I’ve been going through my dark night of the soul for over a year now, and it’s been the most challenging, beautiful, painful phase of my life.
The dark night of the soul is defined as a spiritual journey that takes you along an emotional roller coaster, shaking everything you thought to be true and bringing you face to face with your deepest fears and wounds.
Before it all started, I was in a state of spiritual bliss for several months. I felt connected to nature and to the Universe like never before. I could feel pure love for every tree, every human, every being, every living organism. I could see the magic in everything, just like every child does.
Then, little by little, my reality started to crumble. I started to see my conditioning. I started to get in touch with trauma I wasn’t even aware of. And it hurt — a lot. It still does.
Emotions I had suppressed for years were suddenly resurfacing all at once, leaving me completely lost and overwhelmed. It was as if the Universe was telling me “now that you know what real connection feels like, it’s time to make you grow and teach you some lessons”.
I have indeed learned a lot, and I want to share some of the lessons with you.
1. Suffering is necessary.
A dark night of the soul challenges every aspect of your being. It destroys your reality to a point where you don’t even know if your healing journey is worth all the pain that’s coming up to the surface.
But guess what? That’s exactly what you need. We need to feel pain to transform ourselves. The biggest transformations don’t take place when we simply tell ourselves we have to change; they take place when our life circumstances force us to self-reflect and change our course of action.
“In the West, we generally reject suffering. We see it as an unwelcome interruption of our pursuit of happiness. So we fight it, repress it, medicate it, or search for quick-fix solutions to get rid of it. In some cultures, especially in the East, suffering is acknowledged for the important role it plays in people’s lives, in the meandering path toward enlightenment.”
Tal Ben-Shahar, in The Role of Suffering
2. Our loved ones can be the most resistant to our growth.
This one is probably the hardest lesson to accept. When you’re growing, your family and friends will, often unintentionally, try to keep you the same instead of supporting your growth.
They’ll give you feedback that reinforces unhealthy patterns, they’ll act like you’re not changing for the better and they’ll probably make you feel guilty for finally being able to say “enough is enough” and staying true to yourself.
The reason why our loved ones are the most resistant to our growth is because they feel that they’re going to lose us if we keep growing. Our stagnation makes them feel comfortable; but we’re not here to stay stagnant, we’re here to evolve.
And this doesn’t mean we’re better than them. It simply means we’re on different paths.
3. Nobody knows us better than we know ourselves.
My dark night of the soul has taught me that no one has the right to tell me how to think, how to feel, what I should or shouldn’t do, or what’s better for my life. Absolutely no one.
As a child, I was not taught to search for validation inside myself. I was intrinsically trained to search outside myself for my choices; not to build my own identity and listen to my intuition.
I have lived many years in fear of being judged, rejected and abandoned. I have spent most of my life putting others’ needs first and letting their opinions dictate my truth. In fact, I was so skilled at it that I didn’t even know what I wanted or who I was.
That phase is over. Which brings me to my next point…
4. The real strength lies in our ability to be with ourselves.
Most of us spend our lives running away from ourselves. We can’t stand the idea of being alone with our own thoughts and emotions, so we do whatever it takes to keep ourselves busy.
My dark night of the soul started a few months before lock-down kicked in. I was gradually becoming aware of some wounds and emotional patterns, which made me feel a deep need to be alone and process everything I was feeling.
Then, I slowly came to the realization that, no matter how strong and accomplished I appeared, I never really loved myself.
Now, after almost a year of continuous healing and self-reflection, I know that the most important relationship in my life is with myself.
Nothing can ever replace our ability to just be, and to love ourselves so deeply that we no longer deny the most painful parts of our existence.
5. There’s always a hidden meaning that’s serving our own evolution.
Although this past year has been incredibly difficult, I know I needed to go through this process in order to reconnect with my true self.
I believe in the mystical forces of the Universe. I believe that if we learn to be quiet, to sit still and simply listen to our inner voices, there’s always a message or a meaning; a whisper guiding us and supporting our growth.
No matter how incomprehensible our experience may be, no matter how desperate and lonely we may feel, there’s always a lesson that we’ll later integrate into our lives. When the storm has passed and we’re finally able to distance ourselves, that’s when we realize how it has served us.
The Universe works in mysterious ways.
It’s okay to grieve the person you thought you were at the surface of everything. It’s okay to cry and to feel anger for having lost so many years playing a role instead of staying true to yourself.
But I promise you those years were not lost. They’ve taught you compassion, wisdom, patience and gratitude. They’ve given you the ability to understand yourself and the world.
My dark night of the soul is not over yet, and I don’t know when it will be. But I do know that, even though I’ve lost my (false) sense of security and direction, I’ve never felt so grounded and free.