How I Turned My Dark Night of the Soul into The Happiest Days of My Life
It was a dark and stormy night.
It was a dark and lonely night.
Once again, I was plastered to my sofa while crying to my mother over the phone about love gone wrong and life gone astray.
Once again, I found myself sliding down a slippery slope to complete and utter despair.
Once again, I felt as though I was trapped in a scene from a Bridget Jones movie and couldn’t get out.
And I was terribly unhappy.
At 40, my life had not quite turned out as planned. The “happily ever after” tale that I wholeheartedly embraced since childhood had been officially debunked. Et tu, Disney.
In my “unhappily ever after” reality, I felt continually beaten down by life through betrayal, divorce, illness, the financial downturn of 2008, the death of a beloved family member, the passing of my little dog, Internet dating hell, and so on, and so on, and so on.
My once interesting, spicy life decayed into a bland, mushy rut. Each day I robotically moved through same old same old motions. I got up much too early in the morning, schlepped to my corporate cubicle job, performed monotonous monkey work, drove home, ate the same old same old dinner (frozen chicken fingers and frozen mixed veggies — oh, the horror!), plopped myself on the sofa, whined to my mother, and numbed myself with the latest episode of The Real Housewives.
I wanted so badly for my life to change.
Previously, I had been the poster child for picking myself up, dusting myself off and starting all over again, but this was getting ridiculous. Enough with the life lessons already! I was exhausted. I questioned if I had the strength to climb back up again.
And then, just as Disney promised, my prince swooped and in rescued me. We lived happily ever after. The End.
This is what happens in real life, boys and girls:
“You are no longer waiting for someone else to help you out; you are not expecting to be handed something on a plate. You are your own rescue.”
~ Bear Grylls
The truth really shall set you free.
So there I was. A snively, snotty heap of a hot mess on the sofa.
I assure you that I did not look as cute as Renee Zellweger in the video above.
And then a glimmer of inspirational light appeared in the darkness, as it always seems to do.
It came from a fellow author, Elizabeth Gilbert, who spoke about creativity, turning 40, and other nuggets of profound wisdom that I can’t quite recall because now I’m 46 and my short term memory has gone to hell.
I stopped crying, pulled myself up from the fetal position, and followed the glimmer of light.
I walked over to my journal. I started writing.
I realized that if I was tired and frustrated with the same old same old, then I needed to try something different new different new.
I gave myself permission to dream.
About a new beginning.
About a more interesting and creative existence.
About a life that scintillated my soul.
I designed a plan to hoist myself out of the rut and create my own happily ever after. I vowed to take action on my plan. Daily.
I swooped in and rescued myself. In doing so, I turned my dark night of the soul into some of the happiest days of my life.
With a little help from my friends and family, of course.
To be continued…
I’m going to share my happiness action plan with you. It worked for me. And it will work for you, too.^
How do I know it will work for you? The action plan is based on research. Research field-tested not only by me, a humble teacher and writer prone to melancholy, but actual scientists. These real life Prince (and Princess) Charmings have discovered ways to help us rescue ourselves. *swoon*
And because most of us are still brainwashed by Disney and Hollywood (thank you, Nicholas Sparks et al) to go gaga over a fairy tale romance…
Tomorrow I will also tell you the story of once upon a time when I fell in love with an Italian under the Tuscan sun during my happiest year.
Or as I prefer to say…
Have you ever had a dark night of the soul? What brought you back to the light?
Please share your experience in the comments over here.
^Unless you’re a statistical outlier. To spell it out even further, individual results vary. I believe I have to say something to that effect to legally cover my tushie.
This article first appeared over at The Late Bloomer Revolution. It’s really colorful and interesting over there. You’re welcome to stop by any time.
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