a necessary death

I’m in the dark.

I’m not apologizing for it. And I’m not asking for help. I’m simply stating where I am. And where that is is in the dark.

A dark so pervasive, so insistent, so oppressive and inescapable, that there is no light. Those small things that would usually pierce the darkness – the smiles of neighbors and passersby, the kind words from those very few, true real life friends I have – just don’t right now. They get lost somewhere around the edges. Familiar echoes in the distance I kinda sorta hear, but don’t. Not really. Appreciated, yes, but quickly lost. That’s how dark it is.

But I still move through life. I’m pleasant, I can laugh, I can smile, I can brighten your day and mean every word of it. And I do. But it’s not resonating for me. It’s just too dark.

But why? Why am I here? What’s the reason? Because there’s always a reason.

It’s the eerie calm before the great storm. That massive, mysterious, life-changing tsunami I see rolling in from the horizon. It’s exhaustion. And taking stock of years languishing on everyone’s TBR pile, always “next” and always passed over. It’s knowing no matter how carefully I construct a sentence or coax out a rhythm on the page, or how delicately I balance the inherent song in someone’s dialogue and meticulously build those narrative beats page by page, it’s all for naught. I’m writing for an audience of one. It’s reaching far and wide to be better and stronger, to make progress, to achieve, somehow, and coming back empty handed. It’s admitting that no matter how good I am, it’s not enough. And it’ll never be enough. It’s the necessary realization that sometimes people are not who I hoped they’d be. Not who I so needed them to be. That I saw what I wanted to see and heard what I wanted to hear. Again. It’s the admission that, despite whatever gifts I have, I am expendable and easily forgotten.

None of this is bad.

This dark is a much needed hollowing out of all that no longer fits. It’s the Universe forcing me to relinquish that which is inauthentic and illusory — people, situations, dreams, goals, loves — mourn those deaths, and then, when I can see again, fill the empty space with something better. Or nothing at all. I don’t know. The Me I am right now, right here, is being systematically shredded into oblivion so that at the end, when the light returns, I have to rediscover the Me I really am. Or at least the Me I could be. And that person might be radically different than who I think I am now.

I’m not sure. It’s too dark to see.

And so I’m writing this. Instead of doing something to give vent to my frustration, something sudden and irrevocable to bring escape or peace, I’m calmly, rationally facing the monster and calling it what it is. Hopefully lessening its hold by looking it in the eye. Because writing this little note is all I can do right now. If I take a step to try and leave this shadow, the shadow expands five steps. If I take a second step, it grows ten more. If I do any of the active, take-charge things I usually do to shrug away the dark, the dark grows stronger. So all I can do is stand still and let the light find me. Just stand quiet, take responsibility for my mistakes, own up to my self-delusions, follow the threads back to where I blinded myself with good intentions and hope, cut those cords, release those goals, people, dreams, loves, and then wait until the black loses its hold, turns grey and the shadows begin to lift.

Then, and only then, can I step forward into a world I may not recognize, but which I will make mine. Somehow.

Until then, I’m in the dark.

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