“I’m so discouraged. I’ve been down the rabbit hole so many times in the past few months. I’m so tired of feeling so bad all the time,” I eked out to my coach during an early morning phone session. “Are you feeling suicidal, Molly?” he asked. I appreciated the question. He’s been on this journey with me for a while and clearly knows my history of suicidal ideation. “No. I’m not,” I answered back. “I don’t feel like killing myself, but honestly in this moment, I’m wondering what’s the point of it all.”
It has felt like such a fight to me. I’ve spent countless hours in conversations about limiting beliefs, feelings, depression, and upset. I’ve spent thousands and thousands of dollars to heal myself. I’ve given my money, my time, my heart, and everything I have to battle the self-doubt, loneliness, and sadness that seem to have an unending grip on me. Why do I keep ending up back here in despair? Why is all my effort for happiness so fleeting? Will I ever feel better? Will I ever be truly happy?
I cried. Again. I felt embarrassed to be crying these tears again and to be saying all these things that I have said so many times. I was so sick of hearing it. Yet, here I was. This was what was so for me. I was upset, frustrated, and feeling miserable.
In my view, coaching is about awareness. That is why I keep coming back to it. It helps me to see things about the world and myself I didn’t see before. With awareness comes choice, and with choice comes freedom. When I see things differently I can choose otherwise. Until then, I’m stuck in the suffering. That is what I received in the call that morning, awareness.
I became aware of a pattern that wasn’t super fun to see in the moment, stubbornness. I held a truth about myself that I would defend at just about any cost. The truth about me was that no one would tell me what kind of pants to wear. Literally, this is something I have spent insane amounts of energy defending¬– pants! First, this showed up with my mom and what I would wear to school. Our relationship was strained for decades over my clothes choice. Later the war turned to employers. I was told I couldn’t wear jeans to work and I raged about this for months. Finally I had the job of my dreams and I almost quit because of this pants issue. This was also the final blow in a fantastic relationship I was in. The mere suggestion of pant choice and I was in rage mode again… relationship over. I had the truth about this though. I wanted to be right about it more than I wanted to have a loving relationship with my mom, a career I loved saving lives, and a partner I could see myself growing old with. This is me¬– no one will tell me what to wear! No matter what. Wow, that truth cost me a ton.
That’s not the only truth I was defending about myself. I was also holding a truth about my depression. I am sensitive; I get my feelings hurt easily, and often go down the rabbit hole. This is me and this is my truth. By holding this as a truth about myself I made it a permanent thing. Do you know what I mean? We do that sometimes. “This is me, this is who I am… I am lazy, I am not a hugger, or I am bad at math.” We declare it and fight for it. OMG! I have been doing this. I have been stubbornly fighting for depression.
With this truth, I am sensitive and get my feelings hurt easily, I have showed up very serious about it. It’s kind of been like keeping my stomach muscles tight preparing for a punch. I’ve been walking around bracing myself all the time, well most of the time. This has been exhausting!! And when it actually happened I was almost kind of glad because then I got to be right! See!! Yep, I got my feelings hurt again and now here comes the drama, the upset, the rabbit hole, and all of it. My God.
This seriousness about the truth of me has sucked the life right out of the room on many occasions. It has taken an incredibly fun opportunity and flipped it right into suffering. Over and over again. I had a full-blown melt down on my birthday in Italy. I went to a baseball game I had been looking forward to for weeks and cried all the way home. I could go on and on.
But here is the thing. I didn’t know better because I didn’t see it. I didn’t have the awareness. Now that I can see it, I have the freedom to choose differently. I can choose to be lighthearted. I can choose to come with fun and joy and to not take it all so serious. In times when I have been more light and free I actually find things funny that would otherwise send me reeling. I could see myself finding the girly pants comment quite funny if I came with lightness. I can’t choose depression, but I can choose how I respond to it. My coach taught me three steps to freedom. Step one: awareness. Step two: forgiveness. Step three: gratitude.
Step two. Forgiveness. Now that I had the awareness there were a few things to clean up in my life. I had a bit of forgiveness to do about making my boss wrong for making me wear pants. Forgiveness for my ex-boyfriend for suggesting I wear girly pants. I’m being kind of funny here, but there was a lot of forgiveness with him. I made him wrong for hurting my feelings, for not getting me, and for not wanting to spend time in my upset. There was forgiveness for many people I chose out with in my life because of this pattern. I spent a good portion of the morning forgiving myself and others. With every letter I sent I felt my spirit lift.
The conversations that resulted were astounding. Doors that had been shut for a long time began to open. I had a heartfelt conversation with my boss about how I had been showing up. I owned my part and committed to showing up differently. Not only did she appreciate the honesty, she said this revealed to her my level of leadership and management potential. So, here is the third step: gratitude.
By missing the mark and cleaning it up at work I revealed my true character; my willingness to speak up when something isn’t working, my honesty and willingness to own my mistakes, my willingness to course correct and find solutions. I actually strengthened my position and connections at work through this process. I’m glad it happened because of what it created, this is the gratitude. I am grateful my boyfriend and I broke up. Had we not, I would have stayed in a pattern of suffering and just brought him into it with me. I care about him and myself way too much to do that. I’m grateful. This was a tough one, but I’m grateful for depression. It has taught me trust, faith, compassion, hope, humility, willingness, and perseverance. I am who I am today because of what I experienced yesterday. To me, this is good news cause I’m pretty frickin awesome. Thank you. Thank you past relationships, thank you mom, thank you work, thank you depression, and thank you coach. Thank you for helping me to see something different.