“…Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.”
For anyone who just needs to hear this today…or on any day to come…
a way in…Years ago, when my youngest was in first or second grade we hosted a pretty typical event–he brought a friend home from school with him to play for the afternoon. Except this kid was anything but typical! He very proudly explained to me that he was a survivalist with wilderness survival skills that other kids only saw on television. In the ten minute ride home, he regaled us with his knowledge proving the truth of his assertion. Let’s just say, when lost in the wilderness, he is who I want to be my guide!
There are moments (days, weeks, months, years) in this life when the only way to justly explain the location of our mental health, of our well-being, of our clarity, is to name “the wilderness”. And the wilderness isn’t such a bad place to be…for a while. Exploration of this uncharted territory often offers deeper insight into who we have been, who we are and who we might become. The silence of our time there, at the start, feels contemplative and so we engage it rather than fear it.
Yet, inevitably, at some point, the wilderness exhausts us.
The silence becomes loneliness rather than solitude. The trees choke out the light and the path we thought we were on muddies itself and the weight of being lost settles in. In the darkness, we can no longer see ourselves or sense our purpose through the panic. In the darkness, we imagine the worst until it becomes our reality. In the darkness, doubt enters. In the darkness, we become uncertain of our capacity to maintain the strength it will take to exit the wilderness at all…we begin to doubt there is even a possible exit. Weakened, we succumb to sitting down, head hanging in distress.
And we forget.
We forget that the difficult moments in our lives are not the only moments in our lives.
We forget that we have been here before.
We forget that we survived…that we are battle-ready…that we are strong.
We forget that we are worth the struggle because sometimes it feels like the world has forgotten this too (even when it tries to tell us otherwise).
We forget what it is like to see clearly, without distortion, and to trust the well-meaning words of those who love us as truths–in the dark, it is hard to trust anything–and so in the dark, we forget we are loved.
And we hunger.
We hunger for a ray of light to break through the canopy and to shine upon us–a reminder that good has not been entirely eradicated from our existence.
We hunger for our hearts to feel in full rather than in shades.
We hunger for peace rather than pieces.
We hunger for someone else to do the work that we feel too empty to attempt.
We hunger for community, clarity, connection.
And all the while, we feel lost, unseen, misunderstood.
My only purpose in this blog is to say this…
I see you. I know you because I have been you. I’m here to shine that ray of light on whatever your situation is–to be your survivalist, your guide while you feel so invisible in the darkness. To let you know that you are not alone and that more than anything, you-just as you are-you are worth and worthy of the struggle. It won’t be easy; we know that. It will often feel impossible to orienteer your way through. Harness a strand of energy and strive to shine your own light again. It is still there, buried deep, waiting to be rediscovered.
But until then, I promise, there are others who will be beacons for you because they know that “…Wherever you are is called Here,/ And you must treat it as a powerful stranger…”
Sending love into the world today to all my fellow current and former wilderness dwellers. And also to my young survivalist who is battling his own metaphorical wilderness these days with courage and heart (truly survival skills)…an example to the rest of us for sure.
(Day Seven–not sure where this one came from but it felt necessary to honor the idea today. Also, every struggle is different and so if you need more than a pep-talk of a blog written by an optimist and not a professional, this is an excellent resource: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org and also 1-800-273-8255 )