Valentines and Opening Your Heart in a Judgmental World

Do you see the hands over the city through the trees? I woke up very early and this immediately caught my eye and brought me comfort, making me think of my mother watching over me.

I had an interesting discussion with some good friends recently about my sharing so openly my struggles with depression and anxiety. Aren’t you afraid that people will say cruel things about you? My friend brought up a good point; the world is not a very kind and compassionate place these days, and people can be quick to judge. However, I made the decision when I began this blog that I would share my life openly in the hopes that someone dealing with similar struggles might be encouraged or at least know that they are not alone.Marley, a truly great dog.

I have had several students over the years who deal with crippling anxiety and depression, and many have written to thank me for sharing honestly- that’s enough for me to open my heart and write. There is nothing to be ashamed of; anxiety and depression are not something we choose to live with by any means. It is the human experience to ebb and flow, struggle, learn, and- hopefully-evolve. Each time I go through a time of darkness, I learn so much about myself- and about the kindness of others who show compassion by sending messages and gestures of encouragement when I need them most. I will always do my best to return that kindness. Yes, the world can be a cruel place, but there is so much good out there, too.

And then there’s this guy, my Dan, one of the most gentle and loving men I have ever known. He has been incredibly supportive as I’ve struggled, doing everything he can to help me find my way back through the maze of anxiety and depression. He made our Valentines Day extra special this year, starting with beautiful white roses the day before. Such a nice surprise to come home to after a long day.

On the morning of Valentines Day, I woke up to a beautiful card on my nightstand (Dan is like the Tooth Fairy of greeting cards- very stealth).

At lunch, he made me a heart-shaped grilled cheese sandwich (which he actually does all the time- he says every day is Valentines Day at Chez Gainey). Those little caring things make such a difference in a relationship, for sure. Even a grilled cheese sandwich becomes a gourmet experience with Dan at the helm.

I had to work late and was feeling overwhelmed and anxious at the end of the day. It all melted away after a lovely, peaceful, and romantic evening. Dan gave me yet another beautiful card that was filled with words of love and encouragement. We sat by the fire on the sunporch and talked and laughed, and then made a wonderful Italian dinner, capped off with the delectable chocolate covered strawberries that Dan had made for us. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect-for-us Valentines Day. Marley and Shiva joined us by the fire…

One day, one breath at a time, I will work my way through this. Medication is slowly helping, as is talking with my therapist, meditation, yoga, running with Marley, and just remembering to stop and breathe- really breathe. I am deeply grateful for the words of encouragement and compassion from my husband, friends, colleagues, and from many of you- thank you so much. Shiva in the music room…Signs of spring as the irises begin to wake up…hope!

6 thoughts on “Valentines and Opening Your Heart in a Judgmental World

  1. Thank you so much for your decision to share openly. It seems to me that sometimes the worst judgment individuals feel when in the midst of challenge that is accompanied by emotional and physical discomfort is to judge themselves, thinking they’ve done something or are somehow wrong to be experiencing that at this moment. They can feel they are not enough and they are failures or they wouldn’t be feeling like this. They think that successful, privileged people in loving and supportive relationships would never feel this way or face these same challenges. Your brave, gentle, loving posts show that being a human sometimes can entail feeling anxiety and depression. Sharing the remarkable success you’ve accomplished and the bounty of emotional, spiritual,and material riches of your life along with these very real challenges helps us to see that anxiety and depression can sometimes be part of being a person and happen apart from the external manifestations of our lives. Your sharing is a great gift.

  2. I think it’s true that most of the time the people who care so much and come across so happy often have difficult battles going on inside them. We get very good at hiding it but it’s so important to open up and work through the struggles with help from people that love you. I truly appreciate seeing your posts about it because there are times it reminds me that even the best of us, that we would never expect to experience this, go through it as well.

    1. Thank you so much, Tabitha. Writing helps me to sort through things better than anything I’ve found. I do hope that it might help someone to know that someone who is successful and living a happy and fulfilling life also can go through things like this. We’re all human, all doing the best we can. ❤️

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