Sometimes the night feels like an eternity. The kind of night that settles into your soul. The kind of night that is heavy and the crushing weight bears down. Like a tightness in the chest that makes it hard to breathe. Like a darkness so deep not even stars offer up their shine. The silence of the night is deafening, unnerving, completely uneasy. The despair seeps into every bone, every muscle, every cell, from the inside out. The way feels vague, shrouded in mist. Nothing is clear and nothing seems to bring relief. In the dark of the night, everything seems lost.
I sat in this dark. She wrapped herself around me and called me home. Pressing, screaming “LOOK AT ME!” Nowhere else to go and nowhere to hide, this is how we met, the night and I. I was 22 and I wanted to die. When I couldn’t sleep because the world was nightmare enough, I would drive. Aimlessly venturing down new roads, sitting in my car. Empty and alone – wondering what it felt like to be inside the houses or surrounded by loved ones. Sometimes I ended up at the beach and the waves seemed to echo the darkness that crashed around me. Sometimes I would walk along the shore and think about what it would feel like to disappear. Sometimes anger would consume me and I would run, as far and as fast as I could but the strange thing was the anger never carried me very far. When I would finally make my way back to bed in the late hours, she would consume me still, relentlessly, this dark and desolate night. I call this the dark night of my soul and there was no escape.
In those dark days and nights I lost my appetite for life. Many days I could barely get out of bed. I was weary in a way that was all consuming and only those who visit the night can recognize this mark of dark in another. When we make someone else our everything, we have nothing left in the end. No foundation to anchor ourselves to. I didn’t know it then, but I had gambled away my love in an exchange of vows and the risk was my very existence. I didn’t know it then but the darkness was serving me, teaching me, showing me, testing me, asking me “where does your strength come from?” and all I could point to were things and people outside of myself. Not this time. This time the crushing weight of the black void forced me to find my own resilience. When everyone and everything else fell short, I had to be my own version of enough. I had to blindly find my way from the depths of this darkness, leaning on the small parts of my soul that remained intact to guide the way.
It was the earth that finally broke me open to the light within. Through her beauty, her sacred places, every sunrise and sunset and star filled night sky – she breathed life back into me when I could barely remember how to on my own. It was just me and her in the sacred alone and she caught me, she taught me and she teaches me still. Like how being strong takes time, like how sometimes the most beautiful things are the most subtle, like how all perfect things never receive their value from anything else. The earth brought me a reckoning and rediscovery of the seeds I had planted long, long ago – that I am resilient, I am deserving, I am whole, I am perfect and my value does not come from anything or anyone else. I didn’t know it then but she was giving me the most precious gift – she was reminding me of all the beauty and power and perfection of my spirit. She was showing me how to start again by building a foundation that would never give way. She was calling me back home and helping me to remember all that I truly am.
Then it was love who prevailed and despite the broken pieces, found a way to keep me soft. It was self-love who mended these pieces back together, stronger now than they ever were, holy and complete. She reminds me how pain can be the greatest teacher, she reminds me how in gratitude for the struggle I am set free. She reminds me that all of this is just temporary, it hinges on a breath and in a moment everything we know and hold to be real and true is gone. Self-love taught me the value of the night, that I may better understand and appreciate the light. Love is infinite, a river that connects us to the very core of who are. Some people journey down the river with us for just a time, disembarking at the next port while self-love remains the anchor forever. Most importantly, she showed me that when I directed this love, unwavering, unhinging, unfiltered, unencumbered, to myself, it was the beginning of everything. The rebirth after the long, dark night.
When the light of the sun finally reaches us after the night has closed in, what if we are being reminded of the light of our own brilliance? The soul more powerful than the strength of a thousand suns. Sometimes we need to prove to ourselves how strong we are, how much we can take. Sometimes we need to be reminded what we deserve and how incredibly beautiful it is to have this human experience, the full range of emotions between our first and last breath. Sometimes the struggle is the most necessary, the night the awakening, the dawn the zenith.
My Prayer for You
When the night has closed in on you, may you always be reminded of the light of your own brilliance and may you shine with the full force and strength of endless love.