The Gift of Presence

Since I initially had serious depression 35 years ago, I’ve had doubts regarding guidance. Those that made an effort to help me did so with good intentions. However, the majority of the time, what they did made me feel worse.

Some turned to nature for relief: “Why don’t you go outdoors and take in the fresh air and sunshine? Everything is in blossom, and the day is so lovely! Intellectually, you are aware that the world is wonderful even when you are depressed. However, because your feelings are dead, you are unable to experience any of that beauty, and being made aware of this gap is disheartening.

Others who wanted to assist me tried to improve my perception of myself: “Why are you so negative? You’ve been very helpful to many many. However, when you’re down, the only voice you can hear is the one telling you that you’re a fake whore. These praises made me feel as though I had once again cheated someone, which made me depressed even more: “If he knew what a worm I am, he’d never talk to me again.”

Let’s get to it. The human soul does not desire guidance, correction, or salvation. It only desires to be observed, heard, and company in its whole. The only resources that can assist the sufferer get through are the healing abilities of the soul, which are strengthened when we bend deeply to the soul of someone who is in pain.

Yes, that is the problem. Many of us who identify as “helps” are just as, if not more, concerned with our reputation as excellent helpers than we are with meeting the person’s deepest needs. We frequently lack the time and patience required for witnessing and companioning, particularly when we are in the presence of suffering that is so excruciatingly painful that we can hardly stand to be there, as if we were in danger of contracting an infectious disease. We want to “fix” the problem, then go, believing that we have done all possible to “rescue” the other person.