As I sit quietly in this virtual dark room alone, I remember the darknesses of my past. Like so many people, the road I traveled most of my life was bleak, sunless, riddled with hopelessness and despair. Whether you are young or old, surely there are many of you who can relate to this. Depression. Addiction. Abuse. Grief. Loss. Anger. Rage. Confusion. That destruction you sometimes bring upon yourself because you think, somehow, you deserve it. Maybe you don’t even realize yet you are thinking this. If you’re young, like I was when I started down that dark road, you may have tons of conflicting thoughts and feelings, spinning around inside you like a mighty whirlwind of mass devastation. That internal combustion which can only be tamed with things like utter disregard, loud music, wild (and often dangerous) spontaneity, self-harm, and escape in all forms. I’ve been there.
Maybe you’ve never felt like this, but you know someone who has…. There’s darkness all around and inside of each of us, though some are better at balancing it, releasing it in a healthy manner. For most of my life I felt this darkness was an enemy, an intruder, a parasite which gobbled up my light and cackled at my inadequacies. What I later learned, was that the thing killing me slowly from the inside was my own voice, that I was my own worst enemy and critic. After years of suicidal depression, after my fourth child came into the world, I finally turned my back on the misery and hell and stepped into the light for good. There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not super grateful for that. Now I can see where the error in my thinking was, but also, I see how what I went through in my past is fueling my life, and painting my fiction bright and real and full of life today.
Perhaps I should clarify. Darkness isn’t bad. It is a necessary part of the balance of light. Neither would exist without the other. The key word here, is balance. Sometimes learning how to balance darkness and light takes time. Just as Controlled burning stimulates the germination of some desirable forest trees, thus renewing the forest (See pic), experiencing darkness in our own lives can clear the way for some powerful realizations, self-discoveries, beliefs, and talents, as we push ourselves to grow through challenging times. Like a good hero or heroin in a great story, it’s in those times that we see what we are truly made of.
I tell you all of this so that you’ll know me, but also, because there are things I learned from the path I traveled in my life, and I want to share them with you. As you travel along your own path, maybe something I say here might help you in some way. And I hope, ultimately, you realize that you are in control of your own destiny. You have the power to make good in your life. You have the seed of success, happiness, love, and creative talent within you, and if you choose to move into the light, you must water those things which bring more light, and give them room to grow.
There is something I want you to know . . . You were always there for me, and I will always be there for you.
The beautiful thing about our relationship is that I can be across the world from you and still touch your heart. You were there for me in my darkest days, some of you before you were even born. As I cried into my journal pages, wondering who on Earth I was talking to… I realize now, it was you. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I had decided I would give my heart and soul to you, my innermost dreams and fears, because they were too big for me alone to carry.
As I spoke to you on those pages, you were the only one who truly listened. You didn’t judge me as I scrawled lousy writing mechanics and poor spelling with terrible handwriting. Cliche after cliche, through the inky black waterfall of angst, self-pity, self-imposed misery, you were patient. You let me lay my head on your shoulder and drench your shirt with my tears, because you knew…. Someday I’d grow my wings, and be ready to let my words flow and fly into the world, having been sculpted by the thought of you, as well as perseverance, determination, and willingness to change and grow.
Now they return to you, with so much gratitude, ready to meet face to face for the first time. And I promise I will do my best to repay you for the light you’ve always given me. Your soul, hungry for adventure, for love and a hero, the universal truths of the world spelled out in a story that only I can write. This has driven me to become the best person and writer–the best storyteller–I can be.
Thank you. I will always do my best not to let you down. ❤
But promise me you won’t give up on yourself. You have something special in you that is begging to be cultivated. Follow your bliss, no matter what. If you’re feeling alone, whether you are a “writer” or not, keeping your thoughts and feelings in a journal can help to make sense of what’s going on inside of you. Or make art, music, dance, meditate, give yourself to whatever your heart is calling you toward. There, you will find your belonging. There, you will realize that you were never really alone, you just hadn’t yet found your “place” to become truly acquainted with yourself.
We’re all allowed to have moments of weakness, but we must remember to follow them with moments of strength. You have it in you to be great. You can do it. Don’t ever forget that.
“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out, and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”
– Cynthia Occelli
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