The Hero’s Struggle: My Dark Night of the Soul

Loyal followers! Hello!

It’s been a looong month since my last post. There is so much to catch up on! I’m sure many of you have been wondering my status, especially those of you who have gotten a general idea of what’s been going on. Either way, I’ll give you a general recap.

First of all, and for not the last time I’m sure, I would like to thank each and every one of you for being with me on this journey. The love and encouragement, the advice and support, and all the visible and invisible ways in which you’ve held me whilst I’ve taken this journey- thank you. Without all of you, I don’t know I would’ve had the courage to stay on my feet when times got tough. I appreciate you all, you’ve done more than you know.

By now, some of you are probably wondering where all this is coming from, so I’ll dive into it. About a month ago exactly- days after my post last month (was it really only a month??)- Danielle and I broke up. Needless to say, I was devastated. Not only did I lose what was perhaps the most precious relationship in my life, but it was about as ugly and venomous as a break-up can be. On top of that, I found myself alone in a strange place with no more than 300 dollars to my name. I had no close friends or family nearby to turn to for support and Danielle was utterly inaccessible to me. If that wasn’t enough, Lucidity was still three weeks away.

I was in trouble. I found myself sinking into a profound sort of agony that I hardly knew possible. With few ways to distract myself, I found myself confronted with countless demons that I had so expertly suppressed for a long time. I mourned the loss of my relationship. I felt overwhelming regret at the hurtful words I had spoken and could never take back. I felt alone, vulnerable, confused, angry, and frightened. The loss of that relationship opened the floodgates to all the negative emotions I had iced over. I hadn’t expected my California adventures to be easy, but this was above and beyond what I had prepared myself for. Still, though, I was determined. I was not going to give in to despair. I resolutely refused to abandon the trip and return to Illinois, despite all temptation. I came to California to go to Lucidity, damn it! That’s what I was going to do!

It was about this time that I decided to do something new. Something radical. I decided to turn to my community for support. I reached out through Facebook to my friends and family about what I was going through. I knew, despite the pity party drama I was concocting, that I wasn’t al0ne. I knew I could count on my friends and family, so that’s exactly what I did.

The response was overwhelming! Friends, family, people I’ve hardly spoken to in years emerged to offer me unyielding compassion. People offered me money, places to stay, transportation, listening ears, words of encouragement, all manner of support. I knew, then, in my heart that even a thousand miles from home in a strange land, I was being held and supported in a web of love that transcends time and space. I felt you, all of you, cradling me and keeping me safe. I wept the tears reserved only for the type of relief one feels when returning home safely after a long, threatening battle. It was like I had shed 1,000 pounds from my shoulders. I could breathe!

Nourished by all the love that I received, I solidified my resolve. This pain, I decided, is my teacher. I am not backing down. These demons that I thought I had locked away deep within my psyche, they were to be confronted with strength and compassion. Gone are the days that I attempt to numb my pain, shy from my anger, or succumb to shame or guilt. I will stare my demons in the face, embrace them, and unite with them once again. These demons aren’t really demons, after all, just parts of myself that I had rejected long ago. Like a master illusionist, I had tricked even myself. I had denied the feelings I had deemed “bad” or “wrong” and, thus, rejected myself. I had found myself in countless codependent relationships in a desperate, yet futile, attempt to feel complete through another. But no more. Those days were over. I was going to embrace the raging inferno of my shame, guilt, regret, and pain. I decided to boldly march into the blazing fire of my agony so that I could be purified and born anew. And that’s exactly what I did.

The next few weeks were a roller coaster of emotion. Pain, grief, and anger were my constant companions. I would be okay for a time, then suddenly catapulted into a swirling, tumultuous storm of emotion as I grappled with the pain, shame, and guilt I had previously denied. Each wave of emotion was like a fresh battle with myself as I gathered my courage to stand strong and be witness to all the “wrong” things in my life. My emotions threatened to drown me but I was not afraid. I knew in my heart that I had the strength to whether even the greatest typhoon. I would emerge from each battle drained from the intensity of it all. Each time, though, I emerged with a deeper feeling of wholeness. It’s like I was shedding layers of deception that I had used to hide from myself. Every time I thought I was done is when the next wave of transformation would come. I had dared the Universe to challenge me, to show me who I really am, and It did not let me down.

I learned a lot about myself in that time: my strengths, my weaknesses, my dreams, my power. I remembered many things that I had thought were best left forgotten: betrayals, traumas, rejections, and embarrassments. I recognized many of the wounds that I thought I could eliminate. I recognized my scars not as something to be denied, but as reminders of all the ways I had learned and grown. More than anything, I forgave myself. I forgave myself for all the conscious and unconscious ways that I’ve hurt the people I love. I forgave myself for judgments made regarding myself or others, that only deepens the sense of isolation that divide us. For perhaps that first time in my life, I became my own best friend. I’m still getting to know this person named Dan, but I’m so grateful for the opportunity and I know that only good things can come of it.

I now realize how naive it would be to say that I’ve “got it”. Life is a learning process, and there is no escape from pain. In all likelihood I will continue to make mistakes: to speak out of anger, to judge myself or others, to indulge in doubt, uncertainty, shame, or guilt, to be- in a word- human. But that is the beauty of it. Each mistake is an opportunity. Each bout of pain is not a curse, but a blessing. It’s an opportunity to grow. It’s the signpost that points out just what illusions remain between me and the unconditional love which is my innermost nature- indeed all of ours. There’s an old Buddhist proverb, it says, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” For the first time, I’m beginning to understand what that means.

 

I had intended to update you all up to the current point in my journey, but I’m realizing now that I’m at my creative limit. Rather than pushing myself as I’ve often done in the past, I’d rather choose to honor myself and my limitations. There’s so much more to share but this will have to do for now. After all, without the cliffhanger y’all might not come back! 😉

Stay tuned, the next installment will arrive soon enough! I promise it won’t take me a month this time.

Much love to you all, and thanks for reading.

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