Dark Night of the Soul

Light grows more dim, The skin begins to crawl,
Darkness grows more deep,
Dark and then the fall.

Air gathers chill, Breath bears no call,
Dusk forebodes night,
Dark and then the fall.

Lonely cleaves to sadness, Fear catches all,
Hate strangles life,
Dark and then the fall.

Life longs for heaven, Death comes to call,
Hell holds despair,
Dark and then the fall.

Shade waits in the light, Evening shadows sprawl,
Dark lengthens in the night,
And swallows all who fall.


Sounds hopeless, does it not? If you truly know what depression is, you’ll know it’s more than sadness. Everyone who’s journey includes walking beside depression may have similar and different experiences, unique to their perspective. For me, depression is like a dark pit that I sometimes find myself in. It lies hidden, as I’m walking through life. Then suddenly, the dark hole opens up. Sometimes, I side-step it. Sometimes, I trip but hang on to the edge. There have been a few times that I found myself at the bottom. My depression episodes may be  triggered by an event in my life, a hurt experienced through a traumatic life event. It may be triggered by hurtful words or actions experienced from another. It may be the insecurities, the voice of Lone Lies, I let get inside my head that lead to my fall. Whatever the source, it gives power to a pain so intense, you feel like you’re drowning in it. Despair begins to take hold. You feel you are sinking or have sunk into the depths. It feels like, no one understands… No one truly cares… You are alone.

One of the most powerful metaphors to me, comes from a movie I grew up watching. I definitely plan on dedicating a post to this children’s movie based on a book called, The Never Ending Story. *Spoiler Alert* If you haven’t watched it, I suggest you stop here and find it. If you have, maybe this will bring this epic children’s movie from the 80s into a whole new light.

I won’t tell you how the movie begins and what leads to this certain point, but for clarity on the metaphor, know that the world of Fantasia is being devoured by this dark force called, The Nothing. This scared me so bad as a kid. When The Nothing shows up, it’s like a storm that boils into the area of the land. Everything is pulled into it, the people, trees, and sand… everything. Everything begins to disappear.

I’m pretty sure this may have been one of the reasons I was so terrified of tornado storms in Texas, and fueled the desire I had to study meteorology in college and want to chase storms.

Back to the story! The hero selected is Atreyu. The final hope Fantasia has, rests with a boy. This boy is considered a warrior among his people, despite his age. He is given The Auryn, a talisman that is 2 snakes intertwined and creates a circular shape, and told that it will guide and protect him on his journey.

I will revisit The Auryn, other parts of his journey, and the story’s symbolism. But to get to The Nothing, let’s fast forward towards the end of his journey. After much of the world is decimated, after he had been separated from his companion and had lost The Auryn, he begins searching a tumbling ruin he finds off the coast. Inside, he sees all the images of his journey painted in different rooms on the walls. He becomes aware of all the different stages of his journey. He then finds himself staring at a point he hasn’t experienced yet. As he stares at the final painting, he observes a great beast painted in the darkness of a den. He hears a growl and turns to encounter a great wolf-like beast, named G’mork, that has been hunting him from the beginning of his journey. Their conversations is as follows:

G’mork: If you come any closer, I will rip you to shreds.
Atreyu: Who are you?
G’mork: I am G’mork. And you, whoever you are, can have the honor of being my last victim.
Atreyu: I will not die easily. I am a warrior!
G’mork: Ha! Brave warrior, then fight The Nothing.
Atreyu: But I can’t. I can’t get beyond the boundaries of Fantasia.
G’mork laughs.
Atreyu: What’s so funny about that?
G’mork: Fantasia has no boundaries.
Atreyu: That’s not true! You’re lying.
G’mork: Foolish boy, don’t you know anything about Fantasia? It’s the world of human fantasy. Every part of it, every creature, is a piece of the dreams and hopes of mankind. Therefore, it has no boundaries.
Atreyu: But why is Fantasia dying, then?!
G’mork: Because people have begun to lose their hopes and forget their dreams. So The Nothing grows stronger.
Atreyu: What is The Nothing?
G’mork: It’s the emptiness that’s left. It’s a despair, destroying this world. And I have been trying to help it.
Atreyu: But why?!
G’mork: Because people who have no hopes are easy to control. And whoever has control… has the power.
Atreyu: Who are you really?…
G’mork: I am the servant of the power behind The Nothing. I was sent to kill the only one who could have stopped The Nothing. I lost him in the Swamps of Sadness. His name… was Atreyu!
As the ground shakes and the temple walls quake and split, Atreyu falls. He grabs a piece of broken stone that is a sharp shard split off from the tumbling walls around them. He stands ready to fight.
Atreyu: If we’re about to die, I’d rather die fighting! Come for me, G’mork! I am Atreyu!
G’mork roars and lunges out of the dark den for Atreyu. As his body hurls forward onto the boy, Atreyu stabs the great beast with the sharp stone into its heart.

I’m telling you, looking past the old technology and giant “Jim Henson” creatures, this story is epic. To me, G’mork is the voice of dark thoughts that enter, that give power to the Darkness. The Nothing is the state of despair, a place where hope isn’t to be found, where the Light is lost. Will you stand and defend yourself when the Darkness approaches? Will you let the voice of lies convince you, that you are Nothing?

Who is this Voice? Where does it come from?

At a point in my life last year, my journey went through a very dark period. It was during this dark period that I wrote the poem above. After experiencing another loss, I found out that a trusted friend had tried to hurt me. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Our insecurities, our voice of lies, were feeding off each other. I couldn’t hear the still, small voice that was telling me, I am not defined by my insecurities. And neither are they.

After making it through a hurricane and an immense state of fear I think the whole community was feeling, the voice of lies grew stronger. I started seeing a doctor after finding lumps in places I shouldn’t have, and clumps of my hair started falling out. This year, I actually had a friend ask me if I’d gotten a hair cut. Because my hair was pulled up under a hat, all my new hair was hanging out, brushing my shoulders. Because of the third loss I had encountered, and the physical symptoms that were manifesting, my doctor prescribed serotonin regulating antidepressants. What I later found out, was that on top of all the things going on in my life, there were a couple vital nutritional needs being neglected. There was a supplement I had been on for too long, and a diet restriction I had placed in my life that caused me to become deficient in an essential amino acid required to produce serotonin. My doctor told me there wasn’t a way to measure the serotonin in my brain. But after much research, I learned that most of our serotonin is produced in our stomachs. I will discuss these findings in another blog post, the importance of nutritional needs and depression.

The point of all this description is, that I had lost the tools I needed to defend myself. I became weak to the voice of lies. The lies that were telling me that all my friends were false, no one cares about me, I should just let go. I believed them. I had forgotten my Identity. I was lost. It was a dark and dangerous place.

I’ve read in a book called, A New Earth, that there is a Collective Pain that exists. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. It discusses the Pain and the Ego in great depth. I’ll leave that for the book.

There are belief systems that discuss the possible source of Darkness- the pain and the Lies.

In Buddhism, there is the Hungry Ghost, that represents the Poverty Mentality. It is depicted as having skinny appendages, a small mouth,  and a large stomach. It is never able to get enough because of its skinny neck. It is never able to hold enough because of its skinny arms. It is in a constant state of need and unfulfillment. Nothing can satisfy it. The voice of lies can lead us to this place where we can no longer see the good, the things to be grateful for. The darkness may become so great, that we no longer see the Light.

I was brought up to believe that there was a Great Adversary, the Father of Lies. In the story of this adversary, before his Fall from Grace, he was known as The Morning Star. But when he believed himself to be greater, no longer needing The Light of the Universe, and sought to exalt himself above The Creator, the source of Love, he was cast down to darkness and doomed to be separated forever from the Love and Light. And throughout the story of this being, he is always seeking a way to prove himself. He is driven by his pride and selfish desire, to bring others down to his state, that he is always “…prowling about like a roaring lion, seeking those to devour…”

Whatever the source of Darkness, I advise you not to reach out to it, whether you find it in yourself or someone else. The Darkness seeks to devour. We’ve heard of energy vampires. I believe there are people who have been so consumed by the Darkness, the pain they feel, the insecurities that manifest, the voice of Lies they hear, they become lost to narcissistic and sociopathic behavior. They feel they are trapped. They are in a place where they cannot see outside of “self.” They do not see or hear the voice of Light. They have become lost to their true selves. Do not become consumed by fear and pain. There is that other voice I’ve talked about; a still, small voice that comes from the Heart. Look to the Light it emits. Once you become aware of it, the Light illuminates the dark. Even just a small light illuminates the darkness around it. Even a small light inspires hope, like the star in the night sky.

At this point last year, I found myself in the depths of the dark night of My Soul. I had lost myself, forgotten my Identity. I questioned the sincerity of my friends and family. I felt so totally alone. But, there was still the Light. Luck would have a good friend reach out, unknowing of what I was going through. A friend, in the right place at the right time, was an Earth Angel when I needed a voice to call out through the dark. I’m so grateful to her and the constancy of my husband. I’m so grateful that I listened. It fills me with emotion to think on that period of time. I’m so glad that I remembered the Light. C.S. Lewis wrote, “To what will you look for help, if you will not look to that which is stronger than yourself?” You’ll hear me say this many times, sometimes we need a helping hand, someone to throw us a life preserver while we tread the dark waters. But ultimately, it is up to us to decide to hold on. Reach out for that hand. The night is always darkest before the dawn. The night always ends, and with the ending, the morning sun brings the light to illuminate a new day. Reach out to the Light in your Life. That Light shines awareness on the situation. It shines through the darkness of pain and insecurities. It dissipates the voice of Lies we hear. The Light that shines comes from Love, and that Love lives within us all. Always be Aware, and defend yourself from what brings the Darkness into your Life.

 It feels almost strange to say, but without the darkness, we do not know the Light. They seem to not exist, or maybe we do not understand them, without the other. I am always reading or watching history. I was reading about Richard Nixon, and came across something he said as he was leaving the Presidency. He said:
We think that when we suffer a defeat, that all is ended. Not true. Because only if you’ve been in the deepest valley, can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain. Others may hate you. But those who hate you don’t win…. unless, you hate them. And then you destroy yourself.
Whatever your feelings may be of this President, he was a man who had gone down a dark path. He embraced the insecurities in his life. He was consumed by them. After the end, he was devastated. But in his parting words, we are reminded, that even going through the deepest night, we can find the Light.

We are not our insecurities. We are not our depression. It does not define us. It is not our identity. It’s a part of our story. It’s a part of our journey. And if we allow it, through the Light of Awareness, it will help us to become better people. “People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” Book of Matthew

We do not have to succumb to the darkness of night. Behind the clouds in the dark, the light of the sun in reflecting on the Moon. The stars are there in the night sky. There is beauty that lies hidden in the dark. As you embrace your journey in life, embrace the Light. There is Light to be found in other people, and a Light to be found within Yourself.

Even in the darkness of night, may we hear the voice of Light.


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