I could tuck into my memory bank to be used later as a concrete reminder of what is possible to achieve even in the darkness of depression.