I just got off the phone with a great friend who was kind enough to transparently invite me to listen attentively to some of his struggle with feelings of depression. At one point, he even asks me, “Depression is anger turned inward, right?” I sense deep gratitude rising within me for my friend’s candor and willingness to take a risk making the phone call to me this morning. His call simply strikes me as so sadly uncommon. Most people choose to live in isolation.
Here is a man who I have growing tremendous professional and personal respect for who has a dynamic gift for being with people in some very profound ways. He is actively acknowledging that he has feelings of anger toward himself which are often triggered by a variety of external elements he encounters everyday. Let me add that my friend has been through a dramatic transition recently that has him living in a brand new city, surrounded by brand new people, doing similar but altogether different work than he had formerly enjoyed. And in this new season of life he is honestly admitting that he would rather stay in bed most mornings. That he would rather not get up to run or take a shower. That he feels a bit more adrift than he would ever prefer.
Here’s the thing that makes my heart soar. He pushed the discomfort and insecurity and he called a trusted friend. He admitted these things vulnerably. He owned his own reality and misperceptions. He is admittedly depressed yet he genuinely wants to take better care of himself. How often do most of us simply add another heap of shame and guilt on top of ourselves when we are already operating below the emotional waterline and struggling for a breath of hope to fill our lungs. No, our natural tendency is sadly to strap on more weight than we could ever bear and then wonder why we can not seem to breathe.
Self care is vital because it involves the necessary unburdening of ourselves from the unnecessary weight that we choose to carry. One of the most beautiful ways that we care for the self is to thoughtfully and prayerfully invite others into those places where shame and guilt keep us trapped in lies. Sitting transparently before a trusted friend to explore the vulnerable places in your story gives you permission to be more human. It facilitates our loosening our grip on having to be a superhero. It leads us to a deeper place of knowing and being known.
Just this week, my aforementioned brave friend modeled for me how to care better for my “self” that God has given me to steward, attend to, nurture and care for. As a result, I found the rare courage to take a similar risk of mine sharing some painful content with a dear friend over chips and salsa. His words? Me too.