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Finding Light in Shadows: Embracing the Darkness

Life is often referred to as a journey, and rightfully so; during that journey, we are often taught to fear the dark, always seek out the light, and avoid the shadows that lurk around us. This reminds me of Harry Potter, when Professor Slughorn tells Harry, "You can't have the dark without the light. Myself, I strive to live in the light, I suggest you do the same." But what if there is beauty in the dark, that embracing the shadows can lead to unexpected healing and profound growth? We can take a chapter out of Harry's book for that. You cannot deny that Harry lived in the dark most of his life, but it was in that darkness that he found everything he ever wanted and needed.

 

Personal Story: A Journey Through Darkness

I have always been someone who sought comfort in the light, scared of the unknown that darkness may bring. I have realized this because of the Army, which preaches to us to stay out of the darkness and not to let the darkness consume us. I have lost too many battles (Army friends) because the darkness consumed them, and they believed they had no other way out. The mental health stigma in the Army will, unfortunately, never change. Maybe the new generation of Soldiers coming in will finally see that happen, but it continues to get worse for my generation of Soldiers (and I'm talking about join date, not age). It almost feels like it is because no one knows how to navigate it, so it's bottled up, stigmatized, and pushed to the back burner. When it is brought to the surface (usually by a new gen Soldier), this is usually how conversations go, "they just want attention," "all they did was basic training, they are full of it, they don’t have PTSD," "if you haven't deployed, and seen some sh*t, don't talk to me about mental health." Why do we do that, and more importantly, why do we allow it?  I have PTSD; however, mine is not combat PTSD (yes, there are different "types" of PTSD). I did experience some horrible things while deployed, and that is taken into account, but it is not the underlying cause of my PTSD.  As an organization, the Army, we recognize the different types, we "teach" about it, brief about it, and yet, we still say, "Toughen up, Soldier, this is what you signed up for," when the reality is, that is NOT what we signed up for. We signed up to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic, not to be scrutinized and forgotten because we are struggling with mental health. The journey and struggle through the darkness for a Soldier is beyond intense, more so because they are alone, and they shouldn't be; they should NEVER be alone.

 

Life had other plans for me, and I found myself engulfed in a period of deep darkness, both metaphorically and literally. I was at a point where my children were the only thing keeping me going, sure I was doing the right thing and seeking help; I've been in counseling for at least the last five years with the same amazing counselor. I tried to speak up at times at work about my struggles, and I fell into the same Army stigma, "toughen up, you'll be fine". This is a bit humorous to me because the group that I currently work with says they care and are all about mental health and want to support us, yet out of the 12 in that office, only four truly care (not including myself), and none speak up if/when needed. Heaven forbid if and when I speak up on behalf of another Soldier (which I do quite often), I am told, "Know your place and stay in your lane", and if you know me, you know I do not just sit there and let that stuff go. I continue to be loud and advocate until that Soldier is taken care of. I cannot lose another battle (Army friend) to the darkness, especially if there is something that I can do, I will ALWAYS speak up.

Okay, this has gone a little off-topic, and I need to stop before I continue down that seemingly never-ending rabbit hole.

It was during this time that I unexpectedly met someone who helped me discover a different perspective on darkness—one that changed my life. We instantly clicked (go back through my blogs, start with "Self-Reflection and Something New"), and he all but instantly became my "person," my best friend; he helped me find the beauty of the moon in the dark of night. He helped me grow so much during that short time we had together, and I am and will be forever grateful to him. He motivated me, showed up for me, supported me, and showed me what it was truly like to be loved by someone; that was something I had never experienced before. Because of him, I am no longer afraid of the darkness.

 

With his support and motivation, I navigated through the shadows and realized that within them lay an opportunity for introspection and self-discovery. The darkness forced me to confront my deepest fears and insecurities, pushing me to grow in ways I never thought possible. In those moments of vulnerability, I found strength and resilience I never knew I had, and I clung to it.

 

The Beauty Within Darkness

I learned that embracing darkness does not mean succumbing to despair; rather, it is an act of defiance against the fear that holds us back. Just as shadows are created by light, darkness, too, has its purpose in illuminating the hidden corners of our souls. It is in these shadows that we find the raw, unfiltered truth of who we are and what we are capable of.

In the depths of darkness, we learn to appreciate the light in a way we never could before. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, we emerge from the shadows, stronger and more vibrant than ever. Our scars become a testament to the battles we have fought and the resilience that resides within us.

 

Unexpected Healing and Growth

While darkness may initially seem daunting, it is often in the darkest moments that we find the light we have been seeking all along. It is a paradoxical truth that by embracing our shadows, we pave the way for healing and growth. Just as a seed needs darkness to sprout, we, too, require moments of obscurity to bloom into our true selves.

Through my own journey of embracing darkness, I have come to understand that it is not the absence of light that defines us but rather how we choose to navigate through the shadows. By accepting the darkness within, we open ourselves up to a world of infinite possibilities and endless growth.

 

Finding light in the shadows is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. Embracing darkness allows us to tap into our inner strength, leading to unexpected healing and growth. So, the next time you find yourself shrouded in darkness, remember that within it lies the key to unlocking your true potential.

This blog post will always remind me that beauty can indeed be found in the dark and that sometimes, it is only by embracing the shadows that we truly learn to shine.



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