The Struggle Bus

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Do you ever have days where you just don’t want to get out of bed? I’m not talking about mornings where it’s either snowing or raining outside and the warmth of your bed entices you to stay put, I’m talking about having an overwhelming feeling of “what’s the point” that you literally almost can’t even put one foot on the ground.  Well, maybe can’t isn’t a fair word.  It feels like can’t, but what I know today is that it’s actually won’t.  Can’t lives on won’t street, or so the saying goes.  I’ve had lots of those days in the past and the truth is that I still struggle with some of those days, but today, I know I just have to pull my butt out of bed and start the day.  Easier said than done, right? Absolutely.  For those who haven’t struggled with true depression, not just being down in the dumps or being sad, but true depression, getting out of bed might be the most difficult task we face in a day.

Earlier this week I was talking to a friend about how successful she is compared to her situation only a few years ago.  “Yeah, I was on the struggle bus for a long time,” she said.  I immediately perked up, “Oh, I’m stealing that!” And so I have.

You see, you don’t really know you’re on the struggle bus when you’re on it; it just feels like day to day life.  While we were talking about all  of the difficulties of her life and how she overcame it, I was reminded of a scene in the Marsha Norman play/movie called ‘Night Mother.  If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s about a woman, Sissy Spacek, who decides to end her life and spend the last few hours with her mother, doing some of her favorite things and explaining her life to her mother.  In one scene, she compares her depression and suicide to her mother to a ride on the bus.

“Mama, I know you used to ride the bus. Riding the bus, and it’s hot and bumpy and crowded and too noisy, and more than anything else in the world, you wanna get off. And the only reason in the world you don’t get off is it’s still fifty blocks from where you’re going. Well, I can get off right now if I want to. Because even if I ride fifty more years and get off then, it’s still the same place when I step down to it. Whenever I feel like it, I can get off. Whenever I’ve had enough, it’s my stop. I’ve had enough.”

The truth is, I’ve felt like that a lot in my life.  My previous strong fear of death and maybe a lack of spiritual foundation kept me on the bus for a long time.  I was too afraid to die but lacked the desire to continue to live.  Maybe a little bit too much information for those who think I’m deeply inspirational and motivational, har har, but I believe in turning our wounds into wisdom and that truth is nested in my deep seated wounds.

Like my friend, I no longer feel stuck on the bus anymore.  I’m not sure what happened but one day I decided to get off.  I remember a few years ago, I would come home every day and sit on the front porch, smoking cigarettes and playing solitaire on my phone.  My husband Alex would come out and wave at me several times before going to bed.  After a solid two months, he came home one day, cheerful as usual, something I despised because I couldn’t relate or gain his sense of happiness, and told me that he felt for me and wished he could help me, but he could not.  He also could not go on living every day with the thought of coming home to my being depressed on the front porch while he sat powerless inside, unable to help me through my pain.

The funny thing is I’m not really sure what got me out on that front porch in the first place.  I had one bad day that led to another and another and after awhile, that was just where I went.  There was solitude on that swing that pushed my thoughts back and forth until all I became was my thoughts.  But, I was unwilling to lose my relationship.   If only for my marriage I was willing to get my butt off of the swing and try to slowly start living life again.

It didn’t happen overnight.  I believe I suffer from genetic depression on my mother’s side and see myself in her past behaviors in many ways, something that has been scary to admit as I get older.  I started practicing the things I was telling my clients to do which seemed to work for them.  I started practicing daily gratitude lists.  I studied and believed in my spiritual foundation.  I got my ass back into Alcoholics Anonymous, a place which had always been refuge for me, and I started getting involved.  I believe in many ways that even though I hadn’t had a sip of alcohol in over fifteen years that I was suffering from untreated alcoholism.  I started interacting with my husband.

And most importantly, I started taking ownership of my own life.  MY life! I suddenly realized, and such a really small thing it was, that if I was going to be positive and happy, that I had to take back control of my own life.  Wow, what a concept. What I found was that it was really so much easier to just get up, show up, trust my higher power and start living positively.  If I really believed that life was short and I had to make the most of it, something I had learned from my mother’s death, than sitting on the front porch wasn’t getting me where I wanted to be.

An incredible thing happened over the next few months.  I started making some incredible new friends who believed and thought the same way I did and were focused on living happy lives. I changed my tribe to being around people who were creative, positive and looked at life as a powerful challenge, here for the experience of growth.  I woke up most days renewed with promise and hopefulness.  I became incredibly creative again, writing a book and even getting it published.  In fact, I had so many ideas for blogs, videos, books, etc that it was difficult to narrow down my projects.  My clients seemed to react to me in a much different way and their growth seemed much improved as well.

Most importantly, I found peace of mind.  I realized that anything was possible and that a life lived happily, although a struggle sometimes, was worth the work.   I absolutely love my life today.  I truly believe I had to go through the pain to get to the other side.  It was completely worth it.

It’s been a few years since those bleak days and I don’t wake up like that anymore.  Sure, I have days where I’m sad or lonely, but I know how to handle them today.  And most importantly, I know today that it’s my responsibility to change the outcome if I don’t want to live that way anymore. Trust me, I still like to bitch and complain, maybe not as much as I used to, but I just don’t want to live in the negative anymore.  Really, what’s the point.

I’ve exited the struggle bus.  I see it from time to time, riding around town, and I know people who are stuck inside, sitting on the hot vinyl seats, unable to move.  But for me, I’ve traded in my bus pass.

Today I choose to walk…and so can you.

Much love,

Peter

P.S. I’d love it if you followed me!

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And make sure to check out my book The Before Now and After Then

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One comment

  1. I think it took me a long time to realize there were doors to exit from. I love the concept of the “struggle bus”. While you’re IN it though, it really does feel bleak! But figuring out how to walk on through is an amazing triumph. Glad you found your way…. and it’s awesome you’re helping others do the same! Thank you for the post. Wonderful read!

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