Moving Through the Darkness

It's been a couple of months since I journaled here. Since January – so two, to be exact. It's not like me to skip out after committing to share something on a monthly basis. And in the past, I would have been hard on myself about this lapse. I'd have gone into the darkness of the mind that calls out failure, that draws its strength from lack. The voice that says, "you're not doing enough"...or worse, "you're not enough.".


But these past few months have been an incredible time of transformation for me. It hasn't all be pretty. Let's get that out in the open. Transformation is often thought of as a time of wondrous alchemy, I find. Yet the past few months have included a lot of confusion, fear, uncertainty, and questioning to the extent of deep inner turmoil. They included a three-year relationship with someone I love in ways I can't describe coming to an end. They included moving into a new space on my own, fully, for the first time. They also included Beyond My Battle officially becoming a nonprofit organization – the most exciting news of my life, but also the most overwhelming new sense of responsibility. 


It seems like a lot of times we speak of, or hear about, transformation as sparkly and new. But during this time I've found that we have to go through some really crappy lows in order to come out the other side. That other side being a more awakened version of ourself – a version that's closer to our Truth than who we were before. There were weeks, even months, recently where I didn't want to do anything productive. I was going through such a transition that it was confusing. It hurt both mentally and physically because up felt like down, and right felt like left.


I recently heard someone refer to this as the "dark night of the soul". While it's much longer than a single night, this process of awakening (and it's not a one-time process, because we're always changing, so it's more like a shift into a slightly more awakened version of our Self) doesn't actually feel very zen, or very good, at all. Our former identity begins to fall away if we enter into this shift, and that's an uncomfortable feeling because underneath that shell we are assailed by our dark inner truths. We are forced to address these truths, or else not grow. And that's why the identity must fall away... to confront, and ultimately move through, the darkness so that we can begin to build up a new, stronger, foundation. Just this past weekend, actually, I went to see one of my favorite musicians, Trevor Hall and he happened to play a song called "You can't rush your healing." where the following line within the song is: "darkness has its teachings." 


There were multiple times in the past two months were I began to rag on myself for not writing. But I knew I was working on something internally that was very necessary, and that it would come into word-form at some point. My dark night of the soul has been to address my inner tug-of-war between independence and security; the battle of doing things for myself vs. wanting someone to be there to help me – a classic struggle for someone with a degenerative disease who is losing autonomy. I knew this was my calling to do the work because I've started to move through this inner conflict before, but I guess I hadn't moved through it quite enough yet, and that's why it needed to resurface.


So in these times where I'd hear that "not good enough / not doing enough" voice, I'd quiet her down and tend to my journey. If writing didn't call to me that day (or that month) I accepted it. If indulging in a TV show felt healing, I did it. If crying had to happen, I was present with the tears... likewise, if I laughed myself silly, I enjoyed it and cataloged it in my mind.


My last entry on self-love hinted at my knowing that some things had to change. I hadn't been honoring myself or allowing myself to cultivate self-worth. It's a transformation that is happening and will continue to happen because the only constant in this life is change. We can always count on change – the cycle of the seasons, the aging of our physical bodies, our interests evolving, even the growth or loss of love. And like the seasons, there is coldness to prepare for warmth. There will continue to be downs and ups, but if we can commit to looking the darkness in the eyes each time, moving through it to reach a greater sense of love and light, then I say to you, "it's worth it".

Martel Catalano