Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Doldrums

The Doldrums.  Wikipedia defines it as, "a colloquial expression derived from historical maritime usage, which refers to those parts of the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean affected by the Intertropical Convergence Zone, a low-pressure area around the equator where the prevailing winds are calm. The doldrums are also noted for calm periods when the winds disappear altogether, trapping sail-powered boats for periods of days or weeks."

It is also my happy place.  Well, as happy of a place as I have any way.

I have been working with my therapist on how to deal with those moments when I find myself in an emotional state that has become overwhelming.  Sometimes this is anxiety, but more often than not lately, the past year anyway, it is a deep sadness and profound sense of self loathing.  When the spiral down into this state becomes a direct, uncontrollable plummet to the-world-sucks-I-suck-nothing-is-ever-going-to-improve-because-I-am-rotten-unworthy-and-I-deserve-nothing-good-let's-just-dwell-forever-in-the-land-of-Shitsville.

When, in a recent session, I was asked to close my eyes and imagine a place that made me feel calm. My mind went right to the middle of the Atlantic; specifically the Doldrums (yes, there is some irony here...).  It is a part of the sea where the swells and long and low, and the air can be utterly still.  There is no land in sight.  Just open sky and a massive, infinite expanse of blue water.  There is also a sense of surrender, because when you are in this place, you are thousands of miles from anywhere and if something were to happen, you have only the resources at hand to deal with it.

For someone who has control issues this has the potential to be quite terrifying. But for me, floating along on a ship through the middle of the Atlantic there was also a deep feeling of letting go; a peacefulness that I, one who is ever watchful for the next catastrophe, had not experienced before. I'm not sure I recognized it at the time, but when asked to take my mind to the place that brought me the most peace, something inside of me certainly did.

I've spent a lot of time in the Doldrums this past week.  Taking my mind to that peaceful place on the sea, taking lots of deep breaths, trying, trying, trying to recenter and remind myself that the only thing I have any control over is me.

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