I spent this afternoon in the company of my ex-husband and our two daughters more than 300 feet beneath the earth’s surface. To some, this may sound like the storyline for a horror film or a dysfunctional family comedy, but to me, it was a much-needed afternoon spent with loved ones (yes, my ex-husband still is considered a loved one) far from the rest of the world. Even though this escape lasted only a couple of hours, it was time well spent, and it helped me to make better sense of the swirling thoughts and feelings in my head and in my heart today.
As I stood with the earth both beneath my feet and over my head and took in the rock formations that had been carved out of the earth over a 5,000 year span, I suddenly felt so very small in the world, in both size and importance. I could not wrap my brain around the fact that I stood in the same spot that prehistoric dwellers, early explorers, and miners of centuries gone by had also stood, and the cave felt like a sacred sanctuary. At one point, the tour guide turned off all of the lights that illuminated the cave, and we were enveloped in the darkest dark I have ever experienced. I put my hand in front of my face and still only saw darkness. It was in that moment, though, that I saw the light.
As we hiked in the cave today, I carried with me the taunting words that my negative mind unleashes when I am feeling anxious, sad, worried, or any other feeling that causes me discomfort. For some reason, when I feel hurt by circumstances or another person, I end up hurting myself further with the negative self-talk that I engage in and with the feelings I wallow in, which is exhausting on every level, yet it is my go to form of self-destruction. As I stood in the darkness and the silence, I felt a tear roll down my cheek, and the only thing I could feel was my daughter’s hand in mine. In those moments of darkness, I thought to myself, prayed, or whatever you want to call it, that I wanted the darkness that had descended upon me to help me, not hurt me, which is something that my friend and mentor, Trude, had reminded me of this morning that experiences are meant to do. That plaintive prayer or request had barely formed in my own mind, when the cave was once again bathed in soft light. As my eyes readjusted, I looked around and saw that everything was right where it was when the lights went out minutes earlier. The surroundings and the people had not changed, but my ability to see them had.
I have been thinking about this experience ever since we re-emerged from the depths of the earth, and I suspect that I will continue to ponder it as time goes by. It reminded me how when I give away my power over my emotional, physical, spiritual, and/or mental well-being to a person or a situation, I submerge myself in darkness, as I extinguish my own light. It is a choice that I make, which in my case, is somewhat like a knee-jerk reaction. While I have made progress in facing and dealing with the anxiety and depression that make up my personal darkness, I still have more work to do to safeguard and stoke the light within me. I cannot control people or circumstances, but I can control and change my perception and reaction to the people and situations I encounter. There is much to be learned in the darkness, and for me, that’s the light at the end of the tunnel.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story