Finding Hope In the Darkness
Life is not always a walk in the park with hope around every corner. People do not always bring you roses and compliments; sometimes they bring you broken bones and torn hearts. The stories I have heard in my office would shock and disgust and horrify many. Members of the club Abuse, Rape, & Violence, however, would just shake their heads knowingly. It is easy to believe that the world is evil. Or to be consumed in anger and revenge-seeking. Or to cover your head beneath the pillows and give up. I don’t blame the people who do this. Life can be hard.
We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us, and make us kinder. You always have the choice. ~Dalai Lama
Wise words from a wise man. The million dollar question, though, is HOW? The emotions that come from a history of abuse or violence can rage through our bodies. If we have PTSD, the memories come back as fresh as the first time over and over and over. How do we somehow channel this darkness into something that makes us kinder and gives us hope?
Absolutely, it starts with a choice. However, following up that choice with action is critical. It takes practice and skill to learn how to observe your terror and rage without judgment—to stay connected with yourself, to calm yourself, to redirect your attention towards something positive.
Imagine yourself in a cavern suddenly thrust into total blackness. You can no longer rely on your sense of sight to guide you, to remind you that you are not alone, or even to know that you are still present and on firm ground. Many will panic. But…if you slow down your breathing and heart rate, you might be able to hear drops of water that can begin to help you orient. If you focus on your feet standing on the ground, you can start to decipher whether the path in front is safe and solid or treacherous. If you observe quietly enough, you might be able to smell a breeze of fresh air and find the courage to begin probing into the darkness.
To me, this is what therapy is all about. It is the process of grounding yourself until you are able to get your bearings enough to begin to take one step in front of the other. It is having someone there in the darkness with you willing to put out a hand and help you up when you stumble. Of course, therapy is not the only path, but whatever way is best for you, I hope you choose kindness over anger and seek out the skills to put that choice into action so that one day you can find yourself in wonder at the world around you. Come out into the light. Even with the darkness (or maybe even a little because of it), there are so many beautiful reasons to be happy.