One of my favorite inspirational writers is Caroline Myss. Hailing from Chicago, she is my people. One of the topics she teaches is the “dark night of the soul”. She defines this as “The dark night of the soul is an inevitable experience in a person’s life. It is a passage of profound initiation, a rigorous breaking down of the forces that hold together our need for life to be reasonable, orderly, fair, and logical – everything life can never really be for most people. The dark night is a fight to the finish, a bending until there is a breakthrough. Like the addict that is broken and retrieved through treatment, brighter days are the promised end for travelers through the dark night. And all the while, your spirit speaks to you, even through the most difficult of times.” I myself have experienced this just last year. I don’t speak too much about my life but I have been called to tell you my story.
Last year beginning in February, I experienced a sudden demise in my marriage, so much so that I knew it was time to leave. It had been time for a while but we get complacent. It was going to be hard on the children, our families, each other. It was a very hard time for all of us. I decided to reach out for help to my brother and mother. This was also difficult for me since I consider myself “independent”. My brother got off work that day, took a nap and got my mom and brought drove here from Chicago. I am so blessed to have them both in my life. My mom ended up staying for 3 months and in that time she had foot surgery. I took care of her as well as kept working full time. I also had extreme anxiety that I was in denial from. I hardly slept, I cleaned obsessively, ran and hardly ate. I tried to keep it together for the kids. I also never allowed myself to cry or grieve for my divorce. My oldest daughter’s anxiety got much worse to the point she couldn’t attend school. We pulled her out and tried online school. This was a total failure. The workload and lack of supervision was not a fit for her. The younger daughter was visibly more affected by this. She would cry and be very depressed and withdrawn.
Now it’s almost summer and I reached out to my best friend since 7th grade. We had not really spoken in about a year. Not because of anything just life gets in the way. She was single and travelled a lot and I had 3 kids, a husband and worked full time. I told her what was going on in my life and she told me she was just diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. My heart stopped. She said that they were doing treatments but she was going to have to have a radical mastectomy. I decided to immediately go up to see her. I was able to spend a few days reconnecting with her and took her to the hospital for chemo. As bad as it sounds, we had an amazing time doing this together. We vowed that we would connect more, take trips and just be together to make up for lost time. I had planned to come back up after the surgery to hang out and watch Netflix with her. Fast forward a month to the weekend before the surgery. I spoke to her on Friday and told her to have someone keep me updated on Monday. Texted all weekend and no answer. I figured she was busy prepping. I finally texted her sister on Monday to see how she was. Her aunt, who is also my friend, called me back crying and told me what happened over the weekend. She was acting really weird and didn’t know who people were. They ended up taking her to the ER on Monday where they did a brain scan and saw the cancer had spread. She also had three lesions that were hemmoraging. I immediately booked a flight and left the next morning. My ex had agreed to come and stay with the kids while I was gone. When I got there, she was in ICU with my brother’s best friend and his wife who are nurses at that hospital. I had Patrick give it to me straight because the doctor’s always try to make it sound better. He said she is going into hospice and will only decline from here. I spent the next week at her bedside along with her huge family. At one point the hospital had to put up a sign to limit visitors because we had taken over the whole floor. I had to leave on Friday to come back home. I was at work on Monday when I finally got the call that she had passed. I was not able to go back for the memorial and was a little sad but I was happy for the time I had with her when she was still here.
After this happened, I began to cry. I cried all the time. At home, at work, in the shower, in the car. My kids told me they had never seen me cry before. I had spent so much of my life trying to be strong, I did not model how to be weak or real. I started having panic attacks and drinking a lot. It was the only way I could sleep. I knew I couldn’t go on like this so I got some therapy and got on anti-anxiety meds.
Here we are a year after all of this happened and I am feeling better than I have in a long time. I feel more alive and present in my body and life. I appreciate people like I never have. I am more open with my feelings and ideas. I am beginning to feel like the “real me”. No longer worried about what everybody thinks about me or my life choices. This was my dark night and I am on the other side. This virus quarantine would have had me super worried about not working and what if I get it, but I am calm. I am enjoying this time with my family and using it to reach out to you on a more personal level. We all will go through traumatic times in our lives. We can choose to be broken by it or strengthened by it. I choose the latter.
Thank you for reading this and I hope this helps you in this time of crisis.