A couple of weeks ago, in a state of profound depression, and referencing a passage that I had recently read that said the way to happiness was always to have something to look forward to, I said, in despair, that I had nothing to look forward to. Of course it was a response to being so far down that I couldn’t see up. And what I really meant was not as bleak as it sounded. I meant that of course I have family and people whom I love, appreciate, and care about, as well as my animals and so on, but at 61 feeling, at times, crippled by depression and often strangled by this bipolar disorder that is my partner in life, the things that I once really looked forward to, things just for me, not contingent on anyone else, were my writing and other creative pursuits, but most especially my writing. As the years have gone along, and the meds that I have to take have helped me live but stolen my creative energy to varying degrees the very thing that always defined me, writing, has become so hard to do in the sense of larger projects that I have felt as though my raison d’être, my reason for being, was very nearly obliterated. This has thrown me into some of the worst depressions of my life. But over the weekend my focus shifted and left me filled with joy.
All of my kids were in this weekend for the 4th of July. I have one child, my middle daughter Rachel, and her family here in Wilmington. My son Aaron and his wife live in Atlanta, and my eldest daughter Jenny lives in Chicago with her husband and 2 baby boys. We had the most wonderful time and I truly woke up to what happiness really is.
Happiness is love, it is family, it is connection, it is elevating your love for others above the fears, worries, and troubles of daily life. It is holding your 3 month old baby grandson for the first time and kissing him, and hugging and kissing his 3 year old brother, and my 11 year old grandson. I love being a grandmother. And my 3 children and their wonderful spouses, all like dear children themselves, here, with us, hugging and kissing and laughing and talking and crying (that would be me) and bonding again as family. That is happiness, that is what I have to look forward to above all else.
My writing will come and go and shapeshift and it is a time of tremendous transformation in my life. What may come I have no way of knowing at this juncture, but watching my children, of whom I am so very proud, and my grandchildren grow into their lives and become who they are becoming, that fills me with so much love and such a great sense of expectancy how could I ask for anything more? I am so deeply and richly blessed.
As the visit was ending I took a picture of the kids and their families on the front steps of my daughter’s home. I am going to have this enlarged and framed and when I have a hard spell again I will meditate on the family, and on the picture of kissing wee baby Silas above, and I will smile and my heart will lift, even in the darkness. There is always something to look forward to, to hold onto, and I think we must prepare for the dark and troubled times by finding those things that we cherish and love but that can slip away as we descend into the darkness. I know this will help. Loving and being loved does not erase depression but it can help us focus on something greater than ourselves and our own pain. At least I believe it will for me.
I am so full of love and so happy, I have such a sense of deep peace and acceptance, I have gathered my sweet family into my arms and heart again, and here they will stay. I am positively brimming over…