There is a time in life that most people go through. It’s not about hitting bottom, it feels worse than that. Its more than a rough patch, it seems endless no matter what you do. Weeks and months go by and it doesn’t seem to get better. Every thing you touch turns to shit, people get tired of helping or holding your hand.
More and more you don’t want to be a drain on your loved ones so you withdraw, a little more every day. If you do go out, go to work or run errands, you are just going through the motions. There is no rhyme or reason for the way it is, and you run out of ideas or energy for making it better. It doesn’t seem to change, or end.
It is called The Dark Night of the Soul. If you are very lucky you may have a handful of loved ones who will stick by you.
Sometimes I think my whole life has been one long dark night. Then I remember some pretty good times, years of happiness and prosperity. That is what the Dark Night does to you, it makes you forget the happiness you have known. In reality I have had periods of great happiness, wonderful contentment, and many periods in my life that I call the Dark Night.
This current Night started around 2007 and is by far the longest night I have endured. It crept up on me quietly and misled me by disguising itself as progress.
The company I was working for had been bought out some years before and in 2007 they started making some serious changes. At first I was assigned some traveling, which I thought was fantastic. Then I was given some special projects and opportunities to advance myself and help to reshape the department. Fantastic. Hmm, lots of unpaid overtime. The more I did for them, the more work they gave me. In my personal life I was attending a lot of spiritual retreats and classes. I really thought this was all a new and exciting chapter in my life.
The stress started to get to me, though. I developed an anxiety disorder. Then I started having random pain in my body for no apparent reason. I hurt my back working out at the gym and it never got any better. I ended up on anti-anxiety and pain medications. In 2008 I hit menopause, adding an anti-depressant. In 2009 I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, had to take 6 weeks leave of absence, and more medicine.
I never really returned to work full-time. I had to take off several days every month for rest and pain management and often just because the fatigue was overwhelming.
Then the other shoe dropped as a result of all the time I had given the company to restructure our department, they decided to move the location of our office from Texas to Michigan. I was not making that move.
In September 2010 I was laid off. I was able to get a temp job in March but it only lasted a few weeks due to my need for days off to rest. I applied for early retirement through Social Security, beginning another long process that I am still muddling through. I was no longer able to leave the house for shopping or able to clean house and do my laundry. I only made it through those months because of 3 dear friends. One came to shop and clean and wash, one came to spend the night several times to keep me company and the other one took me out to breakfast once a week.
In December 2012 I lost my house and had to let my dog go to foster care. I moved in with my parents and applied for medical care through the county. Lots of pain pills. The oblivion was so alluring.
I was no longer involved in church, or anything really. The new doctor began rationing my pain pills and eventually took me off them. I still have pain but at least I am awake.
Things seems to even out after a while, but living with elderly parents and fighting depression and anxiety, emotional upheaval became the norm.
And all along I have been fighting the Darkness. Begging the universe to bring an end to it, looking for ways to find the Light again. Its exhausting. Fighting anything is exhausting.
In spite of my efforts to make things better, it only got worse! I was fighting with every one in my life. Finally this past summer I decided that enough was enough and that I was ready to check out. I wrote a note. I texted it to 2 friends and saved it in my phone. Then I got in the car and went to visit a friend in Arkansas. It’s only 6 hours away and 1 tank of gas. It was the beginning of October and I planned to live only until the 13th. Russ’s birthday would be my day to leave this plane.
Well, my friend became seriously ill right after I arrived. We made a pact: that as long as she would fight for her life, I would not try to end mine. I hate to say that her illness saved my life, but I felt needed and useful.
After returning home, I started thinking about this Dark Night and why it wasn’t ending. I was reading a lot of memes on Facebook about resistance and attraction and other metaphysical stuff. I had tried the constant gratefulness route before but nothing really got better so I had given up on that. I began to think along the lines of letting the Universe have its way.
One meme really resonated with me, “what you resist, persists”.
One morning it just hit me in the forehead. Why am I fighting this Darkness anyway? Is there something inherently wrong with being in the dark? Isn’t darkness part of universal balance? Could there be a real reason for being there? I made a decision right then.
No more resistance.
I accept the Darkness for what it is. I accept that this is where I am right now. I will embrace it. I will enjoy it. I will open up to whatever I can learn from it.
I will make it my friend, and maybe it won’t kill me.
Instead of viewing it as a black bottomless pit of despair, I am seeing this Dark Night as a friend who is walking along a path with me while I make decisions about what I am going to do with the rest of my life. I am recording my thoughts in my Book of Light, so that I will remember this struggle and so that I can teach my grand-daughter how best to handle her Dark Nights when they come, as they will, as it seems they must.
After all, it is only in the darkness that we can see the light of the stars.