“Everything I’ve ever let go of has claw marks in it.” -David Foster Wallace
Warning, my loves: this is a deep share.
I have been considering this post for awhile. I have been considering not posting it at all. But something nudged me inside and said, “You aren’t the only one. You don’t know who needs this.”
And so, here it is. A story.
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, I was a broken, sad, chronically depressed soul. So depressed, in fact, that I (for a brief, fleeting moment) considered what it would be like for everyone around me if I just didn’t exist anymore.
It was October, simultaneously the saddest and most beautiful month of the year. I was experiencing recurring long, dark nights of the soul, night after night, week after week. There were explanations to my best friend Michael about how those marks got on my arms. There were 3:00 AM phone calls to my other best friend Jessica, who would patiently listen to my sobbing. Who would pound my door down the following day because I wouldn’t answer anyone’s calls or texts. Who finally one morning forced me into her car and drove me to the nearest mental health facility so I could be evaluated to prevent any chance of further self-harm.
Yes. That was me. Once upon a time.
However. There are very, very important lessons hidden between the pages of sorrow, my dear goddesses. And sometimes it takes the wisdom of soul friends to show you what they are.
There is a moment I recall more often than any other when I think about this sad and lonely time.
I was exhausted. I was tired of being strong, tired of finding myself in the same story of endings over and over again.
And I had come to believe that I wasn’t even good for my children anymore. That I had nothing to offer them.
Nothing to offer them.
I actually said this to myself.
And then, once, I said it out loud. Through tears and desolation, I admitted this to one of my closest and wisest friends.
He listened patiently while I cried, then spoke words that saved me.
He said, “Do you think your children will have an easy life? Do you think everything will always come easily to them?”
I paused. Thought for a moment. “No,” I replied.
“Do you think when things get really hard, they will go to their dad for advice? Their dad, who has never experienced this rock-bottom desperation? Who isn’t as emotionally intuitive as you are? Who never needed to learn how to admit to himself that things were beyond his control and how to ask for help?”
I paused again. “No,” I replied again.
“This is your gift to them. This is the purpose, the meaning to your suffering. You think, right now, that you have nothing to offer them. But someday, this experience – your advice, your loving guidance, your understanding of isolation and sadness and how to survive the most devastating times of your life, will be the greatest thing anyone could offer them.”
And that, my dear ones, is what saved me.
It’s still something I think about regularly. Cataloguing my lessons in difficulty as a sort of compendium of wisdom to hand off to my children. Turning my pain into power so that I can show them how to say “Eff You” to a world that isn’t always fair.
Falling down. And getting up.
Healing. Loving. Winning.
So this is my nugget of wisdom to you, my sisters. When sorrow creeps into your bedchambers and infuses you with doubt and fear, remember this: the darkest nights produce the brightest stars.
What you have to offer is exactly what the world needs right now.
You are a warrior goddess. Let’s go show them how it’s done.
In love and solidarity,