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  • Writer's pictureAnnelisa MacBean

Hope and Hopelessness

When things are falling apart, it can be so hard to maintain a sense of hope. When I have tried so hard to keep it all together, to convince others that I am good, worthy and loveable, to ensure that I will not be abandoned or discarded, when I undermine all these efforts and the fear of isolation or separation is activated, I find myself feeling claustrophobic and uncertain, collapsing under a cascade of thoughts and feelings of hopelessness. In these moments I need the earth. I literally need to lie down on the ground, to feel my body held and supported, to smell the soil and experience the warmth of the sun, a counterpoint to the internal sense of spinning and grasping attempts to resolve the activation by more thinking. Just breathing quietly, laying on the ground, surrendering to the moment . . . there is nothing I can do now . . . I retreat inside and tender the raw sensations generated by anxiety and fear. Feeling the earth, the hardness of the ground under me, I can rest. After a few minutes, I am relieved of the overwhelming resistance to the dissolution of the false identity. It’s over now . . . the pretense, the deception, the con . . . entirely hopeless. What and who I truly am is all that is left. Once I have soothed my achy nervous system, I can begin to perceive what is needed now, and I can consider new ways to care for myself and interact with others. Slowly, with empathic attunement, I can use my mind to bring illumination, perspective, new understanding and even visions of new, more honest and integrated ways of being.

There is mercy in this surrender to hopelessness. Allowing hope to fall away relieves the internal pressure to hold on to even that one last thing. In the quiet finality of hopelessness, the possibility of seeing or experiencing love and hope miraculously re-emerges. Thankfully, while I am often hopelessly incapable of consciously integrating love and hope into my everyday life and identity, love and hope are always underlying everything . . . and when I am finally hopelessly helpless, I realize love and hope are integrating me.

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