The Dark Night of the Soul
Updated: Oct 3, 2019
Good morning people and welcome to another blog post. It’s been a few days since I have written anything on here. I’ve been busy with my book and with being sick.
Let me explain!
So, as I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I am writing a book. So, if I am truly writing a book, I need to do some writing! That is why I got to the business of writing this week and I wrote an important chapter in my book. It’s the first draft so I’ll need to work on it a bit, but the story is there in black and white. It’s no longer in my head, it’s now in black and white. I have four chapters of the book now. It is coming along.
However, the majority of my week was spent on something different. It was spent battling this long standing affliction of mine, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Sometimes in my life, I feel well and I can get on with my life, but then there are times when I cannot lift my head off the pillow because something I ate had disagreed with me and a migraine has come on or my digestive system is so inflamed every inch of my body hurts.
Those days are hard. They are getting harder because as I get older I resent more and more the time and energy I have to spend on my affliction. The other thing is that it is a chronic disease, so it never goes away. When I first got diagnosed people were very sympathetic and everyone was asking how I was feeling and if I was feeling any better. Now, we are eighteen years down the line people! Everyone has moved on and now when I mention I am sick people just take it for granted I’ve managed to deal with it in some way and the pain must be less because it’s been eighteen years now. I must be used to it or I’ve got some sort of a handle on it by now.
The truth is, this affliction keeps changing. Just when you think you understand it, it changes. My body gets used to the new treatment and it manages to make itself sick again. Sometimes, I think I am going out of my mind or that my mind is playing tricks on me. Maybe it is all psycho-somatic as my father told me when I was 21 years old. I am now 45 years old. I’ve been sick for more than half my life. The doctors do not really know how to help me. There are medicines that ease things but they have side effects too. I’ve chosen to remain medicine free as much as I can and opt for the healthy approach. However, on days like I have described above I dose myself up with anadin, nothing stronger because it makes things worse.
I don't believe it is psycho-somatic but let me be the devil's advocate for a minute and say that even if my father was right all those years ago and I am, somehow, manifesting this pain subconsciously, it doesn't matter. At the end of the day, I am still feeling it. It still forces me to the bed and to delay my life for days on end. If this is true and it is psycho-somatic, could someone tell me how to get my mind to stop playing tricks? I will do anything at this stage!
So, again this week, I had to say to my kids, guys take it easy this week on Mam as she’s not feeling well. The house is untidy and the dinners are thrown together and unhealthy. Trying to get to the shops when Fabio is away with work is hard. So, I make do with what is in the house.
Do not get me wrong, my kids have a good life. They are not sad every day because their mam is sick. On the contrary, they are happy boys and full of energy. They’ve heard all my explanations before and they don’t really take any notice anymore. I was in bed yesterday from 2pm until 6pm and my boys didn’t even blink. Mam’s not well. They have heard it all their lives and it’s their normal. I had to take them to school early this morning and they had to wait outside the school for thirty minutes in December so that I could get to a clinic for more tests. Tests that will probably show up nothing but that will definitely cost a lot of money.
I know that this blog post sounds negative, that’s because it is. On the outside, I always try to smile and not let people know the pain I am in because it puts everyone in an awkward situation. I don’t tell my family because they just worry. The only person that knows how much pain I have gone through over the years is Fabio. He is insisting I do more tests as he is convinced medicine can get to the bottom of my problems. He also has a lot more trust in the Italian health system than he does in the Irish one at the moment. So here I am. Doing more tests with 18 years of sickness under my belt. I’m hoping they can take away the pain but let’s see. I’m a sceptic I’m afraid.
It’s not really my illness that I wanted to talk about in this post, however, it’s rather the metaphysical journey I am on at the moment. I am not sure whether my illness triggered this journey or whether this journey is about something deeper in me. I’ve been listening a lot to mental sages like Ekhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra and Michael Beckwith. They talk about the ‘Dark night of the soul’. This idea caught my attention because it seemed to reflect what I am currently going through. It’s a process whereby you lose your connection to your existing identity, but you don’t yet have a new identity to hold on to. Everything that seemed relevant and worthy to you becomes unimportant. I am not talking about relationships here. My family are still my world. I am rather talking about your ‘raison d’etre’ or what you understood about this world to be true. This ‘truth’ has suddenly shown itself to be superficial or unimportant to you.
I always identified myself as someone who was reasonably intelligent and was occupied in her life with teaching, research and learning. My subject matter of choice was management and information systems. I used to find the subject fascinating and I would read books and books and synthesise what I had read and write up literature reviews and develop hypotheses and test them and advance the research field in Information Systems a fraction forward. I spent from 2002 until 2018 doing this and being reasonably successful at it. I say reasonably because I was always employed and made quite good money in those years.
I remember making a pact with God. I remember saying to him, just let me get my PhD. That’s all I want. Then I’ll do your bidding. Just help me get over this hurdle of a PhD. Then I’ll feel whole. Then I’ll feel like I deserve to be where I am in my life. I’ll have proved to everyone that I am intelligent and I deserve to be getting all that God has blessed me with in this life. Then I can relax. When I got the PhD in 2014, I didn't turn myself over to God as I had promised. I tried to fob my promise off and explain it away saying I needed to make money for my kids, for their future etc etc. However, when I tried to get an academic position, it didn’t happen. I got short-term contracts, but the permanent role never came. I did something like 13 interviews for lecturing and researcher positions over four years. By 2018, I was out of the loop. This year I lost connection with academia when my employment contracts (both of them) were cancelled.
Is this God’s way of saying, now I’ve come to collect on our bargain? I’m no longer in academia. The funny thing is though. I no longer WANT to be either. Did I do this subconsciously or was the hand of God at play? Maybe both? So, that part of my life is over. I know that. I am just not sure where I go from here.
The first thing I did this morning was ask God for help. I woke up with pain all over my body and there was a dull ache in my head (like a bad hangover except I stopped drinking years ago). I lay in bed and asked him what he wanted from me. I asked him to show me my path. I realise now that he will answer me in his time, not mine. So, I have to keep myself open to him so that I am ready when he calls. In order to keep myself open, I need to keep my vibration high. That is what I am struggling with because the physical pain is putting me in bad form. I’m snapping and impatient. This is my challenge now and I hope I am up for it.
So, like I said above, I think I am in what Ekhart Tolle and Michael Beckwith call the ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ as I truly feel lost spiritually. It’s not depression as I still enjoy meeting and chatting with people and I’m interested in life. My life is moving on, when I feel well. My kids are going to school and my husband is working hard and is totally dedicated to his work and family. I am in very comfortable circumstances financially. Thank God I am married to a man who seems much surer of himself and why he is here than me. He is the bread winner and he is a great provider. For that, I will be eternally grateful. I am so grateful that I have the space to explore where I am at right now without financial worries pressing down on me.
I don’t know how to finish this blog post. I suppose all I can do is ask if anyone of you are experiencing anything like what I have explained here, can you get in touch? Maybe we can move forward together or just give each other strength as we move through our lives separately but connected.
Thank you for reading this post and wherever you are in the world I wish you love, health and happiness.
Namaste my people