This is it! – Dark nights of the soul

Photo: Emmanuelle Stathopoulos

Photo: Emmanuelle Stathopoulos


When things don’t work out the way you want them to, you have been struggling for years, given all you’ve got and nothing happens it can be tough. You may feel discouraged, disappointed, defeated, distressed, disempowered. All the big D’s may be out to get you, beat you to the ground, ruthlessly, cruelly, relentlessly. You may feel there is no respite, one thing after another, when it rains it pours after all. Then you may fall, be unable to get up again, feel broken, a total failure, ashamed, loose all faith in yourself and your abilities.

It may come on suddenly or gradually. It may strike you like lightning or creep up on you like a snake. In either case there comes a moment where you can’t even think, you feel you have fallen into a pit and don’t know how to climb back up again. All you see is darkness, all you feel is pain. A gnawing, unbearable pain made up of all your failures, lost opportunities, rejections, betrayals, mistakes, lack of nerve. All your unaccomplished tasks, unrealized dreams, regrets, broken promises. The chances you didn’t take, the lucky breaks you didn’t get, the exhaustion, the hopelessness, the desperation, the rage.

The ‘Why me?’, the ‘ Why now?’, the ‘When?’. The glimpse of the end of the road, the terrifying thoughts that you don’t even want to entertain.

Your body feels as broken as your soul, unable to move a muscle, unwilling to talk, you just wish for one thing and that is to stop thinking. Stop this mad and ferocious cloud of fear that takes over you, stop time in it’s tracks. You just want to breathe, breathe and not feel the fear, the dread. Breathe and look around you like an animal, without judgement, without analyzing, without making scenarios of doom.

You dig out those Mindfulness books, you listen to YouTube relaxation music, you lay down on the floor arms stretched out, staring at the ceiling, wishing the Universe will take pity on you and put an end to this nightmare! You know you’re in deep shit, your mind tells you so, your soul tells you so, your body tells you so. You know you got to do something yet that something is covered by the fog of your confusion and fear. You need a break, a break from everything and anything. Like a wild wounded animal you instinctively search for a cave to retreat into and lick your wounds. Like a general who has lost a battle, you need time and a safe space to regroup.

You are unable to answer the questions of your loved ones, you can’t even answer your own. You feel bad, you drown in remorse and shame for your incapacitated state yet you know there is nothing you can do at this moment. You fear you may hurt or even loose those you love most because you are unable to explain what’s going on inside you. You worry they might misunderstand your lack of response and think you don’t care about them any more, or even worse, that they may get tired of your incapacitated state and stop loving you.The levels of your fears and insecurities increase at a dizzying speed, you think you are going to explode. Instead you break down…

Your system gives up, surrenders, to protect you from losing your mind. You remain listless, exhausted, stunned, unable to speak. The only thing you want to do is sleep, sleep and rest and all over again. You don’t even have the strength to feel bad, ashamed, hopeless or helpless, you pray to feel nothing. That is when the healing process begins. By allowing yourself to be broken, vulnerable, unable.

You slowly and tentatively give yourself the time and space to heal. Your mind takes second place to your heart which has now become your guiding light. You function on automated pilot, that of your instincts of survival. Sleep, drink, eat, rest. There may or may not be a lot of crying but even those tears flow effortlessly, automatically, without being questioned, they just do.

You don’t have the luxury of worrying about what other people may think or feel at those moments, you got to trust that whoever matters will understand and those who don’t are not meant to be in your life.

You can’t be concerned about how others perceive you, your state of being, you can only be. You can’t afford to try and please anyone, be nice, be considerate, go out of your way. You are priority number one now, even if this may be the first time in your life. You got to do what you got to do, otherwise you know only too well and with a terrifying certainty what awaits you if you don’t.

There’s no more time, no more space for ifs and buts, you are broken and you must heal. In order to do this you must take the time and make the space no matter what. No matter what others think or feel, no matter what obligations you may have, no matter anything. If you don’t you will die, or at least this is how it feels inside.

You learn how to listen to yourself, your body, your soul, you pay attention. Like a good little student, you do as yourself tells you to. No more fooling around about what others may want or need or situations and circumstances may demand. No more self doubting or questioning. This is it and that is that. If you don’t trust yourself you’re done and you know it. You can’t afford to wonder or worry whether you are being selfish or if you might hurt someone’s feelings, you got to put yourself first if you want to survive.

All these years of putting yourself on the back burner, of forcing yourself to run on empty are over, you got to do what you got to do. Your loved ones got to understand that if you don’t, there won’t be no more you to talk about. Not just in a dramatic sense - even though this may also be the case- but in the very simple sense that if you don’t take the time to heal and do what you got to do, you won’t be the person they knew any more. At least not the person they loved and cared for in the first place.

The dark nights of the soul, the break downs, however you may want to call them are not for the faint of heart, it takes enormous courage and strength to rebuild oneself back up from the pit. You need to acknowledge and respect that. This is perhaps the most important job you have ever done. If you don’t do it well you won’t be of any use to anybody, especially your loved ones.

Do yourself a favour and take the time to heal well. Take all the time and all the space you need. If you don’t do it, nobody else will do it for you. This is it!

Emma StathComment