In The Dark: The Worst Place I Don’t Want To Leave
A creative personal account of the darker aspects of the inner child healing journey.
I’ve been on the verge of something “beautiful” for so long that “just around the corner” turned into a maze. If this is some kind of gestation then this chrysalis has been my traumatic Eden.
I thought I was doing alright. I patched up the wounds I could see, bit back bloody words, and put my best heart forward. Didn’t think it wouldn’t be enough. Never imagined how much the world would take, would make me face, for the life I keep asking for. And I know the more I know, the less I can be sure, because that’s how it goes, doesn’t it? And all there is is a big breath and a shaky chest, and to keep your head down and be happy to hope for the worst because you dare not hope for the best.
But I keep going. Smile so I’m convinced it won’t be long now. It’s not the way, so just deal with the wait. Every pain must end, even when you’ve forgotten that life can be in any other state.
I think I’m obsessed with fresh starts. I’ll paint them idealized before I’ve even bought brushes. If they’re not just right the whole thing’s doomed anyway. So now I’m telling myself the best beginnings aren’t pretty, but what do I know? Maybe they’re supposed to be and I just haven’t figured out how to do it.
Here’s how it went: a piecemeal, subconscious awakening to the toxic grit of who I am; the poison shrapnel stuck in the pulsing gossamer plasma body of what I imagine the soul to be. Out of sight, out of mind, though, because every time I faced it was startling. Where did it come from? How did it get there? When did it get there? Was it always? Still, each time I picked out what I could with quick and unwilling fingers, anxious to get back to the numb, heady, cloud of the daily.
And when I got out all the pieces I could find, I was left with a holey mess that I thought would mend with time. I got it in my head that I could help things along if I worked insanely hard to make right what went wrong. I’d gather up my life and go back to what I left behind, and that time around I wouldn’t be so blind. I thought I knew the secret then: just pull it out when you see it. But there’s a life’s work in weeding, and some roots aren’t yours to dig out.
So naïve to believe that was healing, but it felt profound in the sense of a baby-step into the ocean for the first time. So callow, that Fool on the ledge, pumped and revelling in the certain unknown, too confident to entertain the thought of not conquering. Yeah, let’s grow, it’s gonna be great! If I fall I’ll get up ’cause I know it’s my fate.
But you know what it’s really like. It comes in waves but it starts small; tricks you into thinking you can handle it all. You change a habit here, stop a reaction there, shift a pattern of belief as it hits you while you’re minding your own business, drinking tea, and before you know it you feel like you might actually be evolving. It gets you high on thinking “I can grow when things are good, see?”
Belief kicks in saying you’ve ascended, you’ve transcended, and oh my goodness, could you even be any more enlightened and unoffended? And the truth is: the glasses I wear to face the light of who I thought I was becoming have never been rosier. I had it good and I knew it, or I thought I did because it’s not long until something comes along to knock off the filter you didn’t even know you had on.
But, if I really understood what I had at the time maybe I’d have savoured the state of my mind. Or maybe I wasn’t meant to comprehend the truth of the phase I was in, ’cause if I know something good is going to end, my mind can get stuck in fight, worry, defend. So, really, I should be grateful for the ignorance that gave me bliss, but I can’t help looking back with guilt for all that I missed.
Certain things are meant to collapse and, honestly, I was ready for one door to close. But I didn’t expect that to open the next I’d have to unlock a childhood of ghosts. When one chapter of my life began to unravel, I was okay: I expected it; not much left with to grapple. But the truth of going backwards made my chest hurt and my stomach ache. I just wanted a break. I didn’t want to be there. So familiar with the cushy previous state of being I thought was leading to my best future, that I believed I could leave my past behind the easy way.
I’ve heard that life doesn’t give you more than you can handle, but I don’t know the limits of my capacity; I must be missing my manual. If I’m honest: there are days when the thought of having no days ahead . . . seems like a pretty bright future, and it’s tempting to hit end. For the sake of my loved ones I put up a fight, but I can’t help but fantasize about switching off the light.
That’s not how this works, though. I’m unable to stand the thought of another possible lifetime like this, so what else is there to do but everything to avoid calling it quits? Still, I asked for some rest; just a little time to heal. Didn’t know I’d get flung to the bottom of the wheel. My dear, it’s merely a reprieve. Face it before you leave. You can’t go too long without the reminder that nothing lasts forever. You have to learn to Temper.
I had my mind on a diet I carefully cultivated over time. But you can’t be picky if you can’t afford the resources to be fine. It shouldn’t be a surprise that resolve weakens when your surroundings taunt and there’s so much to feed the thoughts you don’t want.
I guess I forgot.
Suddenly I’m ten and I hate my life again, believing what I’m going through is okay; that I’m more of a victim than I even know and it can’t be helped that everything is that way. That I just have to wait for the miracle that never comes; that things will only change if it’s destined from above. That no matter what is said, or how reasonable the terms, boundaries are crossed and you will be unheard. Intuition gives way while doubts set in, and change from within is a laughable dream to begin.
It took so many years away for me to unlearn and learn again, but all that wisdom was fighting against things with which it couldn’t contend.
It’s not me, it’s you ’cause I’m pretty sure I’m doing my work, and wasn’t I enlightened just a moment before? Then, why am I engulfed in the panic that I thought I successfully wrestled out my inner child’s door? All at once, the old chaos is there like a beat that wasn’t missed, and the bed is the only place I can bear to exist. Oh, no, I don’t sleep, though how I wish I could. Just hyperventilate and hide from all the things that aren’t good. Genuinely thought I’d been doing everything that I should. Silent-tear stained pillows are the only company for this brand of misunderstood.
Nights like this blur into days, weeks, months, and the will to even try to change things walks to the edge and jumps. Then the moment arrives when I realise that the chains of old conditioning have succeeded in taking over my mind. Any traces of shadow work, evolution and healing are impossible to find. It’s not imposter syndrome, low self-worth, anxiety or depression, though those old friends have also come to play. It’s that I don’t even want life to get better, anyway. I’m so used to the low-vibe, that there’s belief that it’s meant for me. Barely took any time for me to get comfortable in this familiar toxic reverie.
What would I actually do if I somehow had success? Could I even handle not turning it into a mess? But there’s something more terrifying that nags at my soul: that things being good is a short precursor to a crumbling Tower fall. I can’t trust being happy; it’s all a big tease. My life is stingy with nice, no matter how much I plead. Wanting things to improve doesn’t feel very wise, so why not rather hunker down in the state of my demise?
The year of the Devil, when the ghosts turn into ghouls, just feels like the Universe is being extra cruel. The spiritual path is the toughest I’ve ever walked. There isn’t any telling how many demons need to be fought. I know each fight I win makes me stronger, but how strong do I need to be? Some days the only thing keeping me alive is blind faith that one day I’ll be free.
Obviously, this was meant to be the idealized start to a beautiful new chapter, but what’s “ideal” is in question, and authenticity feels better. I fell into this black abyss; this place that I’m too scared to leave. But, I can feel that I’m meant for light much bigger than this. So I’ll be patient in the dark for the turning of the wheel.
Originally published at https://expandingsapience.com on October 21, 2020.