I was so hypnotized by what was happening in front of me, I barely noticed I was completely drenched. As the raindrops kissed the pond one by one, they reverberated and disappeared. It was ever so subtle, but all at once their vibrations transcended onto me. My body lit up with a stroke of electricity, and replicated what I was witnessing before me.
It was magic.
In that moment I saw myself reflected back in nature. I was part of this world–a living, breathing creature, made up of the very same cells and elements as everything around me. Why hadn’t I made this connection sooner? It was like a light turned on inside of me. I was finally waking up.
I spent a good portion of my life in a cloud of darkness, completely unaware of my patterns and the ways in which I perpetuated my own pain and projected it onto others. I felt sorry for myself and played that damn victim card every chance I could. My mind was a toxic hellhole, chocked full of insecurities and blame and shame and anger and sadness and all of the bullshit stories that I kept retelling myself. I believed that it was everyone else’s fault I was suffering and it was someone else’s duty to pull me out of it. It was like I was waiting for someone armed with band-aids and superglue to show up and fix a lifetime’s worth of destruction.
I was hurting. Deeply. The problem was, I let myself get stuck in my own suffering. I actually became comfortable there. At times this bordered on a sort of acceptance–I believed this was just the way I was, and the way I’d probably always be. To quote a friend, I was “dark.” I refused to believe that maybe I had the power to snap out of it.
I did a lot of things I wasn’t so proud of–I was blind to the fact that I was acting out of my own pain. I was miserable and chose to numb my feelings instead of doing something about them. This only aggravated and amplified the pain and made it increasingly harder to ignore.
I wasted all my efforts trying to prove I was good enough to people who most likely didn’t give a shit, and to be accepted by people who wanted nothing to do with me. I thought if they loved me, than surely it meant I was good. I so desperately wanted that validation, but no matter what anyone else said or did to give it to me, I couldn’t actually believe it.
The truth was it was never enough, because I didn’t believe I was enough.
About 3 years ago, I hit my emotional “bottom.” Everything came bubbling to the surface. Thanks to the relationship I was in at the time, a mirror had finally been held up to me. I could see all my triggers and patterns. The big issues were too scary to talk about–so the little things suddenly became the big things disguised in miniature clothing. Everything came back to this need to feel like I was enough. I managed to fool myself into believing that the key was getting someone else to give me the love I couldn’t give myself. But I was wrong and stuck in a seemingly never-ending cycle. It became abundantly clear that I had to get out of this purgatory, and fast. I was finally ready to cut the shit and get to work on myself.
I realize now, this was a gift.
A dear friend told me about a Vipassana meditation retreat that, at the time, I felt desperate enough to seriously consider. It wasn’t totally in my wheelhouse to do such a thing, but I was open to it. The more I looked into it, the more terrified I became. It was exactly what I needed.
So, the girl who had never spent so much as a minute of her life meditating signed up to spend over 12 hours a day sitting in silence, for 10 days straight. I knew in order to quiet my wild beast of a mind I had to rid myself of all the distractions of daily life and all my numbing tactics. From there I could finally begin to untangle that massive fucking knot inside of me.
I’m not gonna lie, that shit was hard. Not only is it insanely difficult to try to quiet your mind for any period of time, it’s also physically painful to sit in the same position for that long. And despite what everyone thinks, the no talking bit was actually the easiest part.
Spending 10 days in my own mind was the closest thing to hell I’ve ever experienced, and it was absolutely worth it.
Through the process of Vipassana meditation you begin to notice the subtlest of sensations in your body and to tune into a current racing through each part of your being. When you get to this point, it’s a pretty incredible feeling–similar to the sensation you get when someone braids your hair or runs their fingers across your back. But the point is not to crave the pleasant feelings, and not to wish the pain away when that kicks in either. No pain or pleasure lasts forever and there in lies the key–nothing is permanent, “Anicca.” When you stay equanimous with these feelings and just observe them as they are, the defilements in your mind start to dissolve layer by layer until the root of the problem begins to…disappear.
And that’s where the magic is at.
As part of our practice, three times a day we were to sit in the hall and meditate for an hour straight without moving an inch, itching a scratch or opening our eyes. It sucked.
In one particular sitting, a wave of nostalgia came over me and I started recalling every home in which I’d ever lived, in sequence (I moved a lot growing up). I retraced the streets where I rode my bike, the fields where I played soccer, my friends house’s, the schools I attended, and the route my mom took to get to my dad’s… finally landing at my dad’s house.
At this point I hadn’t spoken to my father in roughly 10 years, much less been back to his house. We had no relationship whatsoever, and I admittedly was fine with never speaking to him again. But at that moment something triggered me and I remembered his exact address and could recite his phone number as if I was my 10-year-old self again. After all this time, I couldn’t believe that bit of information was still buried within my subconscious. Cue the tears.
I decided in that moment, that I had to go back to my hometown (I hadn’t been in over 7 years) to see my father and his side of the family. I needed to finally forgive him and get some closure on a past that had haunted me, albeit unconsciously, for far too long. Something massive shifted in me that day, and I knew it. It was like suddenly I’d been presented with the key to all my suffering. This was just the beginning.
In the year after my retreat, everything I knew of my life pretty much went to shit–my job, my relationship, my apartment. But somehow I was alright. I learned to treat myself with compassion instead of the mental beat down I was used to. I wasn’t perfect at it, but I kept trying. I made healthy changes to my lifestyle and realized the impact these had on my overall well being, I felt in control of my life again. I was finally learning to see my mind, body and soul as one connected unit, and from there things just started to click.
I was making better choices and becoming a more conscious human overall. But my life didn’t simply become easier because of all of this. I just learned to respond to my circumstances differently by being more mindful and present. I even found the most challenging situations to be the most liberating at times–they helped me make hard decisions and let go of the people and things that no longer served me on my path. By doing this, I in turn made space for a lot of really incredible people and opportunities–stuff I could never have previously imagined. I learned to let go and go with the flow of the universe, and I’ve never been happier.
Undoubtedly, the path to self-love and healing takes a lot of hard work and a desire to make a change. There is no quick fix and no perfection in this game–just a lot of practice and patience. It is a journey, and a life-long one at that. But I promise it is the best gift you will ever give yourself. Once you find that light inside of you, it’s nearly impossible to lose sight of it. And once you start to fill your own little love tank, you can truly start sharing that love with other people and the rest of the world. That’s powerful stuff.
So I encourage you to get to know your pain–sit with it, listen to it, observe it. It has something to teach you when you’re ready to listen and I guarantee that’s where the good stuff is hiding. Start to heal those wounds. I promise it’s possible. I promise it’s worth it.
Your darkness is a gift.
Much love and light ❤