Shades of Darkness

The only part of the COVID Quarantine I’ve enjoyed has been the quarantine itself. I’m a strong introvert and can take hours or days on my own to recharge, which made the reality of months “trapped” at home similar to a version of heaven for me. That is, it would have been, had not every other facet of my life kicked, screamed, and yelled at me.

My brain over processes and overthinks everything. I still don’t know if this is a blessing or a curse. But while I’m over-processing, I’m also feeling betrayed and let down by the life I was informed I’d have if I completed specific steps and milestones.

Side note: Something to help you gauge my character is that I hate making multiple trips in with the groceries. If there’s a way I can do it in one go, I’m sold. This thinking applies to how I’m told about the policies and procedures of business and life. Knowing that life practically never goes along as we think it should, you can imagine how many times I get frustrated when what I’m told the first time doesn’t end up happening. Now combine that with if I took the time to complete that primary objective only to have it “fail” in my eyes. Now I’m left feeling like I have to do it all over again, and I’m stuck with the burden of impure expectation. But since I completed my end of the bargain, why didn’t it work? Or why do I have to be the one to restart the process and start from scratch?

This is what COVID brought to the surface of my life. But instead of choosing to rise above it and improve my situation, I ended up wallowing in my own self-pity. Again. Guys, you’d think I’d learn by now not to do this.

Every piece of my life uprooted and got dangled in my face, seemingly to mock me and my inabilities. Life got dark, my friends. While I could go into excruciating detail about all of this, I don’t want to put you guys through the torture of an absurdly long blog. Here are the highlights.
My relationship with God is one of my foundations. Talking with Him, watching Him work in my life, and the gift of feeling His Spirit are invaluable to me. I’ve noticed over the last few years that He’s become oddly silent with me. I’m not sure if it was something I did, or if He chose to do this, but that’s how I felt.

I’d pushed my business to a potential growth point only to have it cut off at the knees. God stayed silent. My relationship with my wife was complicated and rocky. God stayed silent. I didn’t feel I had many friends willing to help me in my difficulties and trials. God stayed silent. While looking for work, I settled on an entry-level phone job despite my experience and resume because they were the only ones willing to hire me. I felt abandoned, worthless, and invaluable as a person, as a husband, and as a member of society. Still, God stayed silent.

I’m lost now in a sea of my own creation, but I don’t understand how it formed. It made no sense. I’d applied myself to education. I built what I’d termed meaningful and lasting relationships with those I wanted to keep around. When I involved myself in some scenario, I worked my ass off to show my value and worth.

Yet here I was without an income, all my personal dreams and pursuits cut off at the pass, and marriage on the brink of collapse. I couldn’t understand why.

Honestly, guys, even after rising above the darkness and finding some sense of life again, I still can’t fathom how such a dark period gained as much sustenance as it did. I can’t figure out why life apparently rejected me so hard and left me in such a state. Was I to the point of being broken? No, but close. I did quit on life and resigned myself to mediocrity as that’s all I seemed to earn. I hadn’t given up, but I was tired of wasted effort.
Education doesn’t mean much anymore. Work experience isn’t valued or appreciated. And relationships seldom reciprocate the investment you put into them.

This is the state I was in. Miserable. Pitiful. A victim and a martyr. Without hope.

And with God distant and for all I knew doing it on purpose, I had two choices. Either continue on like this forever (super dramatic, I know) or get out of it myself and make some changes.

Here’s another thing to know about me. I feel the world around me in strong emotions, and I am as susceptible as any to getting overrun. But, I’ve proven time and time again that I face the demon and end up laughing in his face. I don’t like feeling horrible, and I don’t like suicidal thoughts. So I put on a smile, look them in the eyes, and punch them in the face.

I took that ridiculous phone job to do something different, and after making that move, God broke His silence and offered some of His life-altering advice. “Don’t give up,” He told me.

“You’re a prick, you know that?” I thought back at Him. But the manner His message arrived did wonders for me. (I’m not fully prepared to divulge that at the moment, but I’ll say that it came during the month I worked at the call center at the hands of an influential book called “The Alchemist.”) In the months leading up to this, I cursed Him, argued with Him, yelled at Him, and all the other things while praying and asking for help. I’ve had to come to terms with all this, but at least I never stopped talking to Him.

We’re now in August, and I can say that a lot has changed, though a lot hasn’t. Most of my frustrations back in March and April are still frustrations now. The differences are my outlook, perspective, and attitude for one, and my decision to stop waiting for God. I’ll say proudly anytime and anywhere that God is real, and he works actively in our lives if we let Him. I’ll also say that I recognize His influence in almost every part of my life.

But something He’s allowing me to learn right now is my own capability. I say with a bitter pride that I got myself out of the darkness that surrounded me. I say bitter because very few people came to my aid when I needed it. For how hard I work to move past my introverted nature and participate in the lives of those I care about, this was a hard truth to accept.

I say with pride that I’m reapplying myself to life and making some changes. I’m back in school, I’m aggressively pursuing my business’s success, and I’m changing my self-talk. My wife and I shared some hard things with each other, and I’m proud to say that we’re both working toward repairing and improving our relationship and our lives.

I’m finally seeing the change I’ve looked for, but I’m afraid it’s coming at a cost I’m unfamiliar with. Everything has a price, and if life took so much when I was attempting to do things “right,” while I’m not sure if what I’m doing is right or wrong, I’m doing something. That always has a cost.
The darkness is over, but it’s not past. There are still events to play out for better or worse. A lot of my dreams (not like goals or desires, but actual nighttime sleep dreams) over the past decade have hinted at this time of my life, though I had no idea until I started living it.

And that, I think, is the main point God wanted me to know in all this. The reality of life, and the symbiosis of God and man, don’t come into fruition with the possibility of success until life is lived without fear.

sigh

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