How To Get Through The Darkest Times.

Via Chris Lemig
on Oct 19, 2011
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“How did you get through your dark time?” my friend asks.

I take a deep breath, look up and away as I search my memories. It certainly wasn’t by following some prescription or guidebook and so I have to mull over it again, slowly remembering the way I found, hands reaching out blindly in front of me, through the maze and back into the sun.

“It wasn’t easy. It never is.” I begin. I always begin this story that way and there’s a reason for that. Anyone who’s ever struggled with addiction, depression, suicide or intense self-hatred, knows that there is no easy way out. We can’t have any delusions about this. We will have to work at it. And I mean really hard.

So I start to tell my friend how I had to first recognize that I had had enough. Enough of disappointment, enough of falling down and scraping my knees over and over again, enough of punching myself in the face till my lip was bloodied and swollen. But once that realization nearly blinded me, I was off and there was really nothing that could stop me.

Next I had to find the strength that I’d buried deep inside myself, the strength that I didn’t recognize as being the very thing that had gotten me through the nightmare so far. It was there all along really, getting me through countless hangovers and scary drug deals and nights in jail. It was just that I had been funneling all that strength in the wrong directions.

Probably at the same time as all of this, I had to admit I had a problem. I had to stop the act, stop pretending that I was OK, that I was in control and that I knew what I was doing. When I really did this I kind of melted inside and I found I was able to reach out and ask for help, from my family, from a therapist, from a spiritual community. It was only when I opened myself up to that degree that I knew that I had a fighting chance.

Since I came out and got clean (and yes, “found” Buddha) I have experienced the same kinds of set backs and difficulties I always had. Money has run tight from time to time. People have gotten angry with me. My car has broken down. The pipes in my house froze last winter and the furnace went out. A friend died. I had to make the decision to put my dog down. Any of these problems, the big or the little, would have immobolized me when I was drinking and using. I would have seen them as punishments for being the terrible person I thought I was, instead of just life happening, naturally and normally.

So when people ask me “how did you get through your dark time?” which really means “how can I get through mine?” I tell them this:

You already know the way. Just trust yourself and take that first step…


About Chris Lemig

Chris Lemig isn't afraid of the dark. He dreams in full color and lives out loud. Sometimes, when he sees that your heart is broken, his heart breaks, too. But then he puts all the pieces back together and lets out a great, guffawing laugh that shakes the world to its bones. He loves you even though he's never met you and he wants you to know that you are brighter than the brightest guiding star. He is the author of The Narrow Way: A Memoir of Coming Out, Getting Clean and Finding Buddha.


6 Responses to “How To Get Through The Darkest Times.”

  1. Chris Lemig says:

    Glad to call you my friend as well, Sally. Thank you for the comment and thank you for reading!

  2. YoginiBunny says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience with coping through the dark times. It's hard to remember that we already know the way to get through the dark time, to find the strength to acknowledge the darkness and remember that we do know the way… This is simple yet so true…

  3. Chris Lemig says:

    Thank you for reading.

  4. Kunga Rangdröl says:

    thank you, I always enjoy your writing. at 3 & a half years sober, I had to put down my sweet 14 year old dog (her name was "Whiskey" –go figure 😉 that was, undoubtedly, one of THE worst days of my life–and I had a lot of them during my drinking career; but I was able to do what was necessary, with love and dignity, to end her suffering.

    she was a Buddha, to be sure, patiently living through 11 years of my own hell realm. a Zen Master came to my house for a book study group and once inside, she greeted him with her customary smile & butt-wag. he looked at her, then he smiled and said: "yes…she gets it."

    I'm grateful that as her health failed, I could be fully present for her–as she had been present for me. always.
    ::blessings on your journey, may it be long::
    thanks, Eric

  5. Chris Lemig says:

    Congratulations on three and a half years! That's no small feat and I am very happy for you. Sorry to hear about Whiskey. Om Mani Padme Hung. Thank you for reading and may your journey be blessed as well.