For some time now I’ve been questioning my path and wondering what’s next. The old ideals stopped making sense somewhere along the way. Belief structures quit resonating. The foundation started to crack, then crumble, then fall away completely.
In short, I don’t know what’s true for me anymore.
I scratched and clawed to find something—anything—to hold onto so I could feel safe again. But there wasn’t anything. It was as if I was floating in the ocean with nothing and no one in sight. Which direction do you swim when you don’t know where land is?
Alone, in the dark, I just had to wait. Fuck.
I’ve wanted to write about where I’m at, but I didn’t know how to explain what was going on. I still don’t. I’ve felt this general sense of malaise. This total lack of motivation. This utter directionlessness. Just blah. I haven’t felt particularly turned on by anything. I have felt alone, but didn’t necessarily want to be around anyone.
I’ve been irritated, annoyed, prickly. I hesitated to write when I felt so pissy. It’s hard to seem enlightened when you feel like shit.
I’ve tried to surrender to this…whatever it is. To not follow that compulsion to put a happy face on it. In the past the happy face was the way to turn around a low mood. Always look for the positive, I would remind myself. And that did help, or so I thought…until it didn’t. But lately it just started to feel a little delusional. Like I was lying to myself.
What’s wrong with admitting something is hard? What’s wrong with being honest with yourself?
I am no stranger to the dark bits. Depression is an old friend of mine. And while it’s just an occasional visitor now, I still fear inviting it in for a long weekend. Partly because I’m afraid it might decide to take up residence again, but also because our social and cultural conditioning leans toward happiness at all costs.
In our uber positive society it’s not acceptable to admit life sucks sometimes. It’s not okay to not only recognize I’m having a hard time, but do nothing to change it. To just ride it out and see where it takes me.
And that’s the part that bothers me. I don’t want to put on a happy face just because it makes you feel better. When I don’t say how I really feel, it’s like I’m being smothered. And honestly, that feels worse than the dark bits ever could.
There’s all kinds of advice about how to feel good when you don’t. Turn that frown upside down, change your attitude, be grateful, get outside, exercise, help others…and on and on it goes. But all that trying to change things insinuates it’s not okay to feel bad, alone, confused, angry.
I used to have a friend who, when I was down, insisted I would feel better if I went out. At first I believed her. I thought there was something wrong with me if I didn’t feel happy…something that needed to be fixed. But after a few evenings of me either crying in a bar or wanting to punch people in the face, I realized this was not the answer.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with positivity in general. Where I think it can be harmful is when I use positivity to not feel anything uncomfortable. I need to feel bad when I feel bad. Denying that is like rejecting a part of me.
Life is messy and things don’t go according to plan. And sometimes it sucks. But the dark times aren’t just to be tolerated until we can figure out how to be happy again. They should be revered the same way those joyous times are…as just a part of the experience of being human.
I don’t know where I’m going and I don’t know what any of this means. But I’m here. So I’m going to let this be whatever it is…dark, scary, uncertain. There’s still the urge to try to change it so I can feel better, but now there’s an even stronger pull to let it crack everything open. Let it all fall apart and see what comes of the broken pieces.
There comes a time when you can’t sidestep the shadows with positive thoughts anymore. You have to sit in the darkness, the nothingness, the not knowing, without trying to change it. Feel as bad as you feel. And wait. And listen.
I read this quote from the Bruce Cockburn song, Pacing the Cage in Sonja Alarr’s blog and it sums things up perfectly for me. “Sometimes the best map will not guide you. You can’t see what’s ‘round the bend. Sometimes the road leads through dark places. Sometimes the darkness is your friend.”
Here’s to the dark bits…may we welcome them with open arms.
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