When the melancholy comes, it creeps in, slowly, quietly, walking with silent footsteps on the forest floor of my heart. I have learned to spot it in my peripheral vision before it is too close, so now I know it’s coming. But I haven’t learned to detect it before it begins its quiet walk, and I haven’t figured out how to stop it.
I’m not sure I’m meant to stop it. It’s part of me. It doesn’t live with me always but rather comes to visit from time to time. It’s not malicious, but it can be scary.
I know with time it will move along, and I will be ok and feel lighter again. But it’s not like a riot in my soul* that leaves me in a new, life-filed place once the dust settles. It’s curious because unlike the soul riots which are much more violent and can shake me up inside, melancholy just comes and sits quietly next to me on the sofa. Or follows me to work. Or stands with me in line at the Post Office. And I start to feel very, very sad and unsure of just about everything. I don’t feel grounded, and I don’t know when it will pass.
I am grateful that when melancholy comes, it doesn’t completely overtake me. In fact, most people would never know what I’m feeling. But I feel it and have to work my way through it until it passes.
About a year and a half ago, I came across 2 passages that I marked with the words “when in trouble,” and more often than not, if it gets to that point with the melancholy, I remember to pull Melody Beattie’s “Journey to the Heart” off my shelf and turn to the marked pages. Tonight I was deeply impacted by a part of the first marked passage – but by some lines I had not underlined, and I could not help but smile. “Living with an open heart means we stay present for ourselves and feel as much as we can, as much as we need to.” As I type this to share here, it hits me even more: melancholy is part of it, part of this Life with an Open Heart adventure. Maybe that’s totally obvious, but it’s never been clear in quite this way to me before.
As I flip again to the second passage to see if I want to write about it here, I re-read, “Go out, and embrace your connection.” Yes. That is why I am here. Compassion, connection, an open heart, and the courage and strength to stay on the journey.
So I am extra grateful for connection and open-heartedness tonight. That’s you. And the Universe. And God. And my friend I reached out to earlier to say my heart was hurting. And the loved one I reached out to earlier to say this is where I am right now. Thank you for being here with me in this moment in time.
I’m feeling myself smile more as I write this. I think I might even share something that I love and that I feel describes me in some ways, but I don’t want it to sound arrogant, and I’m not really cool enough to share it, but I love it. I love it because everything I feel I tend to feel really deeply. And mostly that’s good, but sometimes, boy, I could stand to feel just a little less. But I wouldn’t change it about myself. I choose to believe I inherited it from my dear grandmother, this deep-feeling-heart-laid-bare-heart-on-sleeve-ness. My cousin has it, too. And my sweet son. So here it is, at the risk of sounding silly – but maybe silly is good, especially if it helps lead the way out of melancholy’s forest. Here’s to open hearts, sensitivity, deep feeling, and even dear melancholy.