“The problem is this: when, despite all my best efforts, the lights have gone off in my life, plunging me into the kind of darkness that turns my knees to water, I have not died. The monsters have not dragged me out of bed and taken me back to their lair. Instead I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.” – Barbara Brown Taylor, Learning to Walk in the Dark
When a traumatic life experience occurs, people seem to do one of two things. Either throw themselves into life and act like it didn’t happen or retreat from the world and explore the inner turmoil in their mind.
I’m a retreater.
If you know me, that might surprise you. People meet me and think I’m incredibly extroverted. I’m a public relations person by trade. Always talking with others, connecting colleagues around the world, spending time on social media, organising conferences and being a general communications expert. That translates on a personal level to being the parent-teacher association president, the school board chair, on the executive for a local association, etc etc.
But those who know me best, know I have an introverted side that takes over, especially when life gets rough or needs contemplation. So this past year has been a serious time for quiet. In fact, it’s been the darkest period of my life.
We are brought up to be scared of the dark or fear what lurks there. I actually think we learn the most in our darkest times of our life. Yes, it can be scary to face your fears but it can be oh so worth it.
A very dear friend saw me as I was teetering on the edge of the abyss into my darkness and recommended Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, Learning to Walk in the Dark. For me, it arrived from Amazon on exactly the right day (Divine timing, if I’ve ever seen it!) and I immersed myself in it. This book connected with me on so many levels and made me acknowledge that I can’t truly appreciate the times when I am in the light – when life is good – if I don’t also embrace the dark when it descends.
So I embraced the dark. And what I found there wasn’t scary at all once I learned to sit with it, to acknowledge it and I’ve even made friends with it. In fact, in a strange way, I enjoyed the process. I enjoyed allowing myself the time and space to cry, to laugh, to feel. I enjoyed learning about myself – my true self. And I’m now on a path to a brighter tomorrow.