What is it about the dark of night that makes it so easy to be hard on ourselves?
I write this at 2:23 am, having been up for an hour due to a combination of eye-piercing headache and my husband’s snoring. I’ve the lights on, a fire in the hearth, and a cat asleep on the back of the couch. (She’s yowling in her sleep, probably dreaming about the dog who visited yesterday.) Beyond the curtained windows, the woods are dark.
I find no fear in that darkness. I have enough within to occupy myself.
At times like this, my brain seeks out the chinks in my daily armor. “You’re hopeless. Useless.” “You’ve wasted your life.” “You’ll never amount to anything.” “You call that writing?”
Some nights, it’s hard not to listen, difficult not to embrace those lying words as truth.
How many of us achieve the grandiose dreams we set for ourselves in childhood, high school, or college? How often do we sell ourselves short and settle for something less than what we want or feel we deserve? Although — admittedly — sometimes that supposed “less” turns out to be more than we imagined, a blessing in disguise, turns out to be exactly what we need as opposed to what we want.
Smart man with words, that Mick Jagger.
So what to do on those nights (or sometimes days) when the shadows loom and the voices whisper? It’s easy to say “don’t listen.” It’s cavalier to suggest one turn their back when, in the end, it’s us alone against the dark side of ourselves. (And who willingly turns their back on the enemy?) Friends are good to reach out to. They’ll bolster a sagging ego, rally around, maybe give useable advice (but usually not). They’ll help keep you afloat until you regain the strength to swim again on your own.
But, oh, aren’t the deep waves tempting sometimes?