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My dark night of the soul

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

What is a “dark night of the soul”? This is a very commonly used term that describes a loss of meaning in life. It occurs when you fall into a pit of despair and you wonder what the purpose of life is, when it feels totally empty and meaningless. It feels like depression, full of feelings of hopelessness.

A dark night of the soul is often triggered by a traumatic event, for example, a natural disaster, the death of someone you love, an accident or life-threatening illness. Perhaps you suddenly lose your job and your whole world feels like it's collapsed, and all the meaning you felt you had in life disappears. Mine was fueled by grief and despair. Here's what happened...

At the start of 2019, life was good! I was happy in my life as a wife and mother to three rescued dogs, living in Exeter where I’d spent the past 12 years. We’d recently upgraded from a one-bed flat to a brand new house in Pinhoe. I‘d been in my job for 10 years and was working as an HR Manager.

Dark night of the soul - photo of my spirit dog, Georgie

Then in November 2019, our little dog Georgie passed to spirit. She had been ill for some time with an incurable disease she picked up from sandfly from when she lived on the streets in Greece. I had to give her a pretty potent liquid drug to try to help her, which had worked in the past, but this time it wasn’t able to push her back into remission and she became skeletal before my eyes, therefore I had to make the heartbreaking decision to arrange euthanasia. She passed early December 2019 and took a piece of my heart with her.

Following Georgie’s passing, my husband fell ill suddenly with symptoms of a heart attack. We went to the local doctors surgery who called an ambulance and sent him to the Hospital in Exeter. We spent a day there with Dom undergoing various tests and prepared ourselves for the worst. The consultant was not expecting a positive outcome but, thankfully, the test results came back with a ‘negative’ result - Dom hadn’t had a heart attack. A moment of joy! But that was short lived... then the consultant advised us that he had found a shadow on Dom’s lung that needed investigating and he was to come back for a scan. We were anxious about this as Dom used to work as a roofing contractor back when asbestos was rife and no one truly understood how dangerous it could be.

This was just before Christmas, and the results didn’t come in until New Years Eve, which meant Christmas was a very worrying time. Thankfully the result came back as negative, so another moment of joy and I distinctly remember saying the words “roll on 2020! It’s going to be a great year.”

Dark night of the soul - photo of my stepdad, Andy, in spirit

However, early 2020 brought us more concerns as my stepdad Andy was in and out of hospital with sclerosis of the liver and other health problems caused by years of alcoholism. Although Andy had given up drinking 10 years previously, the damage was already done so despite his best efforts he suffered with various health problems and by 2020 he was in a bad way. By March 2020, he had been given just 12 months to live. Ever the optimist, I thought he had a chance as he was on the liver transplant list and he had been given the go-ahead to have the op if a suitable donor could be found. But this was 2020, the year covid-19 began and all operations had been cancelled until further notice. Sadly, he passed away just three months later after suffering an oesophageal haemorrhage. At the hospital, he was given an emergency operation and blood transfusion but, despite the best efforts of the staff in ICU, Andy passed on 10th June 2020.

This brought not only grief, but my poor mum was now widowed and alone. Watching her heart break as she kissed him goodbye in the ICU broke my own heart in two and the subsequent weeks were gut-wrenching as I attempted to help her manage the grief whilst trying to be strong and supportive. There really is no pain comparable to grief and the emotional impact that grief brings to a family.

A few months prior to Andy’s passing, I decided to come off the anti-depressants I’d been taking for 5 years. This was a decision primarily taken so that I could give my all to reiki as I didn’t see how I could be a great reiki practitioner if I couldn’t feel things. The pills had numbed me for so long - which definitely had it’s benefits; anxiety and depression were a rare occurrence during my days of taking the pills, whereas I’d been plagued by both my entire life up to that point. Weaning off anti-depressants is no mean feat, coming off these tablets after such a long time creates withdrawal symptoms and this can bring back depression. I did it really gradually and it took months, during which time my depression returned on top of all of the above happening. Oh, and lockdown of course! Right slap bang in the middle of it. Then there was the financial strain - Covid 19 had depleted our income as Dom wasn’t able to earn any commission and his basic salary was reduced due to a temporary redeployment, so we hit financial difficulties and decided to downsize, with the house move enabling us to get out of the debt that was mounting up.

Dark night of the soul - photo of my spirit dog, Saffy

The rest of 2020 remained difficult as I battled with my spiritual awakening which, despite sounding wonderful, is actually incredibly difficult as most of the time I was faced with the heaviness of shadow work and existential depression. I worked my way through grief, despair, anxiety, depression and feeling lost, battling the intense longing I had to return ‘home’. I felt world weary, emotionally exhausted and with no sense of hope for the future.

Early 2021 came and with Spring returning, I started to feel better. I thought things had finally started to improve, but then my dog Saffy passed away in the April, and just three months later, the last of our three girls, Sadie, passed too. Both had reached a fantastic age - 16 and 13 - but suffered with various conditions and illnesses that come with old age. Although it’s inevitable we’ll face losing a pet given their short life span, it’s still gut-wrenchingly painful and leaves an enormous sense of loss and despair.

Dark night of the soul - my spirit dog, Sadie

Now as I write this, all the darkness is making sense and I've found my purpose. I’ve had to face my own shadow and work through a lot of past trauma in order to heal from it, which has made me a better reiki master and a beacon of light for others. I’ve had to find natural and sustainable ways of healing that don’t involve numbing medication. The grief I've experienced has taught me the extremely valuable life lesson of compassion.

In order to awaken, I had to experience the darkness so I could attempt to find the light. Otherwise I wouldn't have looked for it. What used to give me pleasure has dropped away, and I recognise how I was always searching for external things to bring me joy - consumerism, purchasing shiny new things which I'd quickly become bored with then I'd start the search for the next shiny new thing; TV, endlessly numbing and distracting; and other people's approval, which I don't need! That's not to say I don't enjoy life's pleasures any more, but I recognise that isn't what brings me true, deep joy. It's actually the very small things that do that - simply being and living is enough to bring me a greater sense of joy. Everything else is a temporary form of superficial pleasure.

I feel that my overarching mission here on Earth - and my ultimate purpose - is to awaken spiritually and to help others to awaken for the benefit of not only humanity, but for our whole planet, including nature and the animal kingdom. I feel that humanity is approaching a better way of living with more consciousness and compassion. There’s a lot of talk within the spiritual community of a new ‘golden age’ that we’re approaching, a New Earth, and I feel that I'm meant to help people to get there.

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