Hello? Is anyone here? a small voice calls out, echoing into the dark.
The small voice (my voice) calls out again, hoping to hear the warmth of a response, a sign that I am not alone in this place.
The darkness is heavy and my feet feel like 100 pound weights and as I reach out to feel for the container of this space, my fingers are barely able to discern where I end and the despair begins.
I arrived here about two weeks ago and slowly, with one weighted foot in front of the other, I’ve been moving forward—at least, that’s what I think I’m doing but in the dark, it’s hard to tell. Maybe I’m shuffling sideways, or spinning in slow moving circles, or maybe it’s my mind that’s moving and my body is still.
The air is dank I can feel my bones shiver; I am scared, to be here in this place. It’s not new to me but it’s not old either and each time I visit a little longer and each time I fear a little more.
In the next moment—for time moves swiftly and in slow motion at the same time—I realize that I am standing still and the thought of moving my body to move the sadness through my blood is too much to bear and here I stay, waiting for this all to pass.
My brain says, This is too much and my heart says, I think you are killing me and I continue to breathe through the waves of panic that have taken up a permanent home in my throat. I think to reach for my mat, but that idea alone is too tiring and my arms hang heavy at my sides; every part of me is leaden.
The dark can be full of magic but for me, right now, it is not; if I sit or stand or fall, I am instantly swarmed with creatures I cannot see but can only feel, grasping, clutching, trying to steal the center of my soul; my breath of life, the beating heart from my chest.
A breeze falls down the back of my neck and my spine shudders and I want to lay down and let the hungry demons consume every part of me; the stronger me—my raw, open, vulnerable, beating heart—will not declare a victory to the darkness and she demands that I listen to her lead.
Keep fighting, she says. Keep praying, keep breathing, keep writing, keep feeling, she repeats, over and over again. I know somewhere inside that she is right, but I am tired and my visions blurs and I start to doubt her, too.
I am still not sure if I will make it out of here alive. In the darkness, my thoughts are harder to leash and I have convinced myself that I am undeserving of happiness; that I am undeserving of love and affection and that I will stay alone, here, forever, with only the memory of the light to keep my alive.
I have tricked myself into believing my long-formed pattern of protecting myself—that I do not need to be loved, that I do not need to hear words of love and that I do not need to be touched in the ways of love.
When I cannot stand it anymore, I reach for something to numb my thoughts and the closest thing wins and then I sit with the shame of what I’ve done to my body and the weight gets heavier and I sink deeper and my body becomes part of the battle, too.
When I cannot stand it anymore, I climb into a hot bath cry and cry and let my tears meet the water and I bathe in my sorrow.
When I cannot stand it anymore, I tumble to my knees and press my forehead into the damp ground and ask for the God of my own understanding to save me for I do not know how to save myself.
When I cannot stand it anymore, with my forward to ground, I call for my army of warriors—other beating, strong hearts—to join me because I can longer be here alone and it is only with their love that I can ever come back to life.
Silently, ever so silently, I ask for help.
I can feel their warrior-love fill the darkness and tears of gratitude slide down my cheeks.
This is what it means to be loved, my heart says—this is what it means to be loved.
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