I am a firm believer in talking about what’s hard. I think it is a disservice to everyone if we ignore what makes us uncomfortable or ashamed. There are things I believe that are hard things to believe, and I think we should talk about that. There are also things that I hesitate to share, and I think that means I should share them even more. This is one of those things, but it is something that has deeply marked me, leaving beauty marks and scars, both equally important in the narrative of my life.
As someone who adores a good narrative, I know that the hard parts must be shared as well as the good parts. My favorite stories don’t shy away from the dark, but ultimately focus on the light. Because there is light that comes from any darkness we encounter. If there is one thing I know for sure in this life, it is that the light is only dimmed when darkness seems to encompass us, but there is always something good that comes out of our time in the shadows of life.
I guess you could say that for the past two years, I have been living in the shadows, and for the last half of 2018 up until about a month ago, I was in one of the darkest places I have ever walked through. I was lost in this darkness, stumbling through the best I could and repeatedly reaching painful dead ends, and I am now finally finding myself again. I have never understood what that meant more than I do now as I slowly undo what had left me disheartened and paralyzed for so long.
Like many things in life, I don’t think you realize what you had until it’s gone. This goes for the good, the bad, and the ugly. I had been shrouded in uncertainty and doubt for so long that I wasn’t even excited about creating or writing. I’ve come to realize that those two things which, if I’m being honest, go hand in hand, make up the very core of who I am. When you lose all urging to do the very things that make up who you are as a person, I think the fog starts to lift and reveal the harsh reality that you’ve lost yourself. Over the course of the past year I slowly began to give excuses for my lack of motivation to embark on even the simplest of tasks. It all started with some bad days that slowly morphed into bad weeks, then bad months, then, ultimately what I would describe as a bad year.
When you are living in this place of darkness, you start to expect only bad things to come around every turn. Road blocks start to become the norm and dismay a space to live in, not just a stop on the journey. Pretty soon not feeling is the only way to keep on keeping on, but I couldn’t even do that. Instead my anxiety skyrocketed and panic attacks became something I expected, crippling me to the point where all I could do was lay on my bed waiting for my cheeks to dry as I slowly drew in raggedy breaths and counted to ten over and over again.
Worry about things that are so upsetting they trigger these types of reactions consume everything, so it is no wonder, then, that other, more important, more fruitful, more satisfying, tenets of your life get put on a shelf far out of sight and mind, left to gather dust while more pressing matters are literally pressing in and making it hard to breath under the pressure. But despite all this, there is still also a dim flickering light. A light that only grows brighter in hindsight knowing that I made it – and am still making it – out of the shadows.
As I move into a new, brighter chapter of my narrative, I am struck by my desire now to create — to try new things, to interact, and to start fresh. Human beings are resilient in that they are able to continuously pick themselves up and dust themselves off. I have seen it time and time again, and I have now experienced it myself. I know that creativity is what makes life worth living, and although I’ve been rejected and gone through shadowy spurts where writing was the last thing on my mind, I still know this to be true.
So use this as a bit of encouragement. Although there is darkness, there is always light. There is always purpose. There is always that knowing — an intrinsic part of the human soul — that you will find yourself again, in a new place, but better than ever.
“But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:10