The Real Dawn Revealed

Be free be yourselfNot until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.
  Henry David Thoreau

I’ve been struggling lately. I’ve been struggling just to show up here and tell you what is going on in my life because it’s not been an adventure and it’s about as far from “cool” as the Baja desert in August. I’ve been struggling with whether to share what is happening or whether to struggle and suffer in silence, which is, after all, the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant way. I am slowly realizing, however that struggle is what makes me, makes us all, human. Despite trying to wear her mask, I am not Super Woman, I’m not perfect, and I’m definitely not always together and smiling, skipping down the beach without a care in the world. And along those lines, I think that in many ways this blog has been a front, a pretense, a misrepresentation of who I am.

In an attempt to be honest and real, I gave voice to my struggle last August and you responded positively. With words of encouragement and understanding. I was astounded that a blog that I had considered not publishing because it revealed too much got more comments than any other I’d written. Nevertheless, I figured that once was enough and I’d best tuck the “I’m not happy” line of discussion back into the cave in my heart where I thought it belonged. Hence the silence. It’s hard to maintain the party line about your adventurous life when it’s actually filled with chronic sadness bordering on depression, illness probably brought on by a weakened immune system the result of such sadness, and the literally mind-numbing sensation that you are all alone in that sadness.

If I’m to be honest, I’ve felt like I’m knee deep in liquid cow manure for the last year or so and then in the last few months, the levels rose to somewhere just south of my nose. Sure I’m still breathing, but from where I’m standing, life stinks.

I was literally sick for most of November and all of December, culminating in a serious sinus infection and bronchitis while visiting Canada during the coldest December and early January they’ve experienced in over 30 years. There’s a reason I moved to the tropics and it has a lot to do with those winters. Even if I hadn’t moved here to learn to surf, I would have moved somewhere warm. I was over being cold, catching cold, feeling miserable for so many months out of the year. Did I ever mention on here that I once frost bit all ten of my toes? They were black. Coal black. I gasped when I saw them. But that’s another story for another blog. So you aren’t left in suspense though, I will say I still have all ten of my little piggies. Miraculously.

Canadians who stick it out for the often six months of frigid weather are a tough lot. They grin and bear what for me has become unbearable. The warmth of Baja has made me thin-skinned, a wussy by Canadian standards, but that’s okay. Admitting I’m a wuss is a fair price to pay for sun kissed skin and wearing flip flops 12 months out of the year. But I digress.

My point is this – I was already feeling down and then I got sick with a mild illness that dragged me down another notch and it lasted for what seemed like forever.

I know, this is a bummer post…but I’m not going to apologize for that. I cannot and will no longer try to minimize and cover up what it is that I’m feeling in the deepest recesses of my soul. And I need to show up, I need to share what I’m feeling because I know that I am not alone and that there are countless people the world over feeling isolated, alone, and depressed. Why do you think Philip Seymour Hoffman shot tainted heroin into his veins on Sunday? Many people, like me, are beating themselves up for not being more thankful for what they do have. And I am thankful. I’m so very thankful for the many blessings that my life abounds with. But the reality is that at the end of the day there are some fundamental things that this life of mine needs in order for me to be truly and unabashedly joyful – yeah, that skipping-down-the-beach-singing-a-jaunty-tune kind of joy that I constantly try to convince everyone out there I’m steeped in. I’ve been operating under the premise that if you believe it, I will too. But it’s just another front like the Super Woman mask I put on when I’m feeling insecure and vulnerable, which, to be honest, is most of the time.

I’m doing the work, I’m reading the self-help books that I hope will unearth the demons that plague me, meditating, doing yoga, eating right, getting in the water now that I’m no longer hacking up a lung. Admittedly, while visiting a friend on the west coast recently to get some surf and much needed social interaction, I probably had more tequila than was wise for someone balancing so precariously on the shadowy line between sadness and clinical depression, but the friendship was invaluable, the waves challenging, but fun. I believe it was Thoreau who said that when we are feeling down we must surround ourselves with positive people. So I went and visited one of the most positive people I know, who it just happened was going through his own health crisis and is dry docked for a month in the middle of surf season on his side of the peninsula. Then he got a message about his cousin being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer – two types no less. Nothing like a little perspective to make you see the silver lining around your own cloud.

So I don’t know if it was the perspective adjustment, time in the water, or just time, but I feel better now than I did when I began writing this post a few days ago. Nevertheless, I need to put this out there: sometimes my life sucks. To be more specific, often times, despite how together and happy we appear from the outside looking in, people are often suffering. I think that in North America we’ve lost our tolerance for suffering. The images of perfection we’re fed by The Media tell us to “Fake it ‘til you make it!” Tell us it’s not acceptable to admit our frailties, our fears, our weaknesses. Tell us to put the Super Man or Super Woman mask on and smile. But that’s a lie, one that hurts the liar and the deceived alike because it’s not who we really are, it’s not how we’re really feeling. If people knew how we were really feeling, they might reach out and offer us a hand – encouragement, a compassionate ear, a hug.

I haven’t shown up here for three months because I couldn’t muster the strength to dawn the mask. As I write these last sentences though, I’m feeling better, more honest, truer to myself. Ironically, it seems I’m made stronger by losing the mask.

22 thoughts on “The Real Dawn Revealed

    • Thank you Andrea. I’m trying…baby steps. Thanks so much for your support during this difficult process. You are such a good friend. Hard to believe we still haven’t met face to face. oxox right back

  1. can only say been there, done that many times, and now I’m 75, and still here, still being challenged, but actually loving being alive and starting a new life and new relationship…
    You will get there, and writing about it helps and clarifies I think…bon voyage

    • Thank you for sharing your experience Valerie! Yes, once I got over the fear of being open and honest about what I’m going through it was very therapeutic to write about it. There is some debate out there about whether we should be sharing the active therapy, but you know what? If it lets even one person out there know that there’s someone else going through something similar, then I think it’s worth sharing. And wow! a new relationship!! Exciting!! Congratulations and good for you for continuing to reach out and be open to the possibilities.

  2. Wish I had known Dawn, I was only down the road and would loved to have helped. Now we will have to communicate at a distance. So glad you are feeling a little stronger and healthier. I am always only an email away, the support is always
    there my friend.

    • Oh Sue, I could barely admit it to myself. I thank you sincerely for the offer of support and now know that you are in my corner. We must get together for some tea when you are back in town! ox

  3. Hey Dawn, just remember, anybody would go crazing living down there all by themselves, year after year. We need to get you up here in the Bay Area, surfing, going to dinner, meeting people, etc. In a matter of weeks, you’d be right back on the horse. Let me know what Karen and I can do if that is what you want (job leads, apartments, etc.). Talk soon.

  4. Dawn, I’m so sorry you’re going through such depression. I hope you’re talking to somebody on a regular basis. Maybe your life is too solitary and what that beautiful world you live in is good for is for part of the year not the whole year? Of course, that might not have anything to do with it. People are depressed all over the planet. I hope you figure it out soon and, yes, talk to us here if that helps! xoxo

    • Thanks Luanne. Yes, it is too solitary and I’m not having my needs met. I’ll write more about that in my next post. I have people I can reach out to, definitely, and I do. I’m also taking the steps necessary to get out of here more often. I’ll be off to volunteer at the San Francisco Writers Conference in two weeks and that is always a major shot in the arm. The inspiration gained there usually lasts at least a couple of months. Like I said, I’ll share more about the source of my sadness soon.

      • OK, I’m really glad to hear you’re going to be doing the conference. I so wish I could get there! It sounds like a blast!! xo

      • Gosh Dawn, It seems you;re getting better already. I always wondered what those ” No Bad Days” stickers meant. All our love, Johnny

      • Yes John, you’re right! I am feeling better…and writing about it is helping, but hearing from good friends and family is even better! Love to you both! ox

  5. Depression is one of those things that can creep up on you, but the ridding of which is as priceless as it can be challenging. Depression is the denial of life, one’s own life, including one’s passion and creativity. Glad you are working through it.

    I think the key could be having people who will listen to you and ask the occasional right question. I am convinced this is why bartenders and prostitutes are so popular, because we seek what we need, the trained ear to our grief, and we’ll be goddamned if we’ll go see a clinical professional. Better to be a john or an alcoholic, those somehow noble sins which presumably reflect our character flaws, than dare to see a therapist who might take a scalpel to the cruft around our heads.

    It’s so great when the clouds above our heads clear, hope yours are clearing out well.

    • Great insight Eric. I am fortunate to have a friend who is a really great life coach (check her out – her name is Andrea Mauer and she commented below) who helps me out a lot when things get tough. She’s incredibly intuitive and completely non-judgmental.

      I am not adverse to going to a therapist at all if 1) I could afford one and 2) there was one nearby who came highly recommended and whom I clicked with – a tall order for sure where I live.

      Thanks again for your comment! I hope you’ll continue to read and comment…I will be posting again before too long – a follow-up to this post.

  6. I love you. You don’t hear from me often enough, but I think of you often. You are one of those rare people – a gem – who touched my life and made me a better person. You are brave and strong and you will get through this. Keep sharing, reaching out and listen to your heart. You are brave enough to make the changes you need to stay healthy and find happiness once more. It is not weak to admit your not perfect – quite the opposite. It is the weak that need the world to think they are perfect, that their life is better than everyone else’s. You are a fighter, always have been. I’ll say it again…I love you my dear far away friend. I’m here anytime you want to talk. Please feel the warmth of my love in your heart and imagine my arms around you for a hug.

    Ali xoxox

    • Dear Ali,
      Your words just brought a tear to my eye. Thank you…from the bottom of my heart. I helps to know you are there and thinking about me. It’s easy to forget how many friends I have when I never get to see you! Thank you for the reminder.

      That strength & bravery stuff? That’s the mask I was talking about – I’m not as tough and brave as I pretend to be. Under the mask is a woman who often feels lost and scared that the world & life are passing her by. But I’m doing the work…I’m slowly healing this broken part of myself. And with the support of friends like you, I know I can. I love you too sweet friend. ox

  7. Dawn, I noticed you were not your usual upbeat self when you were home at Christmas but I chalked it up to you being sick. I’m actually surprised it took this long for you to realize that seclusion is not for you. While we all enjoy some time to ourselves now and then, to live in isolation as you do can most certainly take its toll. There is no need to ‘fake it’ as you say; your true friends and your family want you to be honest; there is no shame in feeling insecure and vulnerable … it makes you human.

    Only you know what ‘fundamental things’ are missing from your life. I believe that recognizing what is missing is the first step to enable you to make the necessary changes so that you don’t have to put on that mask.

    In the meantime, you know I’m only a phone call away and if you’re looking for more family time, I’ve got a spare room with your name on it. If there’s anything at all i can do, Dawn, just say the word. I’ll do anything i can to help you put that skip back in your step.

    Love you and miss you,

    • Thank you Wendy!!

      I’ve known that the isolation was getting to me for a while now, but it really reached a head this summer/fall.

      I’ll explain what the “fundamental things” are in my next post. Not an easy one to fix…but I’m working on it.

      I love you too big sister! Wish making a phone call was easier. 🙂


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