“People with depression…need a great deal from others, but we are embarrassed and confused by our needs so we don’t articulate them well…instead keeping secret wishes locked in our hearts…We depressives have trouble giving up the idea that there is a secret to happiness that others know and we don’t, that others could make us happy if they loved us enough, but out of perversity choose not to.” Undoing Depression, Richard O’Connor, Ph. D
As long as I can remember I have lived with the feeling that I simultaneously needed too much from others, and shouldn’t need anything at all. Talk about a dog chasing its tail! (Yeah, you should definitely look that up on youtube next time you need to stop your mind.) Cutting yourself off from acknowledging your real needs, if only to yourself, is no way to live. That’s why depression feels so bad. Needing and receiving become threatening when you stuff them both into Pandoras Box.
“Gratitude …is a feeling or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive,” according to Wikipedia contributors. It sounds simple. Acknowledge the tenderness of your (perhaps unspoken) need to another who has (perhaps unwittingly) supplied your want. Here is the elegant reciprocity that makes life feel good – acknowledgement creates a bond between giver and receiver which nourishes both. Experiencing gratitude, however, presents an especially poignant difficulty for someone in my situation. The deeper, the more basic the want, the trickier it is for me to admit to anyone, at all.
At the bottom of Pandoras Box, though, I think I have discovered a trap door. It is labelled “grace.” The magic words that unlock this door are “free” and “unmerited.” Grace is closely intertwined with mercy and forgiveness, and honors the reality that you don’t earn everything you receive in life. To my mind, grace levels the playing field where we all hash out the insecurities of fear and indebtedness. “You’re gonna need a few things,” Grace says. “Everyone does. Do your best with what’s here for you already, and then let’s see what you’ve got to give.”