There is a powerful moment in the film, Tender Mercies, when the lead character, hearing of the death of someone close to him, says he hates happiness. “You can’t trust it.”
I learned many lessons like that when young. For a long time, I was fearful of a happiness that seemed to depend on being with someone. That was the only happiness I could imagine since I felt so empty on my own, so unworthy of any place in the world at all. Then I met that special one who became my life partner. She kicked and poked at my depression long and hard enough to help me start seeing around it.
I could begin to understand that my down-staring face didn’t reveal who I really was. She could scream enough into my soul to get the message through that love was an offering that had to be taken in and returned. It needed to meet a responding energy and affection coming from a deep place in me.
She helped wake me up to my own humanness and to the possibility of healing. I began to be aware of a life so different from what I was used to, a life where inner peace, and a simple love, could be found.
So every now and then I feel that love so deeply and the goodness it holds that I have to say simply, Thank you, partner.
You are so beautiful, today and always, even when your own inner mess won’t let you think that.
If you don’t believe me, you have only to look around at what comes from the power you have to create beautiful things. Where do you think those paintings, those gardens, those rich designs for the everyday could come from but a radiant inner self born to put into the world its own harmony, colors and grace?
What I try to tell her, (and so often in my manly way I can’t get the damn words out face to face), I also try to tell myself. I have a hard time believing it as well. Depression makes it hard to hear such things, let alone believe them. I need to say it over and over again. Maybe you who are reading this can say it, too.
You are so beautiful.
Now you may feel that pulse of beauty within you or you may feel a tedious beat. You may see things growing everywhere or you may see only waste and decay. When you’re depressed, you may not see or hear or want anything at all except to step out of life altogether.
You may long for release from a life you imagine chains you, or you may lack the energy even for fantasy. You may want to disappear in reality as you have in spirit, covering your whole body, especially your eyes, with a rich darkness, pure emptiness, that is the only remaining goal of your weakening hope.
But there’s more to you than that. There’s at least a small space left to catch what light remains inside. That glimmer comes from a source you can reach.
I have to keep talking about this small space even when despair is pushing me to forget it. It has no fixed dimensions but can become as vast as love. Knowing it’s there helps me hold onto life when everything seems to be pouring away like water.
I’m so lucky because I have a partner who can help me stay with it. I try to tell you, close friend, and you try to tell me, though mostly not in words:
You are so beautiful.
What do you do to find and stay in that one spot of safety until it grows into your world again and you know you are surviving?
This is a revised version of a post I wrote four years ago. Just as true today as it was then.