I’ve been back for 21 days and can’t tell you how great it has been. I’m happy, I’m not depressed! To explain, I have suffered from depression for almost 47 years, with only the last 11 years being my reprieve. As a child I had an un-diagnosed thyroid condition that I had mentioned in an earlier blog and S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) from the lack of Vitamin D and sunshine which both directly contributed to my being very depressed. But, I didn’t know any of this and instead feared that I was just a really sick person since no one else in my family seemed to be affected. I had also been sexual abused as a child but had no memories of it until I was 37 years old which I’m certain you would agree would make one depressed. So, after finally learning how to love myself from the inside out through the love, support and encouragement from Steve, I have begun to experience joy and true happiness for the first time in my life. I know how to have fun and how to share my love just for the sake of sharing it, not for anyone’s approval which is a very new concept for someone like me. In fact having fun wasn’t in my repertoire for the last 20 years but of course have had pockets of fun here and there but mostly felt depressed and felt like I did not really belong anywhere. But getting involved in the gay community here in Palm Springs has fed my need to belong, to give and to be a part of something bigger than myself and to play. I am part of a big family now and I feel loved and cared for on a very deep level. I have so much fun in Palm Springs that I am known for my happiness, which is really quite amazing!
I don’t want to diss my Family of Origin but all of my siblings agree that none of us ever felt close or safe with each other and feel like we each grew up alone, much like an only child. We also do not have any memories of having fun as a family which is so incredibly sad. So, I think if you don’t see fun, its hard to re-create fun! Leaving “my Palm Springs Family”, who were so much behind me regarding this trip was incredibly difficult. I felt like I had a lot riding on it and really expected it to be hard, but at the same time, fun. After being away from home for 6 weeks I am constantly being asked “How was your trip, I’ll bet you had so much fun!” To which one would most likely answer, “Yes, I sure did!” but in this case I had to stop myself from agreeing and in that moment of hesitation would honestly say, “No, not really!” which of course always got a strange look. At first I didn’t really understand my reply until I started to really analyze why I was saying “no” versus “yes”. I mean I did have some very pleasant times both with and without other Pilgrims and I met some lovely people and saw some amazing sights, but truthfully, I didn’t have fun. What I have come to grips with is that I wasn’t really on a vacation, but instead was on a Pilgrimage or a Crusade of sorts. So, you know me by now, I went to Wikipedia to see what they had to say about the word Pilgrimage which is what I was on. And here’s what I found:
A pilgrimage is a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance. A pilgrimage, in religion and spirituality, is a long journey or search of great moral significance, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person’s beliefs and faith, although sometimes it can be a metaphorical journey into someone’s own beliefs. A person who makes such a journey is called a pilgrim. In the early 21st century the numbers of people of all faiths making pilgrimages has continued to rise, with 39 of the most popular sites alone receiving an estimated 200 million visitors every year.
I also found that there are five books, eight songs and two movies named Pilgrimage, which I now want to find out more about to see how they portray the experience of being on one. But, no where was I reading that the experience was supposed to be fun. The Camino is now teaching me again that “there is no right or wrong way to experience growth in our life.” However, by having a more sobering/sombering experience, I came back to more joy and happiness that I can remember in a very long time so as far as I can tell, my Pilgrimage to the Camino de Santiago was perfect for me! And that my friends, feels really good.
Now the next part of this is to ask myself if I can continue to experience these lessons right here in Palm Springs, because the truth be told, I’m not really sure that I ever had to leave home to be on a Camino! What do you think of that??
Hmmmm?? Food for thought…………..xoxo