My dark night of the soul happened not long after what most people refer to as their ‘awakening’. It was a couple of days before New Year’s Eve and I was still recovering from a party session that I had gone way too hard on. My persistent hangover and depleted reserves became the catalyst for some of the darkest days of my life.
It started off as a fluttering of my heart, a flit of nervousness and confusion; then in a few minutes; it had erupted into an all-consuming terror that would not let go of its grip on my mind. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move, and this inexplicable feeling of fear became my entire world.
As this anxiety attack blossomed inside me I thought I was going to die. Literally. Between brief moments of emotional control, I felt as if my internal organs were starting to fail me one at a time. As I collapsed on the floor in uncontrollable sobs; I wondered if I even had enough in me to get up off the ground and call an ambulance.
A lot of people think that they can handle death, that whether there is an afterlife or not; it doesn’t matter because you either go to ‘heaven’ or you cease to exist. It’s not until the actual moment descends upon you; where you truly believe that “this is it, this is the end”, where you truly start to fear. ‘I don’t want to die’ I remember thinking to myself over and over again as the endless waves of fear consumed me.
There must have been a point inside me mentally where I had finally given up the fight. Minutes…hours had passed, and I was so exhausted from fighting that I just couldn’t do it anymore. I surrendered to it all. I helplessly allowed the fear to consume me, for death to just take me, as it crescendoed to an unbearable height and then…. nothing…
I wasn’t dead
As this realisation hit; the intensity of fear had lessened to a point where I was able to get up off the ground and move. I’m not dying. I can do this. I’m not dying.
And so, began a pattern over the next three days where I discovered that certain things could lessen the anxiety enough for me to function. Slow, long walks arounds the block allowed me an hour of reprieve and listening to the meditation sounds of Tom Kenyon on repeat gave me enough peace between the peaks of anxiety to do the real work.
I had already done enough soul work over the last couple of months to become familiar with the process and how it works. It was in between the persistent grips of anxiety, where the intensity had dropped to manageable levels; that I faced head-on the real reasons why I was experiencing/purging these fears.
Hours spent exploring issues of abandonment, childhood trauma, insecurities, self-worth…all boiled down to self-love. It seems so cliché to speak of it now and most of us cruise by in life assuming that we have a healthy enough dose of it to flourish. But for me, in that moment I knew that if I truly loved myself; none of this would be happening. I wouldn’t have done so much of the things I’ve done, said so much of the things I’ve said and come to a point where my mind is now screaming out in terror for my attention.
The road to recovery has been a slow and arduous one. I still experience these feelings of anxiety every now and then but only for a few seconds and never to the extent that it was for those three days. Now, when I sense the feelings arise; I stop, take a deep breath, and welcome it in with acceptance and compassion. As I promise myself to truly see what it’s trying to tell me; it always seems to instantaneously dissipate- as if to say “you got this. My job is done”
Sometimes, walking through the shadows is the only way to reach the light.