Even in Darkness There is Light
It’s gray in New York City. It’s been raining the past two days. The pattering of the raindrops on the windowpane is a comforting lullaby. I just got back into bed after my morning yoga and meditation. It was a more pensive practice with deep stretches. I didn’t stand up once. The floor was comforting— keeping my head below my hips and lying horizontal made me feel better. There is a muted sadness in the air. For the most part, I’m a love ball bursting with smiles and energy, and at the same time, I crave rainy days. There is something therapeutic and balancing about having a day for mourning. I appreciate the days that are a little darker to reflect on life. They give us a reason to slow down and actually feel our emotions.
Last night I jumped out of bed at 2am to the screams of a friend. Heart breaking screams awoke me. I immediately knew what happened. A few hours earlier she came into the apartment telling me her friend, who was due to arrive in NYC the following morning was missing. Involuntarily I shuddered— chills scorched my body and tears flooded my eyes. Not that I’ve ever met this guy, but my intuition knew something was wrong. After finishing some work in bed (yes I know it’s bad sleep hygiene and I don’t recommend this to anyone— deadlines result in abnormal behaviors sometimes), I begin drifting off to sleep when the screams stop my heart. I run into the next room and she is on the phone sobbing.
He died. He overdosed. His colleagues knew something was wrong when he didn’t show up to work. They found him in his apartment. This is the second time in ONE WEEK that someone with one degree of separation from me has overdosed. This seems unreal. Believe it or not, this is more common than we think whether done purposely or accidentally. I have people in my life that have attempted. I remember working in Bellevue hospital and treating patients that tried and also patients on heroin numbing themselves from the pain they felt. I’m not going to get into the ins and outs drug abuse, that’s not the point of this blog. It’s more about what’s the mindset that leads us down a path to self-medicate in a way that can lead to death? How can we prevent this?
Turns out he was depressed. He had reasons to be depressed. We all do. So how do we cope? Some people jump straight to thinking Prozac, but that’s a cover up. Why not dig deeper and understand why? Therapy, meditation, yoga, and more tools exist to dig through our subconscious and understand our behaviors and coping mechanism. Could it be as simple as feeling our emotions and riding them out? There are days like these rainy ones that I like to dig up some stuff, lay in the darkness, and feel it. This may seem strange but the choices are to ride these waves of emotions, or brush them under the rug and pretend that everything is fine and dandy. The thing about brushing dirt under the rug is that the rug can only hide so much before the dirt starts trickling out of the sides. And if something unexpected comes and lands on that rug… boom, an explosion happens, manifesting as deep depression, suicidal thoughts, anger, pain, self-medicating drug use, you name it.
The way to see the light is to embrace the dark. In darkness there is light. We all have wounds from our past and present that haunt us. Our parents have damaged us despite doing their absolute best. Just today I cried out of frustration because my dad has a tendency to give me a hard time when I ask for anything and this has been happening since I was a young girl. I’m a grown woman now and I’m still dealing with past wounds. Asking to be picked up from college and having to hear no take the bus would anger me. Children ask their parents for things and I felt my “needs” weren’t being met. Today I was transported back to those days because I asked my dad to find some baby photos for a project, and received a reply insinuating to come home and do it myself. I could feel the anger rising in my chest. I know he is busy working and has done so much for me as a parent; and at the same time it hits wounds causing me to cry, feel angry, hurt, frustrated and sad.
There are deeper wounds there that need to be healed. By sitting with these feelings and taking this time for myself, I begin to understand why I get so emotional. And then I can begin to heal. I feel my emotions and I accept them. I reach out to my support system, the wonderful friends in my life and I talk about it. I also talk to myself. Being aware of wounds and pain — realizing them and then feeling them— is the first step to releasing them.
Why even bother digging through wounds of the past and trying to heal them? Well, they can begin to manifest is different ways with new relationships in our lives. Wounds result in heartache and can cause us to shut our hearts down preventing love in our life subconsciously, and consciously. Holding onto these wounds can also cause us pain, which can lead to traumatic endings. It’s worth digging through these wounds because we come out of it feeling lighter and more in love with life and those around us. We do it for a brighter tomorrow.
The good thing is our subconscious is very protective, only allowing us to dig through the darkness we are ready to work through without giving us a nervous breakdown. When we have disagreements with our loved ones, wounds are touched and we can feel ourselves getting emotional. It’s ok to take a time out to feel these emotions. It’s about feeling the emotions NOT acting on them— like being angry and choosing not to raise your voice. It’s hard to ride out a wave of emotion before discussing the drama at hand, trust me I know. The flip side is we get reactive and then we do or say things we may later regret. I give myself a time out when I feel this way and I come out of the cocoon of emotions feeling lighter with a better understanding of why it happened. Over time there are fewer and fewer buttons to press.
Asking for help and talking about our feelings is probably one of the hardest things to do because we become vulnerable and we are afraid of causing any storms. When we choose to ignore things out of fear of not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings or not wanting to bother anyone we are only hurting ourselves. Yes, there are constructive ways to go about it, and it can lead to a growing experience for everyone involved when coming from a place of love— wanting to heal and understand.
I enjoy feeling my emotions, even the darker ones. When I’m sad, let me be sad. I like to play sad music and lay in bed. Let me mourn and wallow in my misery. I’m not trying to bring anyone down to the darkness with me; I just need this time to release it all. Swimming through the darkness allows for a cleansing, dissolving it away. So when people ask me about my magnetic energy, it’s because I also take the time to shed the darkness, allowing me to shine my light brighter.
I intermittently hear her crying in the apartment as she breaks the news to friends over and over again. The darkness of the apartment and the pattering of the rain provide the perfect cocoon for grieving. I recently read about a Buddhist meditation called Tonglin. The idea is to breathe in all the pain, heartache, anger, darkness, etc. and breathe out love, compassion, and light. You can do it for yourself and you can do it for others. The idea is to embrace, merge with, and transform the darkness into light. So in essence you’re helping others transform their darkness so that their light can shine. We are all shining lights, and we all have darkness that can cause transient dimming. The good news is we can release that darkness, and the first step begins with embracing it.
There is a tendency to think that light is good and darkness is bad. In reality darkness and light exist together. It’s a part of the dualistic world we live in. It just is. We all have wounds we are working through. We all need help. We all need a shoulder to lean on. We all need love. That’s why I’m such a believer in being kind and loving because you never know whose day you may brighten up. A smile from you can light up an entire room. Your smile can be the light for someone on the darkest of days. Checking in with a friend or loved one you know may be feeling a bit down could make a huge difference in their life. And if you’re ever feeling down, know that there is someone in the world that loves you so much, It may seem impossible, but calling on them for some love will make them happy to be there for you. Remember that we are all someone’s children. Spread love. I dedicate this blog to the families of those men who overdosed and wish for everyone to find the emotional love and support they need to get through the darkest hours.