Trigger alert: This article addresses sensitive topics like suicide and depression. If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please contact the National Suicide Hotline by dialing 988. Crisis counselors work around the clock to assist those in suicidal or self-harm situations. They also provide services for our nation’s veterans and specialized services for the LGBTQ community.
The choice was made. Sitting in the terminal at the Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans, LA, I decided that death was more certain and reliable than living an unpredictable life. I let go, boarded the plane, and thoroughly enjoyed the freedom that came with completely letting go. That plane could have gone down in a tailspin, and while everyone was in a panic I would have been as serene as a Tibetan monk meditating at Tiger’s Nest. There was this deep, profound peace that resonated in my soul. Was it because I was literally ready to die? Or was it the final ego death of complete relinquishment of control to God/The Universe? I will never know exactly. What I do know is that when the plane landed and I got home, I was unbothered by all of the challenges that I would have to face the next morning.
The abyss of depression is a frightening cavernous maze of highs and lows, loss of appetite, and in some cases a profound questioning of one’s existence in the universe. If you use this period wisely it will provide, what Jordan Peterson calls, “useful information,” about yourself. This almost 20-year period of deep depression provided an abundance of “useful information” about myself, humanity, and the environment I have emerged from. I honestly believed my New Orleans trip for the New Year was going to be one of fun, over indulgence of beignets, and an abundance of cleavage, adults dressed as pink bunnies, and other oddities on Bourbon Street. You know what? It was all of that and more. I got to reconnect with some fellas from Ireland discussing Irish history and the Great Potato Famine. The beignets, gator tails, and crawfish etouffee were to die for. For 24 hours, I was able to put all of my cares from 1982 to 2022 completely behind me. The Great Spirit above even threw a nice lesson at me, and perhaps this is what led to my ego death before boarding my flight back to Austin.
I have always been aware of how much baggage I have carried from my past. Every time I arrive at a new destination with new people, I unpack it, and then wonder why no one wants to stay. My past, since toddlerhood, is a frightening one. It is defined by abuse, abandonment, and living one lie after another just to cope. We can say I mastered the art of being delusional. My swan dives into the pit of disappointment upon the bursting of those delusional bubbles have little to no splash. So, as I was packing for a 24-hour trip, I felt the need to pack for a week. The suitcase was 35 lbs. at check-in! The plane landed at 10:00 a.m. central standard time, and check-in at the hotel was not until 3: 00p.m. So, here I am in this brand-new experience, excited to have some fun, but I am pulling this 35 lbs. bag around the French Quarter. Now, I didn’t let it spoil the experience, but it definitely limited me for sure. I lacked the freedom I wanted to have in order to explore a city that had always captivated my imagination.
Finding myself at the Our Lady of Lourdes grotto next to St. Louis Cemetery, I paid my respects to Our Lady. Her spirit is beautiful too. Mother Mary holds a special place in my heart; she is the mother who never left. I had fallen away from connecting with her over the last several months so it was comforting to just to be in her presence, asking for nothing, and just listening. On the way to the hotel that is when wisdom decided to download itself into my brain like the latest iOS processer.
Rosemary, you want these new experiences and new emotions, but you are still carrying this huge bag of hurt and pain from the past. I know you are holding on because this is your final connection to those who YOU love, even though they don’t love you. But I need you to be brave, and give it to me. You’ve scoured it, analyzed it, and you have worked hard to fix it. You cannot fix the past, only let it be. Will you give me your baggage so I can handle it?
I did. It was 1:30 p.m. and at 2:00 p.m. the hotel staff relieved me of the burden of our luggage until we could check-in at 3:00p.m. Funny how our inner experiences manifest into reality isn’t it? For the rest of the evening, it was a cacophony of sound, sights, and music on Canal St. and Bourbon St. The experience was so overstimulating that I passed out before midnight.
As I had mentioned before, deep depression, if used wisely and with skill can provide an abundance of useful information. It is a very difficult task, and I was only able to learn how to use depression as a tool because I had encountered so many ineffective therapists that I felt I had no choice but to be left to my own devices.
Disclaimer: I do not recommend this as this is very dangerous, and I am very lucky to have made it work for me. If you feel you need help with your depression, seek help from a licensed therapist. Therapy has improved tremendously since the early 2000’s when I was seeking help initially.
Letting go the way I did before boarding that flight opened up the rest of the deep wounds I have been healing from since I was a young adult. I finally got to the core beliefs that had been holding me back for longer than I care to admit. For the sake of transparency, I will share the core beliefs that were exposed as I was flying home in that perfect state of serenity:
- I am not worth committing to [Abandonment wound]
- Success will get you punished. As I was publicly celebrated for accomplishments; punished in private for the same accomplishments [Shame wound]
- “Friends” and boyfriends who acknowledge me in private but do not dare to associate with me in any way, shape, or form in public [Father wound]
- I am always alone [abandonment wound]
- I had no female role models, not even from Hollywood, to look up to [Mother wound]
- If I share my deepest trauma that will keep people away [Protective/defensive wound]
- Close relationships are unsafe [Abandonment/Abuse/Mother/Father wound]
- If I fix the past, then I will be more desirable to others as they will not be embarrassed by me [Shame wound]
- I am a failed Christian [Spiritual abuse/Trauma Wound]
- God does not value me because I am not the “type” he is looking for (aka the frosty blond hair, blue-eyed, GAP wearing Christian who is just so filled with the joy of Christ in her eyes) [Shame/Spiritual abuse/Abandonment wound]
Do any of these themes resonate? If they do, then you can take heart in knowing that A. You are not alone B. There is no surprise about these and C. These core beliefs are what is driving your behavior just as they have driven mine.
Often when we see expose these wounds and there is a profound sense of shame which is understandable because we think to ourselves, “OH MY GOD! I’ve been letting THIS control my life!?” The other side is that if we take a clinical approach, we can see that this is as information we can use to improve our existence. These core beliefs are only life sentences if we make them a life sentence. Guess who is guilty of using these as a life sentence for herself? That’s right, yours truly. Guilty as charged (no pun intended). Reflection can be time consuming, and it is understandable why many do not want to do this work. You almost wonder if the work is even worth it; especially when it gets worse before there is any sign it will get better. However, when you can look at these core wounds with that clinical objectivity, and think to yourself, “OH! Well, this IS useful! Let’s start changing them!” You know that these beliefs are losing their power over you.
Another piece of useful information is that when you are fighting this battle called, Depression, you are fighting these disempowering beliefs. They DO fight back with a vengeance because they have enjoyed a long, uncontested reign in your life. Christians will call this The Devil, even New Agers/Pagans would call this “Devil” energy or limiting beliefs, and psychologists call them your core beliefs. In the moment you do feel powerless and helpless to change anything. These beliefs are nuanced, complex, and deeply engrained…it feels like you are pulling a sword out of your heart. However, the more you confront these beliefs the less power they have over you.
Changing what I believe is scary because that means relinquishing control over to a higher power I am STILL learning to trust. It is also letting go of a home, a biological and adoptive family who I loved very much but I cannot be a part of at this moment in time, and saying “good-bye” to people and eventually a country I have deeply loved but who do not reciprocate the same in return. My existence can be defined by very one-sided arrangements. Once again, this is useful information as it informs me of the environment that had poisoned my soul and mind for so long. I am grateful for the reciprocal relationships that have lasted. They have been my northern stars. And I am now extending compassion to those who could not reciprocate, as I was in their shoes with other people in my life as well. I know that journey and it is just as painful as bidding farewell to all that you know.
How Do We Embrace Letting Go?
I don’t have an easy answer for this question as it has been the hardest thing in life for me to do. I am no New Age guru, nor do I have some mystical connection to the universe. I am a glorious mess of romantic and impossible dreams that I am trying to bring into my reality here on Earth. I believe God is helping me. How can I build a new life with the PlaySkool tools of unhealthy beliefs and coping mechanisms? I had to put away my childish toys, and open up the adult tool chest in order to get to work.
What I do know is that holding on is as painful as gripping the blade of a freshly sharpened sword, and the peace that came with my ego death at the Louis Armstrong International Airport was a peace that I never want to compromise. In my personal journey, I have to ask myself what is more important, being right just to prove others wrong about me (which has led to far too many dead ends) or can I muster up enough courage to allow my life to improve by relinquishing my old core beliefs, developing healthier beliefs, and deciding that I am allowed to create the life I have always wanted? As challenging as the latter is, I will take it.
In conclusion, the ego death is a painful valley filled with dangers, challenges, and sorrow. In the end, once you allow your heart to fully open up, you can never go back. Sometimes we need to ask those who are contemplating ending their lives prematurely the right questions instead of guilting them. Questions like, do you want to literally die or are there beliefs that want to die and the only words you have for this are, ‘I want to die?'” In many cases, it is our past crying out to us telling us to stop trying to save it and let it go. Once I understood this for myself, I was able to let go.
We all love to make New Year’s resolutions. I chose to do differently. I made a promise. I promised myself that 2023 would be different, and I passed the point of no return on New Year’s Day. I hope you will make some healthy promises to yourself too.