Be the Lotus: Rise Above the Muddy Ponds

Pond (verb): To hold back or dam up  (google.com)

There are a lot of sad people in the world, struggling with life in such a way that they can barely get out of bed. Each little event that happens that is not in their favor eats away at them and causes misery. The misery starts what I call a "ponding" effect.

I call this ponding because I believe the misery "ponds" and holds one back from living their best life. Situations that start the ponding effect could be from situations like someone not getting the job they want, the relationship they want, the amount of money they want or the body they want in the amount of time they want it in. When they don't get what they want when they want it, ponding occurs and ultimately stunt their growth. The three areas of life where you see growth being stunted is in Social Skills, Spirituality and Stamina.

  • Social Skills: One may quit social media because seeing others happiness creates feelings of jealousy. They may still go out with friends and family, but they aren't ever quite "present". Their mind is often wandering. This happens because they don't want to hear what others are talking about because their pain is more tolerable than someone else's happiness. In extreme ponding situations, they may start to be reclusive, staying at home more and more because being around others that are happy, makes them sad.

 

  • Spirituality: Many believe God (or whatever they believe in) has abandoned them in their misery and they start to abandon their spirituality. They may still pray and attend spiritual services, but they abandon true belief and uphold very little of the teachings they are taught at the services.

 

  • Stamina: They may keep trying to put themselves out there (job applications, going out with friends and family, spiritual center visits), but it's not consistent. One painful event, like not getting a job, may spark them to apply for another one, but the spark quickly fades. Their motivation dwindles. In extreme ponding cases, they may start to not be able to get out of bed, the bathtub or the house.

It is a known fact that the lotus flower roots in muddy ponds, yet somehow rises above the murky water. When this happens, it blooms into a beautiful and magnificent flower. Humans need to take a clue from the lotus flower and stop being held back by the muddy water, and start rising above it. That sounds easier said than done, but I promise you, it is possible.

I can say this because I've allowed ponding to occur in my life. It started to happen right before my 30th birthday. For whatever reason, I had it in my mind that by the time I was 30 I would have my dream job, my dream home, my dream children, my dream family, and my dream relationship. I had the almost dream home and the dream relationship, but felt I lacked the job, the children and the family. I had a great job teaching in a classroom, but I felt, in my heart, it wasn't what I was supposed to be doing with my life. The job affected me from having children, as I never felt I would be able to dedicate enough time to my own children when I taught a room full of them. So, the one strike against what I thought I should have job wise, became two. As far as the dream family, I didn't even know what that was, therefore couldn't attain it.

Where I was teaching at the time was mentally exhausting. When a child comes to you and tells you their mom went to jail the night before and now they are living at grandma's house, you don't know what to do other than feel pain and empathy for the child. With this happening time and time again, it started to eat at me. I knew I was in desperate need of leaving this school and tried everything I could think of to get me out of the situation. When it didn't happen fast enough, I allowed each thing that happened at school to start ponding. As far as my dream family situation, I thought I was supposed to have a mom, dad, siblings and grandparents all around all the time, encouraging me and being happy with life. I didn't see that happening and when I tried to attain it, it started to fade away no matter what I tried. I became very miserable.

No one, except my husband, saw me being miserable, as I developed an ability to put a smile on my face no matter what, at a very early age. Inside my head though, there was a lot of sadness. I started to retreat and pull away from social situations. I felt like everyone else was winning the race in happiness and my inner winner was falling flat. I still prayed to God, but my spirituality dwindled, causing my faith to vanish. My stamina was depleted. I was still able to work normally, but would often call in sick. The misery was physically making me sick. When I was home, I remember crying so hard sometimes that I'd lay on the bathroom floor and the only way I was able to stand again was because of my husband picking me up. He was my light and together, we decided I needed help. I made an appointment with my doctor and decided to try a round of anti-depressants. I had been on them before, so I knew this was probably my best option at the time. I experimented with several types until I found one that worked.

I was on an anti-depressant for 4-5 years until I found myself back to therapy, and was introduced to meditation, yoga and reiki energy healing. A couple of years ago, I spoke to my doctor about going off the medication, as I felt I was ready. I was weaned off them safely and am happy to say my sadness is gone and I no longer allow ponding to occur. I learned from my experiences. When things don't go my way now, I understand it is for a reason. I understand that you should learn from pain and misery. You should feel it, but not allow it to pond or hold you back.

In hindsight, I now see in the school situation that I was the positive role model the kids desperately needed, because no matter what, I never allowed my sadness to enter the classroom. I developed a deep level of empathy because of those children. Their sad stories could top most adults sad stories. I gained more creativity than ever because those particular children helped me develop many cartoon and puppetry characters that I know will surface in my career again at some point.

In my family situation, I know I already have my dream family. I am happy with it being just my husband, my pets, a few family members that love me no matter what, and friends that are like family. I realize I used to compare my family situation to what other "normal" families looked like. In talking to people over the years that I thought had a "normal" family, I've learned there are there are no "normal" families. We all need to create the family situation that works for us and let go of comparing our family to others.

As far as children, I still don't have my own and am fine with that. Thought I am no longer teaching, I've decided I used to think I should have children because it's what I thought women were supposed to do. I love kids (my niece and nephew are the coolest!), but I don't believe having my own is in the cards for me. If I change my mind in the future (as I'm not getting any younger), adoption is always something I've been interested in and maybe that will be my path.

I write this blog with complete and utter openness. I am who I am. I wish I had never allowed my sadness and misery to affect me in the way that it did, but it happened and maybe it's for a reason. Maybe it all happened so I could become the lotus myself and get to a place where I wasn't afraid to share my experience with others. Maybe I am here to help you recognize ponding in your life and help you stop it before it controls your life.

I encourage anyone that may read this to be open as well. If you see ponding occurring in your life, you can become the lotus too. Find a doctor, a therapist, a spiritual center or a friend or a relative and tell them what is going on inside your brain. Muddy waters are, in fact, a part of life. Things happen that are beyond our control and we must strive to rise from the murky waters and bloom.

 Art by Carolyn J. Braden

Art by Carolyn J. Braden