Everything is born out of darkness. The planets, in their infinite intrigue, the sun in all its brilliant splendor, the moon graciously illuminated by the sun, the tiniest plants that emerge through a million granules of dirt. And, us. Humans, created inside another human, curled up, eyes shut tight, surrounded by- darkness. Upon birth, we are welcomed by light. The same light that continues to nourish us until we close our eyes and once more welcome darkness before we transition onward.
I’ve come to believe that if we didn’t experience darkness, fall into it, feel it seep into our core, we wouldn’t transform or progress. We would never see our faults…to ourselves, to others. We’d be condemned to a life of complacency and self-righteousness.
On the flip side, remaining in the darkness for too long can be unhealthy, and downright dangerous. Let me share with you some very personal stories of my darkness. The darkness I became trapped in, and the darkness that helped me break through to blinding white light. These are two poignant times of my life where I can think back to and remember the lessons learned.
The blackest darkness came during a period of time I was dealing with my family with another unconventional relationship with an older man. Back then, I was no where near who I am today, so I didn’t know how to communicate in an effective manner, to take responsibility or to get help. Honestly, I didn’t know who I was or what I was doing. During that period, I became stuck. After lying to my parents about being at college during a spring break when I really wasn’t, my parents were enraged and upset. So was I. They told me that they didn’t want me to come home for the summer, which was only two months from that spring break. Initially, I thought, okay they’re really mad, but they’ll come around and we’ll have a good, long, hard, rational talk. Well, we did have that. They did say that I could come home (with all kinds of stipulations…that I was willing to accept since I was so desperate to come home). I was thrilled. A little upset over said stipulations, but I didn’t care. I wanted to go home. I wanted to be with my parents. It was true turmoil leading up to this point in trying to apologize and negotiate. So, after I began feeling better, my parents and I had another talk, and when we did…they shifted their viewpoint and changed their mind: they no longer wanted me to come home. They were adamant about not letting me. I had no where else that I wanted to go. Places to go- probably. Places I really wanted to go- none, not even to my ex’s. Devastation and pure rage hit. I had one of the biggest breakdowns ever in that apartment on the fourth floor. Screaming, crying, hyperventilating, throwing books…etc. This went on for quite some time, all the while my roommate and her boyfriend at the time were over. Embarrassed, I explained what happened and why I was a wreck. There wasn’t much they could do. Days passed, and I calmed down, but the inner torture and turmoil did not. The situation was so extreme and difficult that my older, distant boyfriend at the time was helpless. At this point in my life I was barely open about my liking older guys. There probably was only a short list of three friends that knew. Of course, I was terrified of judgement back then. Point is- I had trouble reaching out to them. The friends I did couldn’t help me. Depression spiraled, and like any desperate, depressed soul, I contemplated suicide. I wrote a letter (not a letter that I was going to do it), but a letter that I was considering it, because the situation got so bad, to my parents. They were going to be the first to know. My senses came about and I realized after writing out the letter, that I couldn’t possibly go through with it, even though I felt strongly left alone. I tucked the letter away and didn’t talk about it. Soon after I chose to see a counselor, (which didn’t help in the slightest). So, on I remained in my utter darkness. Alone. Afraid. So afraid. Desperate. Sad. Lost. Completely lost.
Long story short- I remained in this until one day, my parents finally changed their mind again and said that I could come home. I did, and that summer was certainly a difficult one for numerous reasons. That darkness was not the good kind. I would like to say I’ve never experienced a darkness like that after, but sadly there were other episodes.
Now! Here’s a story about how I was able to identify my darkness and get out of it. About a year ago, as I was sitting with Dave at the kitchen table, I was in a facebook messaging argument with my mom. When I was finished, I was so flustered I bawled. Dave immediately was concerned and thought of a solution. That solution: the Landmark Forum. After attending a personal intro, (begrudgingly I might add), I attended what were the most intense three days of my life. Within a windowless room with a peppy woman as a leader, myself and about 100 other dubious souls sat, listened, participated and ultimately transformed. Not everyone did, and in the beginning I didn’t think that I would either. I could go into immense detail about the weekend, but I’ll save that for another post! This long story short was that, during that time I realized that a lot of the darkness that I was encountering was within me! All of it. Every drop. I literally “didn’t know what I didn’t know.” Then, I discovered what was hidden, and felt that I had to take action. That action was calling up my mom on a warm, sunny Saturday afternoon in May, on a park bench in the middle of Philly. It was tough. I recall sitting there, heart ready to bust through and fly across the park, nervously fidgeting, telling Dave that I couldn’t do it over and over and over, until- beep. Riiiing, riiiing. “Hello?”
A lump the size of Texas arose in my throat and I found myself unable to properly speak. “I can’t understand you!” My mother said as I started crying. Finally, the words came gushing out. I explained to her where I was, what I was doing and how it was helping me. Then I went on to apologize for the past. For all those times I lied and hurt her and my dad. In those brief moments, moments that I would carry for a lifetime, I became fully responsible for the old me. The old me who fought and lied and hurt her parents. I let it all out. There was silence for a time after. My mom didn’t know what to say. She eventually admitted that she was really hurt. But then went on to say that things couldn’t be different from the way they were. I didn’t get angry, but tried to tell her that yes, things could be completely different. Our relationship could be mended. I guess she couldn’t see what she couldn’t see. Time was up; I had to get going to make it back in time. After informing my mom of this, I told her I would most likely call again. I think she had tears at this point and said okay.
I said, “I love you.”
“I love you.”
My mom hung up without those three words in return.
I lost it again. Hurriedly collecting my things through tears, we went back. I shared my story to the now less dubious 100 some strangers. It was liberating.
Ever since then, I have been a completely different person. The Landmark seminar I’m currently in is continually helping me see my darkness, to be in it, and to help me know and see that there is a way out. But I can’t know that way out unless I’m in the “sewage”. I get that! If you aren’t willing to see where you are stuck and struggling, either because you don’t want to, or because you’ve just adapted to the sewage, darkness, what have you, then you won’t be able to be open to or have a miracle.
Now, every dark spot I am willing to recognize. I know that I’m in it. I recognize and acknowledge what’s going on and right where I’m at. I know that I can get out. Some hard conversations might ensue…conversations with my parents about their harsh attitude about Dave. But those are the ones I need to have in order to show them the darkness, so that maybe we can get out of it together.
I’m not saying that Landmark is the solution for everyone. But I know that everyone can get out of their darkness and become the brightest beacon of light in their own way. Take the time to recognize where it comes from, how you got there, what you’re feeling/how it’s making you feel. Then analyze the possibilities of the situation- the possibilities where you could break out. Really look at all of them. Don’t just settle for the first one that comes to mind. Surprise yourself. If that means having a difficult conversation with someone, do it. Let go of fear. If that means seeing a counselor or doctor, do it. If that means looking into different self-help programs, books, or workshops, do it! In order to make the change you wish to see and live you have to take the first step. And I know that the first step is the hardest! Once you make it though, you can continue walking forward, positively into the direction of your dreams and desires.
It all starts with you and what’s deep inside!