Moving forward through a Sea of Sand
Or: how Dune helps me through my very own desert. (sadly, the version with only one “s”.)
Every time after I crash I have to work my way out of that dark place again and it feels like I’m trying to climb up a slippery sandy slope or swim up against a streaming swirl of syrup (I couldn’t help myself after I noticed the first alliteration). I see where I want to go but every movement towards where I was before my crash is so exhausting. I get a boost of energy and motivation, I go running once, I get some household chore done, I paint a picture, and then it gets dark again. Like a faraway lightning flash illuminating the person I could be for a second.
But I hold on to the thought that after every flash it gets ever so little brighter, even though I feel blinded for a moment.
It’s still so exhausting, though. I have to force myself to not look ahead. Only at the things directly in front of me; one step after the other, stumbling, sliding backwards. My therapist told me he’s impressed that I can keep my motivation up for one or two weeks, that I can get back to it on my own after yet another crash.
I’m just afraid that at some point there will be a crash where I cannot. I’m afraid of all the tasks before me that seem insurmountable. I know they aren’t. Bloody hell, there’s idiots finishing their MSc degree every day and to me it seems I try to win the Nobel Prize. I just wish I had some kind of creative safety net. Something like writing or painting or at least some kind of sport. I do these things but they, too, consume energy, rather than give it to me. Everything needs persuasion.
Sometimes I get so angry at myself for that. But being angry consumes way too much energy.
Currently, my plan is to learn how to deal with those crashes; maybe how to not fall so hard or slip back so often. For now, I’ve given up on not crashing anymore. I know I will. I know it might be like that for the rest of my life and that thought is incredibly scary. But I’ve gotten past so many of them by now – although it doesn’t get any easier maybe I can at least learn to deal with them better.
One tool I found for myself is the “Litany against Fear” (much obliged to Frank Herbert and his magnificent world of “Dune”). I read the first novel when I was actually too young to understand everything but this one aspect stuck in my mind. I now rewrote the Bene Gesserit “Litany against Fear” into a “Litany against Fear and Despondence” (and it was quite difficult to find an adequate noun/verb combination with the meaning of “giving up” to complement the “fear”).
I want to share it, just in case someone else is looking for something to cling to when all other reason fails.
I will not fear.
Fear is the Mind-Killer
I will not despond.
Despondence is the Little-Death,
Leading to Obliteration.
I will face my Fear.
I will face my Despair.
I will let them pass over,
And through me.
I will turn the inner Eye,
To see their Path.
Where they have gone,
There shall be Nothing.
Only I will remain.