The Dark Night of My Soul.
Many of you who follow me, know by now that I often talk about my dark sides, my periods as I call them. But these last few months have been different. Very different. I’ve written about feeling naked and alone in the past, but that was nothing compared to where I was at now, and partly still am.
I knew it wasn’t clinical depression, as I’ve experienced that before. But something was going on for sure. Many times, I felt such deep sadness, such despair that I thought of ending it all. The pain was so intense, I never knew mental pain could be this intense. But, every time the ending it all thought entered my mind, I started crying uncontrollably. I knew it wasn’t death that I wanted, it was life. But how to get there? I was in “fixing” mode, I needed to fix myself. I just didn’t know how to get back to the light. Everything seemed hopeless, endless.
And then, last week a friend shared this article with me, and finally I had some aha moments. This was what I was experiencing, a dark night of the soul, and with that, the death of my ego. Every spiritual seeker can encounter this, no matter what kind of path you are on. It is when you find yourself stripped of everything. Because that was what happened to me. Maybe some call it an identity crisis.
But this was just what happened. I was stripped of all of my (false) identities. I had been asking for certain things in my life, wishing for things, had deep desires. And I manifested them, maybe not in the way I had envisioned them, but certainly in the way that would bring me the deepest lessons. I was nothing. Nobody. Because all of my life, my identity had been linked to being someone. Being someone to myself, being a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, an acquaintance, a colleague or peer, an entrepreneur, a supporter, a carer for my pet animals, a warrior for the planet, the environment. You name it. It was all gone. I had nothing. No marriage, no partner, no money, no business, no work, no home. Nothing. I was wallowing in self-pity, feeling guilt and shame, experiencing an intense sensation of loneliness, and I was sure I was being punished for all my actions and non-actions, all my thoughts and non-thoughts, all my words, spoken and unspoken, written and unwritten. I must have done so much wrong in my life or past lives to end up this way.
And partially I did ask for it, I did desire a simplified life, I was looking for ways to live with as little as money and materialism as possible, and I did declutter on every level. I made that all happen.
I went into blaming mode for a while, especially towards my parents, my ex-husband, my family, my friends, now and in the past, society, the Universe, life itself.
I didn’t see a way out. The few people that did reach out to me I shut out, some on purpose, others because I didn’t want to bother them. I stepped into comparison mode, because there were others on the planet that were way worse off than me. At least I was still able to eat, I had a roof over my head. I was physically okay as far as I knew, it was just something mental. And I should be grateful, humble. That somewhere, some people still had my back. For whatever their reasons might have been, because part of me couldn’t believe that they actually cared for me. Part of me was believing they only did it to feed their own karma. I didn’t trust anyone anymore, apart from 1 or 2 people.
This dark night has been going on for a while, on and off. Sometimes more present than other times. Especially when I was in the UK, I was able to enjoy things, the company, nature, the animals, my dog, reading and more. I did have good times, laughed a lot. A tiny spark was set off during my time there. But then I had no choice but to go back to the Netherlands, and this is when my dark night fully set in. In all its glory. Because I now also gave up on being an entrepreneur or self-employed, I had no inspiration for writing anymore, even the story-writing adventure I started didn’t spark me. Even though my mind did not see these things as a failure, just as a detour, my soul and body responded very differently. They did see it as a failure. I was in denial. And from there it was hard to get back into job searching.
At this point I had absolutely no self-worth, self-esteem, self-confidence. Nothing. And of course, everything that happened at this point was confirmation for me that I was nothing. That I was a complete failure. People started giving me tips and advice and I saw them all as devastating critique on my being. As yet more confirmations of my nothingness. Of the feeling that I did everything wrong in my life. That I was being punished.
When I finally got myself up to a point to just start looking, rejection came, ignoring came. Me feeling lost in the new ways of job-searching, the demands that employers put in. Often the descriptions seemed like a foreign language to me. And with my level of motivation, how could I ever find a job? How could I ever go to a job interview in this state of being?
But as said, then the article was shared with me. And it all started to make sense. A little spark was ignited. Just enough. A shimmer of hope, and I clung on to it. Of course, I wasn’t going to give that a lot of attention, as by now I was so afraid of being disappointed, that I just didn’t want to see anything positive anymore, and certainly not have any expectations.
This week, I finally had a job interview. I didn’t go into it with any expectation, but I did stay totally true to myself, wearing the clothes I always wear, saying the things I always say, being totally honest about where I am at and what they could expect of me, and to my big surprise, an hour later I heard I got the job. It is a temporary job, but still.
And then an interesting thing happened. I posted on social media and told people about this and suddenly everybody started reaching out again. And then I felt anger. Because people can handle that. The positive. The uplifting. But not the dark night. Everybody assumed I was so happy, so relieved. Part of me was certainly relieved, but happy? That was a bit too much to ask. Because, to me, this still is just a detour to eventually do something that makes my heart sing more. It doesn’t mean I will not do my very best in this job, I always do my very best, but it is not my dream job. If such a thing even exists. It’s a means to an end. I realise that for most people money and security are more important than adventure and exploring, and even though, for now, I need that bit of security, it doesn’t mean I will give up on other things. Or suddenly drop all my values and try to fit in. I don’t work like that. And it certainly is not an instant end of my dark night.
Because, to be honest, I’ve never learned this much, never grown as much as I have now. This is true transformation. I couldn’t help but think of animals who go through intense transformations, like butterflies, dragonflies, cicadas. Of animals who shed their skins, like snakes and spiders. It is a painful process. But very rewarding. However, we tend to only look at the end product whilst most of their lives these animals spend in another form. Like caterpillars. A butterfly spends more time as a caterpillar than as a butterfly. But how often do we admire the caterpillar? How often do we acknowledge the whole process? Appreciate all the steps?
I believe that it all is about acceptance. Of everything. Of every part, every phase, every thought, every feeling, every cycle. But we don’t do that do we. We live in constant state of duality. And as I’ve felt and shared before, by denying any part of ourselves, by suppressing it, it will start festering. Like a wound that is not cleaned before being stitched up. I even believe that is what is happening in society on a bigger scale. We are not healing the wounds, the ancestral wounds, societal wounds, the patriarchal wounds, we suppress, deny, and it’s festering. The whole positivity movement isn’t helping with that either. According to that we should only be positive and happy. Because that’s the only state of being. It’s our birth right to feel joy and happiness. But this is not a constant state of being. How can it?
The whole mental wellbeing business, law of attraction, power of positivity, it’s not helping. I dare to claim that it will even let the feelings of lack of self-worth, self-acceptance and self-love get worse. Because, when you are not in a state of constant positivity or happiness, you are doing something wrong. There is something wrong with you. You don’t fit the profile. And then another thing enters the picture. Punishment. Most systems work with some kind of punishment. Some call its hell, the underworld, karma. All the same thing. It’s always about denying some part of yourself. Not accepting all of you. Trying to fit in where you shouldn’t try to fit in. Where you should start accepting all of you.
And so, the wounds keep festering, and we see an uprising of violence, abuse (of each other and the planet), racism, far right, extreme left. The duality is getting more intense. The rich are becoming richer, the poor becoming poorer. There is a lot of blaming others for everything. There is little or no taking responsibilities for our own lives, actions and/or choices. We blame our parents, ancestors, history, politicians, corporate, partners, immigrants, each other, or some higher power like the Universe, Source, God. We expect them to change it all for us. We have given away our power.
And then there is the constantly trying to fix things. This again is part of the denial strategy. Some are eager with “helping” you to be in a constant state of positivity, practicing law of attraction. Some will add spiritual practices, with or without the abuse or misuse of substances.
And it isn’t working. It all isn’t working. We are only creating La La Land, pretending it’s all not there. Fake living. Fake being. The amount of people suffering from anxiety, depression and more mental health problems is alarming. The numbers of suicide going up. Addictions. Escapism. The amount of suffering in the poor countries is enormous. The amount of suffering because of religion or any other form of oppression. Physical health problems follow this, and I don’t think I know anyone who is physically not suffering from one thing or another. It’s like a game, a competition, I’ve got this and this, what have you got? As if you don’t fit in if you don’t have something going on. If there’s no label or box that you fit into.
It’s a competition, it’s all a competition. With life. With each other. And we are brought up to be competitive, we don’t belong if we don’t feel some form of wanting to be better. Better than what? It’s all implying we are not perfect as we are, isn’t it? That life isn’t perfect? That we need to change all the time. To grow. To strive for bigger, better and more. Even though I feel society is changing somewhat from money-materialism based to experience based, the system is still the same. And it has consequences. Because now we need to be happy all the time. Everything is feeding this, social media, advertising, Hollywood. I did it myself, make a bucket list, wish-lists, dreams and desires. I fell for it too. I literally wrote down; I want more of those moments of bliss. But it doesn’t work like that. Even if you are able to maintain that state for a while, what happens when the darkness comes creeping in through other channels? A loved one suffering, a devastating health-crisis, a situation where you lose everything. When your soul is urging you that it is time for a new level of growth? When the dark night comes to the surface? Will you be able to cope? Will you embrace it? Or run around looking for happiness and positivity gurus to help you fix it as soon as possible, which usually means suppressing the dark night. Or will you fully embrace the path that is presented to you? Accept that this is exactly where you need to be? That there is no right or wrong path, just life? I wonder.
I also other thoughts and aha moments through all of this. Like for instance: why do people who want to change the system step out of the system? Isn’t it better to try to change it from the inside out? But no, we step outside and create a safe community with like-minded people where we just keep preaching to the choir. This way things will never change. I did it too! I also stepped out of the system. But now? I am not so sure that is the right strategy. I am looking towards the younger generations, like Greta Thunberg for instance, who is trying to change the system from within.
But, even with all of that, it’s still duality. It’s still not accepting things as they are isn’t it? It’s still trying to step into the light. It’s still denying the dark. It’s not about letting your light shine so bright that it will chase away the dark, or your shadows. This darkness is a part of each and every one of us and will find its way back. One way or another. Don’t let the light shine so bright that you will just crash and burn.
It’s often said that the human race is the most intelligent, the most evolved. Yet, when I look at the rest of the animal kingdom, I doubt that. To me they have already achieved what we lack, the dissolving of duality. But then again, even if we try to achieve that, it still means we are not accepting. It’s a huge paradox isn’t it?
So, no, I am not out of my dark night yet, but I am fully accepting, even embracing where I am at, because it’s giving me more insight, clarity and growth than I ever have experienced before. I am grateful for this process. I wouldn’t be going through this if I wasn’t able to handle it. And apparently, I am handling it. I am still here.
I do believe that there is one thing that can help, and that is love. Love of the unconditional kind. That feeling that you get when you connect to nature, to a new-born, to your pet animal. And that kind of love is the only thing that will help me heal this part of my journey. That kind of love I hope I can now finally start feeling for myself. Maybe I now am finally free of the need of love and acknowledgment from others. As someone said this week that they were proud of me. I know I’ve been craving for things like that for many years, but I realise now that the only thing that matters is that I can say I am proud of myself. It’s only then when I can start to receive compliments like that, because up till now I didn’t feel it myself. Again, a paradox, because I needed the compliments to feel good, and when I fully love, accept and honour myself I will no longer need the compliments.
If this all doesn’t resonate with you that’s fine, I mostly write for myself anyway. If this helps others look at things differently than that’s a bonus, but there is no need to follow any of this. Most of my writings are just my experiences, my own insights and opinions, they are not facts. I might be “wrong” about everything, but even that doesn’t matter, does it? It’s all good.