Every once in awhile, I’ll snatch a thought that’s lurking quietly around my head, wearing an elaborate costume to disguise itself as The Truth. It sidles up and elbows its way in line between objective facts and neutral observations, hoping that I won’t notice it there. Most of the time, I don’t. My mind hums along, ticking off these thoughts quickly: “I have to do laundry because I have no more socks.” Tick. “The sky is a really beautiful shade of blue today.” Tick. “I am a worthless person, and I can’t do anything right.” Tick. “Zucchini is on sale at the grocery store.” Tick.
Hold the phone. What just happened here?
Depression and self-doubt play some really dirty tricks with our minds, but one of the trickiest is muddling up the boundary between truth and self-perception. It’s like that line in The Usual Suspects: “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist.” Absolutely. Self-doubt and depression do their best to convince us that they don’t exist. That these thoughts of despair are just simple observations to be accepted at face value. If we’re not careful, we believe in the dirty lies that self-hatred feeds us as firmly and unwaveringly as we believe in gravity.
That thought that slid in there so subtly – “I am a worthless person, and I can’t do anything right” – is one of the worst offenders. I spent many years believing that I was legitimately useless and untalented. I could put up a pretty good front to fool the world, but if I slipped up for one moment, it would be like pulling the curtain back on the real “Wizard.” People told me otherwise, but their words grazed right over me. Not until I was faced with the utter despair that this “truth” had created did I begin to name it for what it was.
Reminding ourselves of this is the work of our lives. I really wish that it was a once-and-done type of deal. Much like I feel about cleaning the house. I work really hard, clean every nook and cranny (not really), and collapse into my bed, thinking, “Good, I can check that off my to-do list.” And without fail, two weeks later, when I’m faced with an utter disaster, I think, “You mean I have to do this again?”
Healing is a daily, sometimes hourly, intention. But we eventually learn that it’s not a chore. It’s a beautiful reminder of the truth. The truth of our incomparable, glorious worth, just as we are.
My favorite poem by Rumi, the quote that hangs on the wall by my computer and guides this whole series, is this:
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened.
Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading.
Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
At the end of every day, I want to be able to ask myself, “What did you do today to remind yourself of the truth? What did you do to shut down the lies?” And I want to be able to give a resounding answer.
This is, at the heart of it, what filling the well is all about.