Dark Night of the Soul 2.0

I did that thing where I exposed my heart and then ended up surprised to see it thoroughly trampled. Silly me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not maudlin or melodramatically, romantically distraught. My heart’s just broken. It hurts and it’s exhausting.

And I’m not a kid. I’ve had plenty of heartbreak. Ain’t none of it ever measured up to this.

You see–over my six-month hiatus, I had a bit of a life-changing adventure. The beginning of the year saw me defeated by a number of things in my personal life and left me questioning all those things which I imagined as “essential” to my identity.

  • A good mother
  • A strong leader
  • An ethical person
  • A spiritual person
  • An effective teacher

Things happened with my kids, my job, my marriage, my tribe, my family of origin, my physical household–all of which left me ready to fling up my hands. Not bad things (mostly–one was pretty damned bad), just irksome thing that didn’t win out on the side of benefit when considering cost. Then Midsummer rolled around and I had something to hang on to. Something easy that was all benefit. Something sparked in me and I had the tenacity to move through the rest of the year. Something saved my effing life–and I didn’t even realize it needed saving. If you read my post from August, you know I had taken a turn for the outright hopeful.

I felt as if everything was divinely ordained. That, for whatever reason, the divine was placing me in a particular position to do something good. Or at least meaningful. Even if only on the personal level. And I needed something good and meaningful on the personal level–so this was a real boon for my ailing spirit. I really listened to spiritual guidance and chose my steps with great care and deliberation. They weren’t all easy, trust me. This road was paved with shards of glass. But it seemed an absolutely worthwhile road–and I was alive. 

Yeah. Well. All things end. This one just ended abruptly and in a way that leaves me asking why the gods put me in such a position in the first place.

I’m pretty sure I misstepped and had the cosmic rug pulled out from under me because I was “disobedient.” We don’t really think in terms of “sin” and “damnation” but there is a sense of “obedient” and “punitive.” Plus, the one sort-of (it’s too complicated and personal to write about) triggered the other. It’s hard not to see a connection instead of a mere corollary.

Nearly Winter Solstice and the decline comes with the seasons. Ah, I love a good pathetic fallacy.

When I saw the end approaching, I have to admit, it was damned hard not to whip up the witchyness. It has taken a good deal of willpower to keep myself from tossing magic on top of desire and the fear of loss. There’s a part of me that knew from experience that all I had to do was *that one thing* and I could turn the tide for myself. But, there’s the other part of me that knew from experience that the unintended consequences, “Monkey Paw Style,” of magical intervention can be devastating.

Yesterday was my birthday and in 36 hours I managed to accumulate more loss than in the past year combined. Today I’m struggling against anguish that crushes in waves, leaving me gasping for air as I get pulled under again.

The thing about mourning is that it comes and goes. I know this. Eventually it comes less often and stays gone longer. But when too many losses happen at once, the mourning tends to get confused. The feelings of loss for one thing (that might have been manageable on its own) gets conflated with and compounded by other losses.

Some might say I’m embarking on The Dark Night of the Soul, after which I will find peace and enlightenment. Part 220px-JohnCrossof me says, “I hope so.” The rest of me says, “Bah.” I never much bought into Eckhart Tolle anyhow.

But considering this term, “dark night of the soul,” goes back to–at least–Saint John of the Cross, I can consider it in Tolle’s terms without too much chagrin.

It is a term used to describe what one could call a collapse of a perceived meaning in life…an eruption into your life of a deep sense of meaninglessness. … Nothing makes sense anymore, there’s no purpose to anything.  Sometimes it’s triggered by some external event, some disaster perhaps, on an external level.  The death of someone close to you could trigger it, especially premature death, for example if your child dies.  Or you had built up your life, and given it meaning – and the meaning that you had given your life, your activities, your achievements, where you are going, what is considered important, and the meaning that you had given your life for some reason collapses.

It’s a great way to approach the holiday season–I promise that’s irony.

Rather than flinging my pain outward with magic or banal actions that potentially cause more damage, I’m spending some quality time in my head with some awesome poets.

I think Kahlil Gibran captured the experience of The Dark Night of the Soul best in his poem, “Defeat,” from The Madman:

defeat

I’ve not come to terms yet with the final line–do I really want to be dangerous? Part of me cringes, the other part says, “Hell yeah.” Someone recently said to me that there was no one more dangerous than the person with nothing left to loose. I argued that a witch with nothing left to lose was more dangerous than anything.

I suppose the trick is to hang on to at least one last shred of something that’s worth losing. It’s a risky business: caring. It’s a sight riskier to stop caring, throw caution to the wind, and cast blindly into the aether for a balm or compensation for loss. Better to just vomit and move on. It’s working for me today.

If you’re in a dark spot, hang on. Morning comes. And I’ll be on the other side of night looking for you.

 

And because it’s therapeutic, I’ll be writing about “regret” and “remorse” over the weekend using T.V. Tropes and Idioms at The Big Bad Words Blog.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Dark Night of the Soul 2.0

  1. I am reminded of under-wave scenes from Surf’s Up, Lilo and Stitch, and Castaway. I hated, absolutely hated, being shoved underwater by my peers in grade school. I never imagined I’d ever be similarly pranked or tested by God. Never to trivialize what it is you’ve shared, but you reminded me of one of the coolest feelings of breath-grasping suspense and powerlessness I can remember from my monthly classroom of Beach Love 101 taught me during the summer school of Puerto Rican beach trips (much cooler a letting go sensation for me when my tween-sized body was easier to toss around, submerge, and hold under): My favourite line of yours is ‘Today I’m struggling against anguish that crushes in waves, leaving me gasping for air as I get pulled under again.’ Thank you so much for tossing off a bottled scroll like this one as you continue your path. I appreciate your quoting Kahlil Gibran. From one of your newest admirers.

What are you thoughts?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s