A story of suffering, of the hero journey that we can undertake if we choose it, and an offer of help.
I was deeply agoraphobic. For almost a year I could not leave the house, and there were years and years of the deepest depression before that. I couldn’t go outside, basically ever. Except, somewhat oddly, to go to work. At work for that particular time I could feel well, even gregarious, outgoing, engaging. Because I had a purpose. I loved it there. I was helping create technology to connect people. But I could only drive to work and back. I could never go anywhere else. Not to a restaurant, not to a grocery store, not deviate one single block away. And, once I was at home, I could not even go on my back deck, or approach the front door with a panic attack ensuing. The depression had escalated so much that at times I could not even go down the hall into the kitchen of my apartment. I could only stay on one corner of my sofa in the living room. I was terrified of evenings and weekends, the thought of the long hours yawned in front of me and were terrifying. I had all my food delivered – in San Francisco you can have everything delivered.
I hid this pretty well, almost nobody knew the depth of what was happening. I practiced and practiced, and became very good at putting on smiles, paying for it later. Not for nefarious reasons, but I thought this was what I must do. Huge taboos exist around mental illness, around ego, around the safety of our job – fear within fear within fear, all the way down.
I remember the first time when I began to feel. To feel something other than constant terror, or the infinite dullness of depression. I had got to a place where I could be outside short distances from my house. I was walking down my block, headed home, and I stopped. Just about 200 feet from my house. And I stayed there. I leant back against the wall of the grocery store, and just hung out. This was revolutionary. It felt like I had complete freedom in that moment to stand and just *be*. It had been a very long time since I was able to do that, normally I raced home as fast as possible to avoid terror attacks.
I share this because there were so very many times when I almost gave up. But I didn’t. I kept exploring, I kept practicing, I kept putting one step in front of each other. I came to name this indefatigable energy my tiger. A golden yellow molten tiger, made of steel. Tiger is that inner energy that kept taking one step, one step, one step. One paw down. One paw up. One paw down. One paw up. Even when I didn’t know who I was or where I was in the midst of that deep panic, tiger kept walking. Even when I was sitting on that corner seat of my sofa in the living room, unable to move for the oppressive panic and depression, tiger kept walking. Kept me breathing. I look back at the distance I traveled, and large swathes of it were spent almost unconscious from the deafening screaming terror in my head, yet tiger traveled one million billion miles, one paw in front of the other, and carried me on his back, wordlessly.
Through a massive number of twists and turns in my journey, discovering so many tools, trying everything, falling back countless times, spending months at a time hunkering down, then finding one by one a sequence that worked for me, I have come to a place of utter transformation today. Today, every day, I explore this world and the beautiful beings in it, and my heart and entire being is filled with a bottomless well of joy. It spills over into my face, as I grin and grin and grin. Fascinated by all the things around me, I look with joy at all the things.
Today I travel with my tiger, side by side. We lope along the path. Tiger is content, as he always has been. Today I too am full in my contentment. He acknowledges me as he steps along our path, his spine flexing comfortably. I grin back. No words are needed these days. We are content to enjoy this trail through the forest, looking at the leaves. Wonder what’s around the next bend! Race you to find out! We arrive breathlessly enjoying the trail beneath our feet. It matters not what is around the bend. Sometimes it’s a forest fire, sometimes it’s a lake to swim across, sometimes it’s a meadow, sometimes a tarpit. It’s all ok. I’m ok. Not just ok, but full of joy and wonder.
If you are in a place in life where you are looking to change, if you are looking to consciously create freedom, to make different choices, I offer my support. A wonderful set of teachers and coaches helped me along my path, each sharing their own wisdom. I would like to do the same, and provide help by helping you see your innate goodness. We all need help. Reach out to me on my website https://coyotejackson.com/coaching
Some time when you are out walking, turn around and walk backwards. It’s intense to watch how far we’ve come (it’s a lot more interesting and intense than it sounds!). In this moment I feel appreciation for myself, and for every one of you here. You are amazing. My tiger is strong. Your tiger is strong too. Feed him, nourish him. Appreciate him. Your tiger is amazing. You are amazing. Since of course you and your tiger are one.