Originally published at The Urban Howl

Through loss, abuse, or betrayal, we have all been driven down into the darkness at some point in our lives.

As you linger in the depths of your despair, you find those people on the surface looking down on you. They don’t know where you have been. They have no frame of reference to make sense of your situation, your experience, or your perspective; so they make up their own meanings.

They offer platitudes, and advise you to change. They tell you how they would feel if they were you, and what they would do if they were in your situation. They’ll give you superficial responses in the hope of drawing you back to their surface, as if it is easy to leave darkness behind and come back up to the light.

They don’t understand that if you could do this you would have done so. But you can’t do that because healing takes time. Getting your head above water is an intricate process of picking your way through the depths, gathering the treasure hidden in the shadows, and taking it back with you as you rise.

Anything other than this is avoidance, not healing, and it bypasses the richness and abundance of growth that true recovery grants us.

The hands that reach down for you to grab onto are without substance, dissolving as you reach out. They offer nothing tangible. The only hands you can truly hold are fellow travelers finding their own passage out of the shadows.

People looking down from the surface have either never visited the depths, or they have risen from them too quickly and not gathered their bounty along the way. They don’t know what they’d be cheating you out of if they pulled you out at the speed they desire, rather than letting you rise at your own pace.

Don’t rise faster than your bubbles. Follow your breath. You will learn to breathe underwater, and this will allow you to take all the time you need to ascend in your own way. The pieces of the dark that cling to you are the gifts that will give you a depth of feeling, and growth, and expansion that you would not have otherwise found.

Those who are wary of these dark offerings will draw back from you. Their eyes will glaze over as you tentatively reveal that each scar life has given you is a gift. They will only accept the sunniest parts of you, as though you might contaminate them with your dark.

This is asking you to deny the breadth of your spirit, and to silence the roar of your life force. But this is your birthright. Get loud, dig deeper, and find those people who can hold all of it with love and awe.

Time doesn’t heal us, love does.

True love means embracing all that is, both the dark and the light, with tenderness and acceptance. True love means dealing with the fury, the shame, and the grief. True love knows that of there is room for all of this, there will also be room for the fullness of your joy. You will no longer have to hide your light, or rise too quickly and risk dying in the process.

You will heal yourself at a very deep level because you found the courage to go dark. It will not obliterate you. It will propel you, not only back to the surface but further on up into the stratosphere, where you will fly.

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