Originally published April 4, 2018
“It is not easy to stay conscious during a painful and frightening process. We would rather turn away, drug ourselves, or feign indifference. It requires a delicate blend of curiosity, fortitude, and patience to trust in the wisdom and the purpose of pain.” ~ Elizabeth Lesser
I would like to try to explain the place I have been over the last several months.
I sometimes refer to it as the dark.
The Dark is the place I find myself falling into time and time again, no matter how well it seems I am moving through life. Appearances are deceiving when it comes to my particular type of self-loathing. I’m a superb actress. I can nod and smile, say all the right things and go through all the appropriate motions when inside I feel absolutely nothing.
I can never predict when the dark will take over.
Sometimes it is an obvious buildup of emotional exhaustion, fear, anxiety and illness. Sometimes it stems from lack of sleep and a general feeling of not being seen or heard or appreciated. Sometimes it is isolation or loneliness. Usually though, it takes me with no warning and no obvious explanation. It hits and consumes me, completely and devastatingly and I’m no good for anyone, especially myself.
Saying the dark is scary is inaccurate and doesn’t give it the justice it deserves. I can’t feel terror when I’m there because I don’t feel anything. I’m sure there are myriad clinical terms for the dark. Medically accurate, professionally studied and justifiably applied terms. Labels like disassociation, bi-polar, mood dysregulation, PTSD, depression. The list created to pacify the mass population by “naming” the dark could fill volumes, but calling it something doesn’t make it better and telling me what it may be does nothing to help lift the veil. To bring me back when I’m there.
Success does nothing to break down the wall.
If anything it makes it worse. “Who are you to think you deserve anything good?” my shadow self asks. My only companion in the dark. The other me that knows who I really am. A used up kid, already worn out and damaged before I was 10 years old. Worthless.
Past experiences in the void have taught me that the only way out is to self-destruct in some way. To negate any positive growth I have managed to precariously scrape together. To destroy any positive I have managed to create in the worst way possible. To feel hatred for myself is to feel something and that is when the first pinprick of light finds me.
I know how dysfunctional this sounds and yet I also know from years of intimate time spent in this place that the worst must be honored before I can come to the surface long enough to hope to feel the best again.
I don’t like this part of myself.
This person lost and willing to do anything, no matter how painful, to bring me back so that I can smile and laugh and make others feel better. To love and not feel a black void. To have faith that I’m worth not being in this place. I don’t want to stay stuck in the dark for so long that I embrace it as permanent, never able to care again about being productive and available and present. Not able to make a difference. I hope that expressing it honestly helps me to come back in a semi positive way and that anyone reading this who can relate knows they are not alone.