First rule of holes: When you are in one, stop digging.

Molly Ivins

I’m in a hole. Embarrassing to say for one who loves sharing things related to finding freedom and joy, but here I am, in a hole.

And, mostly I’ve been digging.

When I finally stop and just sit here, I’m met with a feeling of heaviness of incredible proportions. Heavy and sore in the chest and throat. Breathing is happening, which is good, of course, but it’s dark. Real dark.

This hole is not new. In some form or another it has come and gone since childhood, really. In the last few years, when I have taken an interest in noticing and becoming aware of myself, I have noticed that I have always hoped some thing or person would come along and save me from it. Thoughts went something like: “If only… When ____…”

Alas, all the saviors in form of people turned out not to work out. (Of course not, sweetheart! How could it be different?) And, hoping for salvation some day, well, that’s no way to live now. Plus, it doesn’t help with the heavy chest.

In past moments of despair, in the face of what I thought was deep loss, I panicked. Even tried to end it a couple times way back. But here I am.

It seems, based on reality, that I am meant to be alive. It seems that I am to learn to care for someone —me!— who has moments and times of incredible heaviness. With that in mind, I was inquiring into the thought: “No one will want me with this heaviness” and I came to see that what’s truer is that *I* don’t want me with this heaviness.


Then I looked a bit more and tried on the thought: “I (do) want me with this heaviness.”

That thought could be just as true and it certainly is kinder and more peaceful than “I don’t want me with this heaviness.”

Then I wondered how a kind and wise and compassionate parent or friend would treat a dear one who has been visited by this incredibly heavy fear. And some ideas came, and that’s where you come in, tonight.

But first, let me quote a story I found recently that moved me deeply. It’s from a book called “Storycatcher” by Christina Baldwin:

[There is] a tribe in southern Africa called the Babemba in which a person doing something wrong, something that destroys this delicate social net, brings all work in the village to a halt. The people gather around that “offender,” and one by one they begin to recite everything he has done right in his life: every good deed, thoughtful behavior, act of social responsibility. These things have to be true about the person, and spoken honestly, but the time-honored consequence of misbehavior is to appreciate that person back into the better part of himself. The person is given the chance to remember who he is and why he is important to the life of the village. (p. 16-17)

I’ve committed no social offense that I know of —except for maybe hating up on someone who’s already in a hole!— but I love the idea of gathering the village and reminding the person of who they are without and beyond and before their story of self-hate and despair. And in this electronic communication age, and since I live alone, you are my village.

Will you remind me of who —in your view, of course— I am or am not? Will you tell me what you love? Will you share with me some way in which you enjoy me being a part of your life? Will you come and keep me company in the hole, while I’m here, or maybe gather around, all of you, up there and hold a circle around me? I love that image.

Grateful and loving you, all of you,


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