Years ago, in a Shamanic drumming circle, I slipped into a deep meditation. At some point, a booming voice asked me “where is the darkest place you’ve ever been?” And without hesitation, I responded, “my mind.”
This year has been one full of growth for me, in ways that I never knew I needed. It was the year of “exposure therapy” by way of the universe and my own sheer will. I spent most of my life terrified of anything that had to do with the body (hence why I deal with energy, spirit and mental health HA!). Illnesses, wounds, surgeries, anything body related was mortifying to me. As an empath, I would feel the experience I was watching or hearing about intensely. As a hypochondriac, the panic would set in that this could one day happen to me. It took me years of deep work to feel more confident being in a “flesh vessel” and less fixated on worries of what “could” happen.
You can imagine my surprise when the pandemic hit and the influx of thoughts and fears returned. I lost my grandmother, I was constantly worried about my family and friends contracting COVID and something going terribly wrong, death and illness surrounded me (all of us, really) all while we were isolated inside and stripped of our norms.
While I thrived in some areas of my life with our new normal, the anxiety, which led to depression, got worse.
It was during one of my many moments sensing impending doom that I remembered that profound moment during the drumming circle. The darkest place I have been is my mind.
And despite the global pandemic, the news constantly reporting on what felt like a complete crumble of our society, death, illness, pain, that fact remained my truth and my mind was still the darkest place I had ever been.
Our minds are the darkest place most of us have been (let me be clear, I’m not talking about actual trauma situations. Those are fucked up). But for many of us, the stories we create in our mind are far more gruesome, terrifying, traumatizing, petrifying than what actually ends up happening to us.
For me, it’s body stuff.
For you it might be that your partner will leave you and you’ll be single and “unloved” forever or you will get fired and end up broke and homeless on the streets,
We have entire screenplays written about what’s to come, likely not ending on a positive note, and we spend days, weeks, even years living in that story—always waiting on high alert for that moment to finally come, and it either never does or ends up being nowhere near as painful as we had psyched ourselves out to be.
I have found that for me, so much of my inner fake turmoil comes from a lack of belief in myself and my ability to handle life as it comes … that I’m not capable of dealing with the “hard” or the “scary” stuff. That my body isn’t strong enough. That my body is fragile.
When presented with an opportunity to do something that required more physical exertion than I was used to, I’d come up with excuses as to why I “couldn’t” do it. I couldn’t hike tall mountains. I couldn’t take classes that helped me get stronger. I couldn’t do those things because I wasn’t strong. I could faint. I could get sick. I could get hurt. I could struggle. I wont make it.
When I’d insert myself into these scenarios, my mind would bring me to the darkest place it could.
I’m on a mountain. Half-way up and I break my leg because it’s too rocky.
I’m on a mountain. Half-way up and I have a heart attack because my body isn’t used to being at this high of altitude and I lose oxygen and die.
I’m on a mountain and ….
This year became the year to challenge these stories. To not listen to the story that my mind was telling me, but to prove it wrong. Or who knows, maybe to see if it was telling the truth. A way to test my fears versus my intuition. But I know what the difference is. Fear sounds like fear. Fear sounds like “what ifs” on top of worry. Intuition is factual. A statement. A knowing.
I put my intentions out to the Universe. I requested the assistance of my guides and my Higher Power to help give me strength I needed to shift this for me, to help me grow and challenge these thoughts.
Of course, if there is anything I have learned about the Universe, God/Goddess, my Guides, Spirit (the whole gang), it is that you must always be careful what you wish for. Because it is not about if it will come true, but how.
And so it was.
It started with the vaccine. While I am a firm believer in science and all the magic that it is (science is badass alchemy!), I have a history of getting scared to even take a vitamin. What if it kills me? What happens if I overdose? What happens if I have some weird disorder that makes me have a bad reaction to a vitamin that I don’t know about and then my kidneys explode?
(Yes, these are the irrational stories my mind has created. Trust me, I giggle as I type them knowing how nonsensical they sound.)
So when it came time for me to get the vaccine for the VID, I started to panic. I had the same fears that many people did about the vaccines. Are they safe? Do we have enough research? But I saw those thoughts and decided to challenge them with logic and skills for anxiety. I saw those thoughts and saw my first challenge from the universe.
To do something even though I was scared.
To confront that dark story that showed me dying a day after getting the vaccine.
I had a panic attack that morning and sobbed hysterically into the arms of my now husband. The sheer terror I felt to go to that clinic and get jabbed would have had someone thinking I was about to get pushed out of a flying airplane with no parachute. But that’s how it felt. Freefalling with no guarantee where I’d land or if I’d survive.
But I went. And I did it. And I was scared. But I also lived. And that was the first in the series of fighting the horrific lies my brain had been telling me.
I was ready to rebel against the dark narrator that dwelled within.
I decided I was sick and tired of feeling weak and that I had no say in my ability to keep myself safe when it came to the crimes against women that happen every minute of every day done by mostly men. I was tired of feeling like I had to stay inside after dark or bring my husband with me everywhere so I didn’t get mugged, kidnapped, raped.
I took up martial arts classes, specifically 360 Defense which includes Krav Maga, BJJ, and Kickboxing. Classes where I’d come home with ripped open knuckles, bruises up and down my arms and legs, busted lips from getting kicked in the face, and sore muscles because I strengthened my body to go from not being able to do 1 push up to 38 in a minute. Years ago if I hit my head on a cabinet Id call my doctor scared I gave myself a brain hemorrhage, now here I was getting kicked in the fucking head and coming home to be stoked about it.
The narrator started to get quieter.
After our wedding in September, we went on a handful of mini-moons where we met up with friends to do things we enjoyed. One of which I was really looking forward to: a 4000 footer hike in the Whites. My first “big girl” hike. One that required loads of planning, pressure changes, temperature changes, and the possibility of injury.
Four days before leaving for New Hampshire, I started to get sick. It turned out to be a chest cold … a really bad chest cold. After clearing it with my friends, I decided to go anyway. While its probably not the best idea to go on a 6 hour hike in the cold when your ears are already clogged and your breathing is labored, it was one of the best decisions I made. Not only did I squash the dark narrator like a bug and go on the big, scary hike, but I did it while I was sick as a dog. And lived to tell the tale.
While my year has been filled with stories such as this, I’ll tell just one more. Just last week, I was washing a glass in my kitchen when the glass cracked open and sliced open my hand resulting in stitches. Now, years ago I had cut my hand and it took awhile to stop the bleeding. The mere thought of getting stitches made me sob uncontrollably. This time, however, I didn’t panic. I didn’t cry. I certainly didn’t die from it despite what the dark narrator has tried to convince me of. This time, I handled it differently than I ever would have expected in the past. In the way the tale of possible futures would tell.
In the past, the story would go that I had to get stitches, that they hurt like hell, got infected, I got sepsis, and I died an excruciating death in my sleep and no one would have been able to save me.
I share this story for many reasons. I find it is important that we remain authentic in this world. I meet so many healers who wear a mask that all is well and perfect in their lives. That once they aligned their chakras, or connected to spirit, or learned how to ground that all their woes went away. While some of what they share and teach is super healing and helpful, we forget to remind those we help that we don’t stop being human just because we are on a healing journey. Shitty experiences don’t just completely stop happening. Things like pandemics can still occur. Anxiety can come back. Depression can rear its ugly face. Negative self-talk can creep its way into our inner dialogue at any moment. And it doesn’t mean we have moved backward, it doesn’t mean we are no longer on a healing journey, it doesn’t mean we took a wrong turn somewhere. It means we’re fucking human and life happens.
The most important step is not whether or not it happens, but what we do about it.
Many of us have been to a really dark place. It was a huge reminder for me that the darkest place was inside my mind. And because it is within me, I have the power to change it.
I also share this for encouragement to observe the dark, negative projections your narrator might be feeding you and to know that you do not have to believe these stories as an accurate prediction of your future, but as your fear trying to protect you from things it does not need to. You can challenge these stories at any moment.
I am happy to share that I have gone many months without the daily overcast of gloom filled stories and panic. Ask the universe and you shall receive. But know that it does not come without our own efforts and willingness to work hard at it. Spirit did not magically remove the anxious or negative thoughts from my mind. They brought me to the situations. I chose to do the work when faced with them. As can you.