This is a blog I wrote heading in to my 22nd birthday of addiction recovery. I felt reticent about posting it but today I am letting it out into the open air of blogsville to breathe:
Today I am full of an immense feeling of gratitude. I love these kind of days. In six days time it will be my 22nd birthday of sobriety. On 6 of 3December 1993, I entered the rooms of AA and I learned that I could stop drinking a day a time.
It may seem simple but it had just not occurred to me to not take the first drink. Wasn’t the problem that I couldn’t just stop at 4 or 5? In the rooms of AA I learned that the first drink set up a compulsion over which I was powerless. I was not in a position to argue since I was SICK TO DEATH of they way I was feeling in being on the roller coaster of binge drinking that seemed to be like a run away train that would destroy anything good in my path. That December I stopped drinking alcohol and a short while later I stopped smoking too. I cannot tell you the happiness that followed for me.
It was not an easy time. I had lost a job, I was newly married and I found I was not able to drink but at the same time I had the support of a good man who loved me and wanted to move forward in to a healthy life with me. When I was shown that I was heading down a self destructive pathway that could ultimately hurt both of us I decided I had to do something. Luckily from my first meeting I got sobriety and I haven’t drunk since.
Ten years into recovery I must say I was under the influence of my own inner script of powerless hopelessness even without a drink in me because all my past pain and grief that had not been dealt with which was rising up in me to be known. It pulled me inwards and downwards and backwards. I pulled the pin on my life attempt to move overseas and ground into a new life. I cane back to Australia.
After much toing and froing after a few years of returning “home” my marriage ended. Transiting Uranus which is natally in my first house was opposing itself and transiting the seventh house of relationships. I felt the urge of a caterpillar spiralling about inside a cocoon bursting out but it was a bursting into a dark place.
I went into my cocoon at that time. I was for me, the dark night of the soul that is spoken of in spiritual circles. It was a journey down, a descent into my body from which I had for so many years and after so much trauma attempted to take flight, a descent into grief, into wracking painful body symptoms of being crushed, breathless, struggling to breath, feeling like a weight was on me, drowning, coughing up blood and phlegm, being shaken by paroxysms of muscular and nervous tension, pushing and pulling over which I had not much conscious control (or so it seemed to me, now I see the journey to heal was about seeing I did play a part in how how things turned). It was like being buffeted about in wild seas, learning to ride the wave and being tumbled under at times, dumped, beached, coughing up sea foam, a twin dance of action and surrender.
Really this DNOTS (dark night of the soul) was and is indescribable. Only if you have been through it will you know. And while in it you don’t know how long it will last, if it will ever end and if you will come out alive, which on some level you don’t as you come out of it transformed on some level, while simultaneously also stripped back to the essence of who you really were that got covered over by layers and layers of soot and conditioning over many years.
Its not nice having the skin stripped off you. You feel raw and exposed. At times you feeling like am amorphous omeba who does not know who or what it is for. You look around and everything you thought you knew, trusted or defined you no longer makes sense and there is a terrible feeling that you are dead and there is no energy left to keep living and yet still from somewhere comes the desire to live anyway. Often only after enduring the darkest of dark moments where you have had to make the perilous journey back to meet the child, adolescent and young adult you were, to bear witness to the traumas, see your powerlessness and unconsciousness, feel and allow to move through you those overpowering (at times) emotions of anger and grief and when you do find the lighter ones hidden inside that got covered over love, enthusiasm, joy.
In a way its almost impossible to communicate about the DNOTS…. but I try anyway. I get upset when I see people going through it being treated like they are mad.. as one of my favourite spiritual writers had said sometimes on the spiritual path you have to go mad in order to transform into the one you were always meant to be, outside of what was demanded of you by people who didn’t have a clue and led you to feel you don’t either.
In the end its a great paradox and like all paradoxes, difficult to locate and name, and yet perhaps due to the fact that Uranus soon will station forward and finally pull free of its long drawn out square to Pluto it is incumbent on me to try. For Uranus awakens that which Pluto transforms through these kind of Dark Night Experiences and those who undergo them, must speak to help others to know there is a light the other side of the Dark Night if you trust, surrender and weather the storm.
Wow where did all that come from in a blog that started with a feeling of immense gratitude? Well my gratitude is that all through this Dark NIght something has sustained me. At moments of most intense suicidal feeling I have found somewhere within the will to keep living, but only when I have been vulnerable enough to surrender to and articulate the truth I was feeling, dark and scary and strange as it seemed to myself and others. I’ve been misjudged, I’ve been rejected, called names, subject to dismissive and minimising comments and these reactions hurt me but in the end I was able to bear them when I found the love for myself to not be crippled by them and not to take them on. They were, in the end the a reflection of the level of consciousness of those who spoke them and came out of fear, perhaps at seeing me have to struggle. I understand that now.
Recovery has shown me that I have to be willing to look death, pain and suffering in the face and know truly that none of these things can really destroy my essence. Recovery has shown me that only surrender to a deeper will and wisdom ever really helps, for to choose not to surrender, to choose not to die every day means we never truly live and can never truly be reborn, refashioned, made new through acceptance of our all too human imperfection.
There is enormous love there hidden deep which we find when we are willing to be in the dark and face our past pain, unconsciousness and despair to find the truth that we did the best we could. Despite all of this pain and suffering it is a wonderful world, full too of good things. A kindness that comes out of nowhere, acceptance shown to us when we truly unmask and find our spiritual family, and the love we feel when through loving and accepting ourselves in all our wounded and hurting places we emerge, from out of the dark night into the day of light.