I remember that it was snowing and nighttime. I had gone several days without sleep or food, had a black eye, and was strung out on crystal meth. I had lost my job, had no money, lived with a drug dealer, couldn’t pay rent, and was about to lose my vehicle to repossession. As I got into my car I had the intention of somehow convincing the man I loved that he should still be with me despite the fact that we had broken. We were meeting at a coffee shop under the premise that I needed closure. I was hoping for reconciliation.
When I met him there, I don’t really remember what I said. I don’t recall much of what he said back. The only thing about that conversation that remains perfectly clear in my mind was looking deep into his eyes as he told me there was no longer a single drop of love for me left in him. To this very day, the image of his face as he said that is one of my most vivid memories. I tried to look deeper to see if it was true; I found only disgust. Then, the doorbell went off as a man walked in and ordered a coffee. I knew it was the guy he was newly seeing, who had driven him there. I left.
I got into my car and began the 15 minute drive home. As I turned onto the highway, I felt something inside of me break. Then came the howling. Rage. Anguish. Sorrow. Hopelessness. It all came pouring out of me until I could feel the shattered pieces of my soul splintering themselves and turning into nothing more than dust. Tears streamed down my face and I could barely see. I couldn’t stop screaming. I don’t remember anything about the drive home besides the sound and the pain. At some point, I was back home sitting in the parking lot and there were no more tears to cry. My body was probably so dehydrated that it could no longer spare the moisture. Then, silence. Still gripping my steering wheel hard enough to choke the life out of something, I listened to the snow layering softly onto the outside of my car and floated in the vast chasm that had just opened up inside of me. There was nothing. I had nothing. I knew nothing. I felt nothing. I was nothing.
I was dead, metaphorically speaking. Despite the fact that I am now writing about it, there are no words that can describe what this experience was like. I had gone through pain, suffering, and loss before but this was something totally different. I had died. The person I had been was no more. I remained an empty shell full of the deepest and most profound darkness I have ever known. There were no more feelings. There were few coherent thoughts. I later learned that philosophers refer to such an event as “the dark night of the soul”. This was my darkest night.
The redeeming thing about moments like that, when you have hit rock bottom and the very last threads that secured you to the sorry life you were living have violently snapped, is that you have a rare opportunity for resurrection. Experiencing this was almost like being locked in a shadowy room with nothing but myself and a mirror. In the following days and weeks, there was no one for me to project blame for my state of affairs onto except the image that I saw in the mirror…but…that was me. It was my fault. I was living the life I had created for myself. Every decision that I made, for better or worse (and most of them were for the worse), led me to that soul-shattering moment.
I came to understand that the only way out of that dark room was to accept that no one was coming to save me and then to take full responsibility for the life I had lived. As soon as I did that it’s as if an illuminated opening the shape of a person appeared. The problem was that the shape of that person was not the shape of the person that I had been. I had two choices: I could either stay in that room in stubborn denial and face lasting madness and eventual death or I could change myself to fit through that opening. In order to fit through, I had to think differently, see differently, hear, walk, talk, live differently. There could be no half measures. There were no corners that could be cut and no more short cuts to be taken. There was nothing left for me to lose but my life and I wanted to live. At that point, I had finally discovered something that was more powerful than the hold my wounds had over me: love. It was real, I had felt it, and I had to live for it. So, I changed. I made it through the exit that appeared and…here I am.