harnessing the darkest moments + capturing true freedom

In life there are some moments that have the potential to change everything.

One of my moments came when I was twenty-four, deeply depressed, highly medicated, sitting in my bathtub taking gulps of red wine between sobs of heart-breaking sorrow.

Messy.

When I was in the darkness of that moment, Rumi’s “Guest House” seemed miles away.

This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

–       Rumi

I could not find the strength within me to meet the moment with gratitude and laughter.

But,

Some part of me knew that if I let that moment pass, unchecked, that it might kill me. So I checked it.

I took stock of my life and what had brought me to that drunken moment.

I had spent the past two years in a pit of despair. It was deep and dark, and there was no obvious way out.

I was living a version of life that was not my own. It was constructed from the walls of other people’s expectations and beliefs.

I hung the well-intentioned advice of others on those walls, and I wasn’t even aware that redecorating was an option.

My existence felt meaningless. Purposeless.

Until,

In that faithful moment, I began to look back at all of the most painful moments in my life, and I began to see purpose in them. I began to connect the dots of my life, and I slowly began to see a picture. Was I creating false meaning as a desperate attempt to crawl out of the hole? Perhaps. But it worked.

It was in examining the darkest moments of my life and discovering the purpose in them that I was able to see the beauty of the light.

Once I saw the light, I doggedly took baby steps toward it.

The first baby step was to tune into the voice that was trying to lead me out of the darkness.

I now identify this as the voice of love. Your voice may be your soul, your spirit guides, your true self, your intuition. It doesn’t matter what you call it; it has the same intention: to lead you to your greatest, truest life.

Here’s what I know for sure.

Discovering purpose in my pain gave me freedom from it.

Tuning in and trusting the “voice” transformed my life at warp speed.

It was magic. It was terrifying.

Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t smooth sailing from that moment forward.

There were still battles, tears, failure, and fear.

And,

I was able to tune into the frequency that guided me through and out of those moments.

I could connect to the part of me that intrinsically knew what deeply mattered.

The voice in me knew  that I would never be trapped in the darkness again. There would always be a way out.

Capture your moment; don’t let it slip away. It has the potential to change everything.

Endless love,

 
  • Todd Lohenry

    Help me with understanding how detachment fits in, please…

  • When you’re lost in darkness it is the moment to take a look back on the past, write down your mistakes and set your personal & professional goals for the future.

  • Thanks Tufail! Connecting with the brightness of the future can be really helpful too. 

  • Ahhhhh…good question! If you mean detachment from the past, then I think it’s helpful to hold onto the lessons, experiences, and insights from the past. At the same time, I think it’s important to work on healing the emotions from the past that are leaking into the present. Hope this helps! 

  • Cathy carlgren

    Gemma,
    Thanks for sharing your story.  It reminded me of something a wise friend in Australia gave me, so I thought I would pass it on:

    Autobiography in Five Short Chapters by Portia Nelson

    I.

    I walk down the street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
    I fall in.
    I am lost… I am helpless.
    It isn’t my fault.
    It takes me forever to find a way out.

    II.

    I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I pretend I don’t see it.
    I fall in again.
    I can’t believe I am in the same place
    but, it isn’t my fault.
    It still takes a long time to get out.

    III.

    I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I see it is there.
    I still fall in… it’s a habit.
    my eyes are open
    I know where I am.
    It is my fault. (I sometimes say I see the hole and plug my nose and jump right in!)
    I get out immediately.

    IV.

    I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I walk around it.

    V.

    I walk down another street. 

    What I like about this autobiography is how it acknowledges that relapses happen (we fall down the same holes, date the same kinds of people, return to slumps, drink, smoke, or return to unhealthy habits), but we are still learning.  Just because we fall down the hole – again – doesn’t mean we are a failure.  It doesn’t mean we are useless!  It’s called learning.  It’s a process. 

    Good for you for finding your positive inner voice and having the strength to follow it.

    Cathy

  • Oh Cathy! I love this. How true. Life is a process of learning, reflecting, discovering, and adjusting course. 

    Appreciate your share. Deeply. 
    gem

  • Tania

    Love this post…my fav quote is “I hung the well-intentioned advice of others on those walls, and I wasn’t even aware that redecorating was an option.” How great to know we can “redecorate”!

  • Your timing is always accurate. Thanks Gemma