Getting Through The Dark Night of The Soul
“Transformation isn’t sweet and bright. It’s a dark and murky, painful pushing. An unraveling of the truths you’ve carried in your body. A practice in facing your own created demons. A complete uprooting before becoming” ~ Victoria Erickson
In late 2013 after hearing the first whispers of surrender, and after a 5 month sabbatical in Portugal, I returned home to Houston to pick up the pieces of my life and find out what was next for me.
Things were tricky upon my return to Houston. I couldn’t quite get excited about my organizing business, but I didn’t really feel motivated to do something else…so I continued to help people unclutter their lives and at the same I kept uncluttering my own at all levels, too.
By this time, I had learned to ease my grasp on the reigns of my life; I’d felt the omnipresence of Spirit in my life in a way I never had before. AND, I started to question everything about myself and my life.
Why was I here? What I was to do? Who was I to be?
I would ask these questions over and over again and no answers would come. I learned to keep asking them, even when the answers eluded me.
But, as I started to ask these questions, whatever desire I had to keep going forward started to extinguish, little by little.
I was in the midst of trying to reinvent myself and nothing obvious was pointing me in any direction. I started to sense some sort of wave coming. As if I was on the verge of a cliff that I was about to jump off of. But I couldn’t quite figure out where to start or where to jump. I kept telling my circle of friends, “I see the wave coming. I feel stuck, I feel out of alignment, I don’t know what to do next.” I kept feeling lost and completely unable to ground myself. If I had indeed felt surrender to Spirit before, how could I get that back? How could I live like that from now on?
Asking for Help
Feeling lost and somewhat desperate, on Valentines Day 2014 I wrote a letter to my Universal Guides asking for help. I had done this on so many other occasions but this one was different. Tears were streaming down my face and as the words just poured out of me.
I feel myself in a very dark place right now and need and desire as much light as you can send me.
Please help me to feel safe, loved and secure.
Please send me loving prompts to care for my body.
Please send me loving prompts to remind myself that I already have all that I need.
Please show me the way as I am at this very minute surrendering to your presence and guidance.
Please help me to see the path, and see it CLEARLY and lovingly.
I know that there is light on the other side of this river and if you could just help me to cross it I would be immensely grateful.
Help me to expand and not contract.
Help me to walk and not to be stuck.
Help me to know that you are here beside me and help me to know that things in my world are increasing and moving into positive paradigms.
I am willing and open and ready to take this next step in my life.
I am willing to step into wholeness and drown out the noise.
I am ready to be free of the shackles of my own prisons.
I’m ready to know how to eat, how to stick with it and honor my body.
I am ready to let love into my life.
I am ready and willing to hear and see and honor my truth.
I am ready and willing to live my life outside of the box.
I am ready and willing to truly hear you and motivated to take the right actions for this wholeness to live in every corner of my life.
I ask you to help me. Please help me.
Help me to stand firmly on my own two feet and let the Mother Earth support me.
I am here to serve. Show me how I can serve. I am ready and willing to give for the joy of giving.
Let me be an example of how to be uncluttered at all levels, for myself first so that I may continue to teach others how to do this successfully.
Help me to know when to ask for you to help me.
Help me to be open to receiving. To receiving all the love I have to give inside.
Help me to make this shift.
Help me shift from fear to love.
Help me to be steady and strong and still gentle and permeable with myself and with others.
Help me to let what matters not, fall away.
Help me hold my own hand.
Help hold my inner child’s hand. Help me. Please help me.
Help me to know that everything will be all right.
What started to unravel next was exactly what I asked for even though I didn’t really know what I was calling forward, or how excruciatingly painful it would be.
Some call it the hero’s journey, a spiritual depression or crisis, or shadow work as one moves from darkness into light.
Others call it alchemy, moving from fear to love, ego death, perceived identity loss, disconnection from Source or separation from God. It is a destruction of the falsehoods in your life. The false and untrue part of you. The small self gets put in it’s place to let your higher self take over.
Regardless of what you’d want to call it, whatever dismantling in my life that had already begun in Portugal months before was now rapidly manifesting into a journey that I didn’t recognize. It was an initiation of epic proportions. It was a dark night of the soul.
“The dark night of the soul is a journey into light, a journey from your darkness into the strength and hidden resources of your soul” ~ Caroline Myss
For the next months, I began to experience increasingly intense symptoms that were altering my body, my state of mind and my spirit every day. Some of these symptoms were extreme and confounding, and I would lose myself in trying to understand what the fuck was going on.
I experienced extreme difficulty sleeping; whether I was having trouble falling asleep, waking up several times in the night, or not sleeping at all.
I felt confused and a bit scattered.
I had a hard time focusing on running my business. I was taking an online class and couldn’t even sit through the tutorials. Surprisingly when working with clients and by focusing on them, I was able to pull it together and be present with getting them uncluttered.
My already intuitive self was becoming more and more in tune with other people, and my clairvoyance exploded. I started to see things and feel paranoid, because surely what I seeing couldn’t be true only to later found out that it was true.
Every time I went through another door of grief, I went in for one reason and came out not remembering why I entered in at all.
It was a depth of feeling that I never knew possible, a purging like I never did before. Nothing compared to the weight of this time.
“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them.” ~ Rumi
I discovered the layers I’d avoided my whole life
I felt pain, despair, hopelessness and bleakness on a level I’d never known before.
My hidden shadow self would express itself daily in the form of intense crying, with an unshakeable feeling of doom and gloom coupled with complete and utter despair.
Midway through during my dark night, the everyday pain became more increased in intensity over a period of days. I called these 3-4 day episodes “dark spells”. During these spells is when I would truly go into the abyss and into the underworld. There was no light, no hope and yet nowhere to hide. For a few days in a row, I could do nothing but cry so intensely that I would reach sheer physical exhaustion from how much would come up to feel. My kleenex expenses skyrocketed.
I just cried. Before seeing clients, driving to the clients, and after my work day, this constant despair would come into my heart and I would purge whatever pain was there with these tears. After my tears were dry, I had to nap and rest from the emotional drain doing this purging took on me.
Everything I’d held inside, all the demons, thoughts, limiting beliefs and ridiculous stories were coming up for release faster than I could manage them. The unhealed and wounded part of me was being purged and burning itself off in whatever ways it could.
Although it was during one of these dark spells that the idea for Contemporary Goddess first whispered to me and came into my field of vision, I couldn’t do anything about Her quite yet…
As someone who had been quite successful at numbing herself with food in the past, I could barely eat or nourish myself and lost almost 40 lbs in one year. I could not use food, TV or any other previously successful coping mechanism to distract myself from the relentless pain I was feeling. There was no escape or respite from it.
I felt unmotivated to do the mundane everyday things like the dishes or go buy groceries.
Because I could barely eat or cook, each night I would go get food at the Whole Foods hot bar and the sweet male cashier who would see me every time could see my dark circles and puffy eyes as if he knew there was something going on with me. He tried to do whatever he could in the few minutes we interacted to make me feel better but I just couldn’t interact much.
I felt disconnected from myself and from the world at large and even from my sweet precious dog. I would walk her and feed her and try to connect with her sweet and loving energy and it wouldn’t go in, I couldn’t feel it. Yet in contrast, whatever I was able to feel was painful.
I had very little desire to live. I kept thinking and feeling like I was only here to suffer and that this suffering would never end, and this is what my life would look like forever.
I kept trying to hold onto some form of gratitude for how blessed I was in so many ways and yet again, I couldn’t get in touch with it. I could only think the gratitude, rather than feel it or experience it.
I know now that all of these experiences and feelings are hallmarks of the Dark Night of the Soul, but when one is the thick of it, there is nothing but despair and hopelessness.
I felt like a part of me was dying. It was dying.
There was a constant feeling of discomfort and unease in my body and it didn’t let up for a long time.
I felt listless. I felt sad and when I couldn’t feel that, I felt angry at the Universe and at myself for being is so much pain and not knowing how to get through it. “What did I do to deserve this?” I would ask. During a dark night of the soul, your Soul takes over and literally empties you out. You purge emotions and feel pain like never before and if the people around you are not sensitive to your experience, it only makes things worse.
After the dark spells would pass and there were no tears left to cry, for a few days, I’d start to feel light again. I’d feel an overwhelming sense of calm and connectedness to the world.
Eventually, I started seeing a spiritual healer every week. I started going to an acupuncturist. I started getting massages, I started meditating. Everything and anything I could do to provide my body and soul with some sort of relief and self-care, I did it.
The purpose of the Dark Night is to bring your shadow up to heal, to face itself and then to let go of the parts that no longer serve you. This process is to move you from DOing to BEing. From living from the mind to living from the heart… it is a process that literally feels like heartbreak and cracks you open. More than any breakup, loss or any other loss, this was by far is the hardest thing I have ever been through in my life.
At times my heart chakra center would physically hurt so bad I couldn’t breathe.
Everything and everyone becomes a mirror for what you need to heal and let go of. When you travel or navigate the dark night, there is no map, there is no plan; you just crack open. There are many ways to fall apart, but the most challenging way is for your heart to break. I’ve heard many speak of this and never understood what it was until reflecting on what I received from this deeply despairing time in my life.
I never believed I had courage… and now all I see is how much courage I’ve had; to face my demons, to face myself and what blocked me and now to not abandon myself and lose myself into the suffering.
The degree to which I felt lost is also the degree to which I could feel and experience inner peace.The extreme and polarities exist to show us our range…our full capacity to experience life as a human.
Going through the Dark Night of the Soul taught me so much:
You can’t take everyone with you. Some people you love dearly will leave your life, gently or harshly. They can’t relate to you anymore and you can’t relate to them. Though this may hurt, trust that whatever (and whoever) is falling away is creating space for relationships that have room for your whole self.
You must must must surrender to the process, as hard as it is. When the feelings come up, go into them, not away from them. You may not want to be here anymore, you may have suicidal thoughts, you may feel apathetic, numb, or like you’ll never see the light side of life again. This is a process, and it’s a natural one. Cultivate relationships with people who understand (and have lived through) the Dark Nights – they will have the capacity to witness you and hold you without trying to fix you. Be willing to reach out for help; this is part of the art of surrender.
A part of you is dying, but another part is being born anew. The Dark Night happens so that we can burn away all that does not resonate with our higher self and soul. To allow those relationships, circumstances, and perspectives to enter in, space must be created. This is a process we can engage in consciously, even when life has “gifted” us with BIG changes we didn’t necessarily desire.
This is NOT the time to start a new relationship (you will outgrow this person quickly). It is not time for new beginnings yet. The Dark Night of the Soul generally comes with a lot of dissolution. I was lucky. Some people go through this process and literally lose their life, their car, their marriage, their business, have a health crisis, etc…
New people will start to come in. Be it friends, healers, guides or some type of support. They will show up for you if you allow it. These people will be more resonant and aligned with who you are becoming.
Your priorities will shift. They will shift from must-haves to preferences and some will fall away. I am less attached to what I want and more concerned with what is in my highest good. It matters little what I want anymore, because when you truly surrender to what your purpose is here, what matters is what you want via how your Soul wants to experience it. Some of it pre-destined and always sprinkled in with Free Will on how we choose to experience it.
Tune into the body. Your old crutches will not satisfy or resonate, or your body will outright reject them. Treat it with as much kindness as you can and cultivate as much self-care as you can. Ask it what it needs and it will tell you.
Be gentle with yourself. I urge you to be as gentle as possible even though a part of you may rise to fault you for something.
Good things can happen here. Even in this dark space. If I hadn’t gone through this dissolution, I would not have opened myself to receive what life wants from me. I heard the call of the Goddess early on at other times in my life and I ignored her. I kept on ignoring her, but it was here that her call was the loudest. Later on, the truest version of me was born and I came home to myself.
“In the depth of the winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” ~ Albert Camus
There is light on the other side of this. There is you. There is purpose. There is joy and mostly importantly, there is alignment.
Goddess called me and I answered. I am so grateful that I finally listened and followed her guidance. It is She that lives through me and with me and I will never quiet her voice again.
“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” ~ Haruki Murakami