Dark Night of the Soul

I am writing today with the acknowledgement that I feel stuck but with the belief that this will be my way out.  I am writing today to get past the writer’s block, through my self-confidence struggles, and beyond the belief that I have nothing to offer the world in my current state of brokenness.  

For the last month I have felt withdrawn, sullen, unable to feel the light I once did.  The depression, the anxiety, the dreams and the cold sweats that wake me from my fractured sleep provide surety that no matter how many hours I lie in bed, they would never be enough to rejuvenate my weary being.  I feel lost and defeated and hopeless.

A dear friend recently described this experience as “A Dark Night of the Soul.”  And that concept resonates deeply within me.  It’s like my path has guided me towards a pitch-black forest on a moonless night.  In my blindness, I am trying to sense my way through the trees, stumbling over above-ground roots and falling to my knees.  I get up over and over only to bump into tree after tree after tree, all the while trying to cling to the hope that I will one day find my way out, reassuring myself that even the longest nights only last so long… and I am trying to believe myself.    

This staggering through the darkness feels like frustration.  It feels like trying, without success.  It feels like outrageous levels of insecurity, like I will never be good enough.  It feels like doing a terrible job at all things.  Like everything I write is absolute disjointed crap, my concentration broken at every bend.  It feels like I have nothing of substance to give to the world, no light to offer, in this unfortunate and diminished state of being.  It feels like my circumstances have crushed me just enough to give up on one of the only things I have ever myself created, Oliver’s Odyssey.  Like I am living out the words of those who’ve told me that I will fail in my life.  

It feels like, maybe, I just have nothing left to give.

______

Last week my parents came to help us and during their stay my mom participated in an online church service.  Outwardly I revolted, perpetuating my judgmental and dualistic rebellion against religion, so I pretended to be wholly disinterested in what the “church” people were saying.  Inwardly, I listened to the story of a woman being asked to give during a time in her life when she felt she had nothing to spare.  The conclusion of the tale was her realization that when she started to give of herself, she realized she had plenty to share.  She began to extend her energy, her time and her money and, despite her generosity, found that she was never left with too little.

_______

A day later, an online friend posted this to her wall,

“Your calling is what’s placed in front of you TODAY, not tomorrow when the health is great, when there’s more in your account, when you’re in a bigger house, cool neighborhood, not tomorrow when everything is going the way you want it to (Start with this- You are the best person for your job TODAY)  Be a good steward of that, get working.”

Someone commented below, “What a revelation.  The excuses of I’m not yet good enough… don’t count.”

_______

I don’t claim to know what I’m doing or where I’m going in this life.  Largely, I have found this human experience to be wildly unpredictable and ever-changing.  But I tend to believe that even when we feel hopelessly lost, there will always be guides, signposts, and helpers, to light our way.  The only thing that prevents us from receiving these pearls of wisdom, gleaning the direction they have to offer, is our inability or unwillingness to accept them.

So tonight, sitting here at my laptop, stumbling my way through my words… this is me accepting the guidance being given.  Getting out of my own way, getting out of my own head, and following the guidance of the way-showers.  

It’s not about perfection.  It’s not about molding and training and retraining and grooming ourselves until we are our most perfectly polished versions to be presented to the world.

It’s about showing up in our mess, our disheveled appearance allowing the world to see our humanness.  It’s about vulnerability, radical honesty and our willingness to stand before each other in puddles of our tears, stripped of our masks and defenses, yet refusing to hide any longer.  

We are not here on this earth to make no mistakes.  We are not here to operate with robotic precision and without blunder.  We are here to think and feel and suffer and play and love and lose. To learn and realize and grow through our times of grief and confusion and struggle.  

So even if you feel weak today, lost, depressed, angry, sad… whatever version of you is alive NOW, show up in YOU. Far be it from us to know in which form our energy is needed by the world each day.  Every emotion, every experience, every sensation of this life is valid.  It is only our judgements and self-defeating beliefs that make them not so.  

4 thoughts on “Dark Night of the Soul

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  1. Dear Susan, the Apostle Paul said: “In Him I live and move and exist.” This is so true, because after I give Him all of my anxieties and cares, I am left with JOY. A white friend of mine from the South once told me that if she had been born black, she would have committed suicide. The experience of living my entire life as the most despised race in the world, no matter what I achieve, gives pause to reflect on God’s goodness to allow me to know Him, the Creator of the universe, as my joy and hope – my very own Father! He has taught me that His Holy Spirit living within me defines who I am, NOT outside circumstances or situations. I love your willingness to share your burdens with flesh and blood. Perhaps you can give them to the one who calls out: “Come to me, all whose work is hard, whose load is heavy and I will give you relief. Bend your necks to my yoke, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble-hearted; and your souls will find relief, for my yoke is good to bear, and my load is light.” Much love and prayers❣️

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    1. Gloria ❤ Thank you for this. I love that last quote. It is so true that we find liberation in our surrender, freedom to fly unburdened. It makes me literally sick to my stomach reading your words about being the most despised race in the world. How lost is the flock to base worth on such superficiality as skin color? I feel so much sorrow and frustration over the race issues in our world and have trouble understanding why people can't see that we are all the same inside. I am glad, for you, that you have found worth and validation through faith, even as the earthly fools remain lost. I love you. I respect you. I stand with you.

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