This barren wasteland.


In my life, I’ve rarely experienced true happiness, of the kind I experienced during the week of August 21, when I was on the Florida Gulf coast visiting my son.  I wrote a lot on this blog about the experience I had while basking in the warm Gulf waters and exploring the beaches and gazing at the unbelievable sunsets, and just being able to relax, forget my worries, and spend time with an almost 25 year old man who I love with a fierceness I reserve for very, very few people.  I felt very close to the divine during that time.   Even the 700 mile road trip going there and back was a sort of spiritual experience for me.   Everything about that week was perfect. I never felt so much at peace with myself and the world.  I felt somehow changed.

It occurred to me today that this weekend will be a month (4 weeks) since I began my vacation.  It’s a cherished memory now (and one that changed me in some profound way), but is now receding ever deeper into the past, joining the other few happy memories I have, most which happened much longer ago than this.     The memory is probably far enough in the past now that it’s no longer part of my short term memory but has now entered my long term memory.

While I’m grateful beyond words that I got to have this amazing experience, and know it won’t be the last time (I’m tentatively planning to return at the end of March),  I feel a deep sadness that it’s over tinged with a kind of yearning to return there forever.  Not so much because I miss the location of where I was, or even that I miss being in close proximity to my son (though I miss those things too), but the feeling of pure joy I had unfettered by anything else.  Rarely have I felt that kind of joy and lightness, and when I have, it’s been fleeting, like the momentary reflection of the sun on a dragonfly’s wings.

It’s been said that you can’t feel sadness without having known what happiness felt like.   Sadness is about loss.  In my case the loss of that deep, pure joy is bringing me into contact with the abyss of emptiness that still lives deep inside me, heavy and dark and cold, like a barren wasteland in which a chill wind always howls and it’s always winter and where nothing ever grows.

I tried praying about it, for I know it was really feeling close to the divine that made me feel so full of joy, not the actual surroundings, but it was just so much easier when I was away.    It’s hard to get that feeling back.   I look around my surroundings here and am reminded of how much I hate this time of year when the days are growing shorter and the nights longer, and  nature’s beginning to look tired and spent before going to sleep again for another winter.   Being here, without the sun and the sea and the sand, so far inland, back in the daily grind of real life, just reminds me of all the heartbreaks and losses and disappointments and hurts that have contaminated my life and pockmarked my soul full of raw and gaping holes.

This feeling of sad emptiness is very hard to explain.  I do suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) so that might have something to do with it, but I go through that every year.   This is different.  I feel like I’ve suffered a terrible loss, like a death, and like there’s no way I’ll ever feel that kind of joy again.   I want to so badly and I know I will, but right now it feels like it’s forever gone.

I imagine normal people feel that kind of joy more often, even if they don’t all the time.    I know I need to find a way to feel that lightness of spirit no matter where I am, but at the moment, I’m overwhelmed with this terrible nostalgia and sadness because my memory of that perfect week is no longer that recent and is quickly receding into the distant past, where details are forgotten or corrupted by other memories.   For that one week, it seemed as if the emptiness inside me was filled for a change; now it’s just empty again.

I always knew the emptiness was there, but I was so emotionally numb and so used to it that I regarded it as normal. I didn’t really think about it; it was just always there. Now it’s nearly unbearable. It could mean that I’m close to diving into the void because it seems so much nearer than it ever did before. Maybe I’m closer to it because so many of my usual defenses have fallen away. Maybe tomorrow night’s session will be an interesting one; I’ve noticed that just before a breakthrough I become more depressed than usual.

I called my therapist crying today and left a long message about how overwhelmed I felt by this spiritual and emotional barrenness.   I’ll be seeing him tomorrow;  I guess we need to talk about it.   I got a small taste of what it’s like to be mentally and spiritually alive and healthy, without any disorders, but the downside of that is that once you’ve seen heaven, reality seems like hell.

14 thoughts on “This barren wasteland.

  1. You wrote this so beautifully, I sailed right through it(I’m normally a slow reader). I know what you mean when a memory starts becoming more distant, that was a good way to describe it. Maybe you’re sad about that, that the feelings you experienced on your vacation aren’t as easily accessible as they were. But you will have more memories just like that one in the future! May tomorrow’s session bring some resolution to your sadness so you can be happy again:) Maybe there’s a technique you can learn to access your vacation like it was just last week.

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    • Well, I got some special therapy tonight–scary ride therapy! My daughter and her bf FORCED me to go to the fair with them and THEN go on the Cyclops! OMG! I thought I was gonna die! But It worked like a charm. I’m writing a post about it soon as I finish downloading the pictures from my phone.

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  2. Ohhhh….I know how it feels to have those glimpses of heaven open up only to feel yourself dropped back in the wasteland again. I can only think it these feelings and thoughts you have today will pass but its still very hard. I am sure the potential you glimpsed a month ago will return again. But nothing I guess can change the feelings you have today. I know I have read there is a big spiritual practice in opening to emptiness but it is so hard.

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    • Well, I’m happy to say I went to the fair tonight (I was talked into it) and was strong-armed into going on the Cyclops — a truly terrifying ride. I haven’t been on a ride like that since I was in my early 20s! I thought I was way too old for that, but I wasn’t and I didn’t puke or pass out (I just kept my eyes closed the whole time and screamed!) and then decided it was fun. I wasn’t about to get on again though, lol.


    • I’ve read about something called the “darknight of the soul”–which means that just before a spiritual awakening you feel a period of hopelessness or doubt. I also noticed this seems to happen to me before a breakthrough. So maybe tomorrow night’s therapy session will be interesting.
      I did wind up getting myself out of the depression though. I went to the fair, at my daughter’s insistence. She even forced me to go on a scary, intense ride and I was terrified but so glad I did! I forgot all about how depressed I was.

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  3. I know places matter to a person’s happiness. It just really does matter. I feel off-kilter if I’m not living where I need to be (like now), so I know it changes how you see yourself and your life.

    I reserve some cozy activities just for Fall and Winter so I have something to look forward to, although I must admit that I really do think if something can’t be done outdoors in the warm sunshine then it’s pretty lame. 🙂

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    • Yeah, I’m like that too. I have to really work at enjoying the colder months and plan ahead for fun. Because otherwise I just feel so depressed and gloomy.


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