Trust the Darkness

By Ryan Thomas. Co-Founder and Host of the podcast and sexuality focused, personal growth company, Modern SexTalks.

purple-mountain1Life can be tough sometimes. Seriously tough. That’s the point. When we go to the gym, we put our bodies through struggle to strengthen our muscles so they can handle more. It’s driven by discipline, and a pursuit of strength and growth.

I think that people can sometimes forget that it’s through our struggles and confusing periods in our lives that make us grow the strongest.
It’s hard to remember this when in you’re in the middle of struggle. When you’re struggling, all you can think is, “Fuck it, I’m done” or “when will this end? Why does it suck so much?”

I experimented with hallucinogenic mushrooms about 2 years ago. And the experience left me with a powerful message that I will never forget.

At the height of my trip/high/journey, it was nighttime in large park, and I was walking up to collection of pine trees, tightly woven together. Around the trees, it was lit by a single street light. As I walked towards the trees, I was met with a wall of darkness.
I entered the trees, somewhat apprehensive and uncertain if I would hurt myself, get bitten by a spider or an animal, or fall and hurt myself. I chose to feel my fear and apprehension and move forward anyways.

As I entered the darkness, I had no idea where I was going. I just knew I was going forward. On 2 occasions I thought I should just turn back. Luckily I didn’t, and I stumbled, after getting hit in the face several times by unseen branches and spider webs, into the centre of the mass of the trees.

In the centre, I wondered how the hell I got there. And how the hell I was going to get out. I knew I could turn around and go out the way I came, but I already knew what was there. I wanted something different. But I had no idea where to go.

At this point, in the darkness, I thought I couldn’t see anything. Until I started to recognize faint beams of light, piercing through the darkness in the few openings amongst the branches. I picked a direction from one beam of light, and walked towards it.

I didn’t know where it was going to take me. I just knew there was light in that direction, so I pursued it. The more I walked, the more I got hit in the face by branches, but the less they affected me. And the brighter it got.

A few metres later, I stumbled out of the trees into an open area on the other side, with a magnificent view of a forest and large old cedar trees towering above me. I could finally see. I was out of the darkness.

At this moment I realized something that would stay with me for life. In order to get direction from our light, we have to have the courage to face the darkness. To go into the unknown, and accept you might get beat up a bit. It’s impossible to get direction from the light, unless you’re in the darkness. Otherwise, you’re blinded by your current surroundings.

If you’re faced with your current surroundings, you won’t be able to see where you’ll end up after a period of darkness. Which do you choose? The darkness? Or being blind to something better?
Once entering the dark phase of that journey, I thought on a few occasions, “What the hell am I doing? I should go back. At least I know where that is.”
It came down to a choice. I pursued the unknown. I accepted the risks. And once I accepted the risks, there was no longer any need for fear. It dissipated.

I knew there was another side to the darkness. I knew there was light on that other side. I just couldn’t see it yet. All I saw was darkness.
At the epicentre of my journey, I was finally able to find some direction. I shifted my focus from “Man, I can’t see anything! What the hell am I doing here?!” to “Holy crap…I can see beams of light all around me!” Choosing a direction was irrelevant, because it was light. I just had to trust.

This journey is incredibly similar to how we face challenging our patterns in our lives. Be it patterns of attracting boyfriends/girlfriends who are abusive, cheating, or distant. Or leaving the comfort of our 9-5 job for our passion and purpose filled life. Or maybe finding forgiveness and shifting our life away from one of anger and resentment to men/women, rich people/poor people, blacks/whites, etc.

But it’s during this dark phase of growth that our confidence, self-esteem, direction, attractions, desires will all be challenged. Our identity will be going through a major shift, and the things we identified well with before, will start to fade away as we move toward new light. A new identity.
We simply need to remember that during phases of uncertainty and confusion, the only thing we can do is keep moving forward. And although we don’t know who we will be when we get there, we can trust that we will be better for it.

If you turn back, you accept a life of the same struggles you have always faced. If you want something different and better, be prepared for a journey into a phase of confusion, and insecurity.

You can still be confident on this journey though. Confident that you’ll make it out alive and in better shape. Confidence in yourself to handle the challenges thrown your way. Confidence in your values and morals. Confidence in your faith and knowledge that you’re on the right path; Even if you don’t know.
Or, if anything, you can be confident in your knowledge and your decision to leave your past behind you. Confident in your pursuit for a better life.

So if you’re going through a phase of insecurity, or uncertainty, or loneliness or depression, you have two choices. You can focus more on those feelings, and stay there. Or you can focus on the beams of light that manage to find their way in.
Beams of light like comments of support from friends and family, a particular job offering that may not be your ideal, but will set you up well for that ideal pursuit. Beams of light like a new social group, or a new paradigm of accepting your own self-worth.
Beams of light like a new romantic interest that isn’t like past partners, and although you’re not initially attracted to them, you feel oddly drawn to them. Pay close attention. This light will be felt at your core. In your gut. It will be faint at first. It will be different. Trust it.

Darkness is like the pain in the gym. You can succumb to the pain and give up. Or push through, and it will make you stronger. Trust the darkness. It’s the only way to find your light.

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