Hold On: Surviving The Dark Night of the Soul

photo (20)I’m in the desert. Well, it’s sort of the desert. It’s really a mish-mash, a smorgasbord, a cacophony of reds and blues and purples and muted greens and earthy browns and soft yellows and hints of white… It’s lyrical. Mountains meet desert, rocks meet sky, layers of earth pile atop of one another, a delectable sight. The air is savory; the days bright. I can see the energy dance off the crisp lines of the horizon. My soul hums joyfully every moment. My heart is on fire.

She comes to me here. She comes draped in pain, dangling heavy around her neck, clinging both in and outside, angles sharp, heart heavy, oozing horror like lava. My arms haunt around her, wanting to hold her strong, remove her hurt, remove her scars festering with treachery and fright. She cannot believe the magnitude of the shame. I can feel it on her instantly. Her once bright cheer vanished, extinguished like a light. Her optimism, confidence eliminated, now, in her words: “I’m just a shell of myself.”

She comes to me because I am the poster child for single motherhood. I survived. I have a healthy, thriving boy, a new marriage with growing pains but still trucking along and a new family, somehow growing tighter everyday. But my success seems worlds away.

I beg of her. Please hold on. Hold on. Hold on. I know you cannot fathom this but there is wonder ahead. I know you don’t want to hear it now, but you can trust that the universe is ultimately kind and that everything is going to be ok. You are courage incarnate. This pain you bear, you are not alone. It will get better. You may not believe me now. You may not want to hear my words. You are not alone.

Your baby loves you. Your family does too. Your ex is confused; he’s in pain too. I don’t know all of the details, but I don’t have to. I’ve lived this song. Listen, he wants to be more of a man, he just doesn’t know how. Maybe his actions are not valiant. Try not to judge him. We all want to be the hero, not the villain. Often, we are convinced the problem lies not with us. We just don’t want to see it, the darkness within. We all want to shine. At least at some point, that is what we want the most. Sometimes our failures astound us, blind us, sideline us and make us full of disgust. But try not to focus on that. Instead, see the beauty in this. I know that will piss you off right now. But try anyway. Look for the gift. For you are midway into the dark night of the soul… Be still now. Rest up. You’ll need your stamina.

You are going to survive. One breath at a time. You may not be able to stand your reflection right now, trust me. I get it. I was there. I was so sad and so lonely and so broken and convinced it would never change. But everyday I got up and I tried. Some days were easier than others. I never stopped trying. Don’t stop. You can do this. I know it. Hold on tight.

Above all else, you’ve got to learn to be nice to you. Right now, you are pain seeking pain. Right now, you are resorting to blame. That doesn’t serve you. You have a hand in this. You are a part of this. You have got to start loving you, prioritizing your needs, listening to the secret desires of your soul, believing that what you want does in fact matter, that you can in fact make miracles happen if you only try and above all else —stop loathing yourself. Please, stop. All that self loathing is chipping away at your soul. I’ve been there. See my scars? Self inflicted each and every one. Just don’t do it.

You are beautiful. You are connected. You stare into my eyes, yet you are worlds away. You want to hear me, yet you are standing in your own way.

This will get better. It will.

I love you. Please love you too. And hold on. Hold on tight. For this is the dark night of the soul. Caroline Myss says we go there so we can learn the truth of life when we survive. You’ve got this. But it will not be easy, nor for the faint of heart. On the other side of this abyss of agony lies ecstasy of the greatest kind — inner peace. You will know beyond a shadow of a doubt what you are made of — the good shit, the straight dope. You will know what is your cryptonite; you will know your battle cry. You will be grounded, aware, strong and infinitely resilient. But this will be no easy plight.

Hold on. Hold on tight.