Edge of Darkness

She speaks to me in dreams. She comes to me in waves of panic. She visits me without warning. I struggle to openly receive her messages without feeling flooded and retreating away from her. I wonder how I can learn from her without getting lost and overwhelmed by all she needs to share with me. How can I choose to carefully and safely venture into her pain? I begin to think that perhaps I need to stop bracing and shielding myself from her sudden incoming messages and instead find a way to compassionately build a bridge towards her. Perhaps if I could be curious and brave enough to approach her – to visit where she lives – that we could learn to soften our approach with one another.

Where does this child inside of me live? What does she experience? What can I learn from spending time with her where she resides?

I sit with these questions and begin to search within myself and ask her if she might invite me in. I ask her to help me understand – to help me see all that she needs to show me. My initial requests are met with nothing – silence. I keep trying. With each failed attempt I begin to ask more questions.

Why does she feel so far away from me?
Will she not let me find her or is it that I am too scared and unwilling to see her?

I take breaks from my asking and searching with the hope that a fresh mind will bring clarity another day. Then I try again and again and again – each day coming up empty. Then one night while lying in bed, without conscious thought or awareness, I receive her answer. She tells me that she lives where she’s always been – in the place I created long ago.

Immediately an image appears in my mind. I know exactly where she is. When I was in high school I was assigned a self portrait project in my art class. Of all of the countless ways to best represent oneself, my wounded 17 year old self related most accurately to this self representation – desperate, terrified, and gripping helplessly onto the edge of darkness – looking up for light, life, any sign of hope. The fear in her eyes shows that help is not coming.

The child inside of me lives exactly where I painted her years ago in the midst of her suffering. She’s still there. She’s still hanging onto that ledge desperate for help.

I have shamefully hidden from this place that she resides for so long – denying its existence – denying her truth. I have lacked the understanding, strength, and courage to face her. I have felt too scared to look over the edge into her desperate eyes. In my bravest moments I have tried to reach for her and attempt to help her. But she cannot be convinced to let go of the ledge and reach for my hand. She doesn’t trust my hand to save her. I don’t blame her for that. My hand is the same one that has tried to pry her fingers from that ledge many times before to make her disappear – to make it all disappear. How can she know that it is safe to trust me now? And how do I know if I can be trusted? What if I try to reach for her and fail? What if I’m not strong enough to carry the weight of her hurt? What if my efforts to save her lead us both to a life ending fall?

Maybe my challenge is not to pull her out. Maybe instead of trying to lean over her and help her out of her darkness I need to climb down there with her – to listen to her – to really see her. Maybe we’re supposed to find our way out together.

I want to be strong for her. I want to courageously enter that endless shaft and join in close beside her feeling confident in our ability to navigate our way out. But the truth is that I’m scared. I’m afraid of failing her. I’m afraid of failing us – again.

12 thoughts on “Edge of Darkness

  1. when scrolling down and the picture appeared I gasped, it is so fucking scary. And that you painted it, what talent.
    Maybe you are right, maybe the way out is first in. Maybe by entering the darkness you lighten it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. It is such a strange feeling to revisit and connect to artwork that I created as a hurting child. It is amazing to recognize how, at that age, although I was unable to find words for my pain I was able to express it so profoundly through art. It feels like a gift of healing connection to my wounded self to still have copies of my art today.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I have felt overwhelmed by your words. I sat at 3.30 am this morning still contemplating on how to meet you at this place on the ledge. For so long, I too have been balancing there and although our stories are different, your words move me to my absolute core. I believe that by writing, you have extended your hand to her and maybe she is no longer hanging but sitting on that ledge. Sometimes in life we are drawn to a complete stranger and can feel a deep connection than can not be explained. So today, my inner child will greet your inner child with grace and love and I honor the part of you that is me and shall look forward to our continued journey towards healing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think it takes so much time for her to open up to us.. we feel such fear of this part of ourselves… were taught to bury and fear it but it is the key to all of our healing not only personally but collectively.. this is very powerful and the image haunting.

    Liked by 1 person

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