If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present…Lao Tzu
I wanted to say something brief about this quote. I can see that in my own life that the chemical imbalances in my brain were mostly due to poor diet (especially as a teenager- I think I lived off of Dr. Pepper!) combined with an invalidating environment that left me with very little self esteem and a lot of anger. In my case it wasn’t Nature vs. Nurture- it was both.
But now that I am older, it is up to me to forgive those who have wronged me. It is up to me to put the pieces of a broken childhood back together by reminding myself that my mother did the best she could under the circumstances- she really didn’t know any better. She was 17 when she had me and I was only a little over a year old when my father was killed in a car accident on his way back to base. She was too young and economically unstable to care for me and so I went to live with my Maw Maw and Paw Paw. My grandparents were really sweet people and I received a tremendous amount of love from them. They were strict, maybe too strict. I’m sure they thought they were protecting me, but I felt stifled. When I went to live with my aunt in New Orleans, my eyes were opened to a whole new culture and she was a lot more open minded. The problem was that I went back and forth between my grandparents, my aunt, my mom and her husband who would later abuse me, and eventually to Chicago to live with my mother. I certainly had a tumultuous childhood.
I felt like the adults were playing ping pong with me as if my life and opinions counted for nothing. I wasn’t allowed to express negative emotions, so eventually I started acting out as a teen to get attention. I went to my first rehab at Hazelden in Minnesota before I was 16. I spent one year clean and then went to college and went right along with the crowd, going to parties and getting drunk. I had no idea who I was or what I wanted out of life, for I had no true roots.
Which brings me to the Wisdom of Trees. When I spend time out in nature among beautiful trees, I notice their roots. They are stable and more often than not, trees bend, but they usually don’t break. Which brings me to today. Today I am learning how to bend without breaking and life has given me plenty of opportunities and people with which to practice patience, love and tolerance.
But the key to holding on is to stay in the moment rather than wishing we could change what was. I have spent too many days and nights reminiscing about better days. Days when I had plenty of money or a better house than I’m living in now or a better job than the one I’ve got, etc. I’m learning to accept reality and the people in it. I’m also learning that even though I might have clinical depression and anxiety that I shouldn’t depend on pills for happiness. I used to say that “happiness is a chemical.” And that may be true to some extent, but our thoughts certainly have more power then we realize. Don’t give your power away.